Western PMs disappointed by delay in federal bail reform for repeat offenders

Leaders from BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Yukon, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories attended the one-day conference in Whistler.

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WHISTLER – Western Canada’s prime ministers said Tuesday they are “extremely disappointed” with the federal government for failing to pass bail reforms to target repeat offenders before Parliament adjourned last week for the summer.

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Speaking at the end of the Western Prime Ministers’ conference in Whistler, BC, host Prime Minister David Eby urged the federal government to prioritize passage of the Penal Code amendment bill as soon as possible.

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Eby said all 13 Canadian prime ministers agreed on the urgent need for bail reform at a Federation Council meeting earlier this year, and Western prime ministers highlighted their disappointment at the lack of movement in the statement released after Tuesday’s conference. .

“We all had a hard time understanding the decision that was made in the federal Parliament not to convene the bail reform bill,” Eby said. “All of Canada’s prime ministers agreed that this was a priority. The police have asked the federal government to make this change.”

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Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson echoed Eby’s sentiments, saying prime ministers felt there was momentum at the Federation Council meeting that appears to have stalled in federal Parliament.

“We were glad when they listened to us and tabled a bill,” Stefanson said of the initial parliamentary response. “But of course they haven’t followed through on that. And of course, if those changes are not made for bail reform, obviously it will have a significant impact on our communities… We need to make sure those violent offenders don’t keep getting out on bail.”

Leaders from British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Yukon, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories attended the day-long conference.

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The prime ministers said that while they come from different political parties and geographic regions, they were able to find a united front on issues like the need for more federal help on strategic infrastructure, immigration, energy security, labor mobility and climate action.

Both Eby and Alberta Premier Danielle Smith criticized federal government funding to address these issues in western Canada, as provinces and territories lack per capita “equivalency” in monetary support for these programs.

Eby said BC clearly hasn’t received its fair share of funding, and has repeatedly raised the issue with its federal counterparts.

“It does not mean that other provinces should receive less funds,” he said. “It means that the funds available from the federal government must be distributed fairly.”

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Smith said it’s also important that federal funds reach each province and territory “without strings attached” so that each jurisdiction can identify its own projects that address specific local needs.

The premiers said they all feel the federal government has room to improve when it comes to supporting Western Canada.

Eby characterized the meeting as fruitful, with the premiers discussing how provinces and territories can work together to identify, plan and authorize key corridors for transport, utilities, telecommunications and trade so that a more efficient system can be created. .

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