Premier plans ‘in-depth review’ of bail-reform bill’s impact on Nunavut

Nunavut MP also welcomes chance to discuss system changes but calls bill ‘just the start’

Nunavut Premier P.J. Akeeagok welcomed Bill C-48, tabled in the House of Commons by federal Justice Minister David Lametti on Tuesday. The proposed legislation is focused on bail reform. (File photo)

By Meral Jamal

A bail-reform bill unveiled this week comes as welcome news to Premier P.J. Akeeagok, who says he looks forward to “having a fulsome engagement” over it with the federal government.

Bill C-48 — which aims to make it harder for repeat violent offenders to be granted bail — was introduced Tuesday by federal Justice Minister David Lametti.

“The challenges we see not just in Nunavut, but right across Canada, of the incarceration being much higher — that’s something I think we’re all aware of,” Akeeagok said at a news conference following the annual Northern premiers’ meeting in Inuvik, N.W.T., on Wednesday.

“Now that [the new bill has] been tabled, I am preparing to have an in-depth review of what was just submitted and what impacts it’s going to have specifically to Nunavut, specifically to Inuit, and the challenges that might be there.”

Bill C-48 follows calls from the Conservatives and Canada’s premiers to make it harder for people accused of crimes involving restricted or prohibited firearms to get bail.

It proposes to do that by reverse onus — or putting the onus on accused — to demonstrate why they should be granted bail instead of the Crown having to show why they shouldn’t.

Lametti’s bill is focused on repeat violent offenders and proposes five specific changes to the Criminal Code as part of it. This includes expanding the reverse onus for intimate partner violence and firearm offences.

As well, it would require courts to consider the accused person’s history of convictions for violence and other community safety concerns when making bail decisions.

The new proposed legislation would benefit Nunavummiut in particular by addressing intimate partner violence in the territory, said Nunavut’s Justice Minister David Akeeagok.

Police-reported intimate partner violence or domestic violence is a public health issue and it occurs at the highest rates in the prairies and territories, according to 2019 data from Statistics Canada.

Nunavut has reported the highest rate of intimate partner violence among the territories, with women 6.7 times more likely to be victimized than men.

“[Bill C-48] supplements the act that we’re currently reviewing, which is our Family Abuse Intervention Act,” David Akeeagok told Nunatsiaq News on Thursday.

“We just held some public consultations this past year … this goes hand in hand [with that].”

The Family Abuse Intervention Act, which has been in place in Nunavut for nearly 20 years, provides for emergency protection, intervention and assistance for anyone who is a victim of intimate partner violence.

Nunavut NDP MP Lori Idlout said she also welcomes the proposed legislation and supports reforming the bail system.

At the same time, she said more needs to be done to ensure a fairer and more equitable justice system, especially for Indigenous people.

“This is just the start — there is more work to do to ensure Indigenous people and other racialized peoples are not overrepresented in pre-trial detention,” Idlout said in an emailed statement.

“Adequate funding must be provided for community-based bail supports so they can carry out the work desperately needed to enforce bail conditions and keep people safe.”

Bill C-48 is in its first reading in the House of Commons. It will have to pass three readings in total in the House of Commons, after which it will be sent to the Senate for consideration.

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(18) Comments:

      • Posted by oh ima on

        I believe in rehabilitation of inmates but unfortunatley there are no real programs in Nunavut. My father was a jp and he said biggest difference between Inuit justice system and southern justices system, Inuit believe in fixing the mind and southerners believing in breaking the mind.
        What your position sweetheart
        Tuco Garcia

        • Posted by Pork Pie on

          I think the idea that Inuit, by comparison with Southerners, are uniquely focused on rehabilitation is a simplistic, cartoonish fiction. I would even argue that Inuit justice, historically, was much more severe than the modern justice system.

          • Posted by oh ima on

            It isn’t simplicity, people were given a chance, if they didn’t correct their behaviors’, they were given the ultimate consequence but were given a chance to fix their minds. My father who was raise in on the land and a knowledge holder wasn’t simplicity as you as a colonized person love to think of knowledge holders and elders are simple minded. Also another elder showed us a stones patterns that house court session run by elders.

            • Posted by William the on

              Johnny, when you say colonizer, don’t you mean conqueror?

            • Posted by Pork Pie on

              I never said Elders are simple. Your way of thinking is.

  1. Posted by Asking for a friend on

    Can a person who commits a firearms offense keep their job in corrections?

