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Justice minister says Liberal bail-reform bill will work, but he won't say how

Last Updated Sep 27, 2023 at 3:27 pm MST

Justice Minister and Attorney General of Canada, Arif Virani waits to appear before the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, Wednesday, September 27, 2023 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

OTTAWA — Federal Justice Minister Arif Virani says he is confident the Liberals’ bail-reform bill will have an impact, but he says he cannot measure what that will be.  

Virani is appearing before the Senate legal committee that is studying Bill C-48, which seeks to toughen up access to bail for certain violent offenders.

The House of Commons passed the bill by unanimous consent last week, skipping over the step of sending it to a committee of MPs for review.

Virani says the government has seen a rise in crime both statistically and anecdotally, adding that MPs studied the bail system as a whole earlier in the spring. 

He says all provinces and many police services support the bill, and he encouraged the Senate to work to pass the bill quickly. 

Virani says the discretion to grant bail still lies with  judges, and provinces lack sufficient data about the bail system — so while he thinks reforms will have an impact, he can’t measure what that could look like.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 27, 2023. 

The Canadian Press