Earlier this year Stephen participated in a series of public hearings on the importance of Bail Reform in Ontario and across Canada. In 2021, 772 people were released on bail for firearms related charges. Of those 165 people we re-arrested while on bail for firearms offences. Of these 60% were re-arrested for firearms related charges. And half of those received bail again.
In late 2016, courthouses in two locations started using judges to sit in bail courts instead of justices of the peace, who are not required to be trained in the law. The pilot project ended in August 2019.
While this Government has yet to produce a report about the pilot, anecdotal evidence presented at the committee suggested that it went very well.
Both Police Associations including the Toronto Police and criminal defence advocates agree that an important change would to have bail for firearms, and other serious violent offences, handled by a judge and not a Justice of the Peace. Unlike most JPs, Judges have years of legal training and experience in the courtroom.
I was proud to lead the way in having this recommendation included in the Committee’s Report to the Legislature and hope that the government will urgently take action to bring in this meaningful change that is completely within their power.
You can read that report here.