Scheer says Tories want to make it harder for gang members to get bail
Codi Wilson, CP24.com
Published Thursday, September 12, 2019 1:20PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, September 12, 2019 1:44PM EDT
Federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says his party wants to implement legislation that will make it more difficult for gang members to be granted bail.
In a one-on-one interview with CP24 on Thursday, Scheer said if the Conservatives form government, they would introduce legislation that would create a “reverse onus” for gang members, preventing them from being given “automatic bail.”
“We have heard police chiefs and experts in community safety. We are going to bring forward legislation specifically that addresses the bail issue, where people are immediately let back out and continue to reoffend,” Scheer said. “They’ll have to prove that they aren’t going to rejoin the gang that they were just part of it.”
Mayor John Tory and Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders have both been pushing for legislation that would address the issue.
Last month, Saunders disclosed than more than three hundred people charged with firearms offences in Toronto were free on bail.
The police chief suggested that those charged with gun-related offences are more likely to be involved in another shooting while free on bail, something the city’s criminal defence lawyers disputed.
He said he would like judges in Toronto to change the bail guidelines given the spike in gun crime, adding that the city is in a unique situation given its population.
“If we have some sort of amendment or understanding in the courts because you can be sitting court in Toronto, but your benchmark is on what’s going on in Canada, so it’s hard for a judge to say ‘this is Toronto, so I have to do this,’ because that judge is measured across what all of Canada is doing,” Saunders said last month.
Scheer also said a federal Conservative government would take steps to address the flow of illegal guns coming into the country.
“Right now there are a lot of disconnects between the border services agencies, the RCMP, and local police forces. So we are going to take away some of the silo so that there is greater cooperation, greater communication,” he said.
“It also means more resources. More resources mean more people, more inspections. When we have more people that are able to track patterns and people going back and forth across the border multiple times that are known to be affiliated with gangs.”
Scheer would not confirm if his party plans to give Toronto more money to tackle the issue of gun violence.
“We will have more specific things to say throughout the campaign but I can tell you, I can send the signal, the Conservative Party, we absolutely do in believe in supporting our police officers and giving them the tools that they need,” he said.
Last month, the federal Liberal government announced that it would be giving $54 million over the next three years to support Ontario's Guns, Gangs and Violence Reduction Strategy.
At the time, Ottawa said the funds would be used to "specifically target initiatives that stop and address violent criminal activity before it starts, and provide exit strategies for youth already involved in gang activity."