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Justice minister to reveal plans for targeted changes

Justice Minister David Lametti and the federal government are expected to bring forward legislation to enact bail reform as early as Tuesday.

The government has given notice to the House of Commons that it intends to introduce a bill to amend the Criminal Code.

Lametti has said he will make “targeted reforms” to the Criminal Code after the provinces and territories publicly raised concerns about repeat offenders.

The federal government said the changes will aim to deal with repeat violent offenders and offences involving firearms and other dangerous weapons.

The premiers had asked the government to create a “reverse onus” system for some offences. That would require defendants to show the court why they should be released on bail, rather than requiring the prosecution to show why an individual should not be released.

They were optimistic the federal government would do just that following meetings in March with Lametti and Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino.

Bronwyn Eyre, Saskatchewan’s justice minister, said at the time there was a constructive attitude at the meetings and ministers from most provinces indicated they felt their proposals were well accepted by the federal government.

Lametti did not say at the time whether more “reverse onus” provisions would be introduced, but after what he called good and productive meetings with his provincial and territorial counterparts, he said there was “broad consensus on a path forward.”

Pressed by the Conservatives during question period in the House of Commons on Monday, Lametti said he had been working on the issue with stakeholders since October and reforms would be “coming soon.”

“We have heard the call with respect to repeat violent offenders, we’ve heard the call with respect to offences with weapons,” he said. “We’ve promised to act. It’s a complicated problem, but we’re doing it together with the provinces and territories.”

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