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New bail reforms focus on making it harder for repeat violent offenders

The Liberals’ new bail-reform legislation includes new measures that would make it more difficult for some repeat violent offenders to get released on bail.

Justice Minister David Lametti introduced the bill Tuesday morning amid an ongoing plea from premiers, police associations and victims’ rights groups to strengthen the law.

He said the bill responds “directly” to their concerns.

The legislation introduces reverse-onus bail conditions for people charged with serious violent offences involving a weapon, in cases where the person was convicted of a similar violent offence within the past five years.

It will also add some firearms offences to existing reverse-onus provisions, and expand the provision of that measure in cases where the alleged crimes involve intimate partner violence.

While the burden of proof usually rests on prosecutors to convince judges why offenders should stay behind bars, this means that in some cases, the offender will now be the one who has to prove in court why they should be released on bail.

“You are innocent until proven guilty, and this is a critically important part of our legal system,” Lametti said during a news conference on Tuesday.

“But what we’re doing for certain violent offences is changing the default position and making sure that it is only in cases where there isn’t a threat to security.”

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