News Releases

News Release - Manitoba

February 16, 2023

Statement from Manitoba Justice Minister Kelvin Goertzen Calling for Federal-Provincial-Territorial Summit on Bail Reform

The governments of Manitoba and Saskatchewan are urging the Government of Canada to convene a bail reform summit to address the increasing level of violence faced by Canadians. Last October, at a meeting of federal, provincial and territorial ministers responsible for justice and public safety, there was broad support from across Canada for an officials-level review of the bail regime. Federal Justice Minister David Lametti pledged his support for further talks at a federal, provincial and territorial summit to address the issue, yet no meeting has been scheduled. Today, Saskatchewan Justice Minister Bronwyn Eyre and I wrote to the federal justice minister urging him to convene that meeting.

All of Canada’s premiers have also recently jointly endorsed a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau requesting the Criminal Code, which is solely the jurisdiction of the federal government, be amended to incorporate a reverse onus for the possession of a loaded or restricted firearm in Section 95, and that a broader review of bail for firearms offences be conducted to determine if those offences should also be subject to reverse onus on bail.

The position of the Manitoba and Saskatchewan governments goes further and urges the federal government to amend the Criminal Code so that offenders who commit violent offences with knives and modified bear spray are subject to additional and more stringent conditions on application for bail. I previously urged the federal justice minister to consider those amendments in letters to his office in August and September 2022.

Without meaningful reform to the bail regime, Manitobans and Canadians will continue to be the victims of violent crimes by offenders who should be behind bars, not out on the street re-victimizing innocent people. Minister Eyre and I are calling on the federal justice minister to immediately convene a federal-provincial-territorial summit on bail reform to initiate substantive and real changes to the Criminal Code to better protect all Canadians.

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