    • Posted by 867 on

      Don’t worry. If they lose that job they can get an even better job as Deputy Minister under PJ’s government.

      • Posted by Nelson Muntz on

        …and no criminal check required as it’s Nunavut.

  2. Posted by Make Iqaluit Great Again on

    Whether you are for or against this legislation, one basic thing that everyone understands is that this legislation seeks to toughen the bail system making it harder for certain people to get bail. When in place, that will necessarily result in more Inuit being held in pre trial detention. That is basic, basic common sense that everyone agrees on whether you are a law and order type or not. However, when I say “everyone”, I don’t mean our brilliant MP Ms. Idlout. She is probably the only one who doesn’t understand the whole point of the legislation being to tighten the existing bail laws. Incredibly, she supports the bill on the one hand but, on the other hand, she opposes anything that would increase the number of Inuit offenders in pre-trial detention. How ridiculous!!! And the fact that she’s a lawyer even makes it more ridiculous.
    You can’t have it both ways Ms Idlout!! If you support the bail system being tightened that means more Inuit in pre trial custody! You can’t support that and still remain all woke and say that more needs to be done to reduce the number of Inuit in pre trial custody. It just doesn’t work…..

    • Posted by That’s great on

      I don’t know about the MP , but there’s a bottom line here that you don’t get either, and I surely will speak for many people when I say, that if this legislation is effective, we won’t have to worry to much about pre trial detention because we’ll see less of it, due to less breaking the law in the first place ; that’s where I stand and I know many more do also.

  3. Posted by No Moniker on

    As a former lawyer, it should be surprising our MP is unable to state a clear, nuanced position on bail reform. Instead, we get cut & paste progressive bromides around equity and ‘representation.’

    How do we move forward on this issue, Lori? All we get from you is the signal over substance.

  4. Posted by delbert on

    Lets just take the money from the South. Then just ignore any laws or policies. That keeps us from continuing on down. This road to complete chaos. We don’t have to follow any rules. That the rest of Canadian Society have to follow. We are an example of a progressive culture. Nothing to see here. Just keep sending the checks.

  5. Posted by Tulugaq on

    This kind of legislation is not going to change much in terms of pre-trial incarceration since Canada is one of the democratic countries that incarcerates the most people pre-trial. This is caused mostly by the delays for the court system to hold a trial in any given case, sometimes over 18 months or 2 years while many of these offenders would not get that long a term of incarceration were they found guilty sooner.

    As well, the Criminal Code provides already for situations where the accused has the onus of showing why he or she should be released pre-trial while the presumption of innocence is still the foundation of our criminal justice. The real solution for this mess would be to hold trials much sooner than now and Canada’s Chief Justice has identified one of the problems, the lack of judges to do the job. It’s like everything else, politicians promise tax cuts and to achieve their promises, must cut in public expenses, including in the court system.

    If you don’t mind having innocent people spend months and years in jail without a trial, just for once think that you may be that person because it happens that our court system makes errors since no one is perfect.

    • Posted by If justice was a failure on

      Is there justice or not ? There appears to be lots of injustice towards innocent people charged and found guilty. That’s the tragedy of this all. But I’m thinking that if there’s going to be mistakes made, it’s still great that the real repeated offenders remain in jail at least. Just think about Nunavik. The same people on a continuous trip to and from st Jerome. In the jail, out of jail, committed crime, back in jail, waiting to get out and hurt again, but this time, could be even bigger hurt. The same old, and cost of trials, plane trips, misery to love ones and community. I see people walking around all the time, just waiting for some booze, drugs and a person to hurt. And many just got out of jail.

  6. Posted by Rehabilitation has limitations on

    In our civilized ways, we’re inclined to apply rehabilitative measures, as it demands ethical and political correctness. But rehabilitating a person has limitations that which society doesn’t understand enough about. There are some absolute situations where rehabilitating someone works out. Take a young person getting into trouble with the law , depending on the crime, but usually rehabilitating , and giving a second chance works out for many of these youth. Life goes on well thereafter for mistakes made and learnt lessons. But take the repeated offenders, and the youth that have committed violent crimes. I don’t think it’s that hard to figure out that rehabilitation doesNot work for so many in that category. Thats where we need to securely institute a permanent place to put theses people, and many will do best kept in that setting for life. If we could only measure the disruption to life of the said offender, and the inevitable misery that will be imposed on victims and the good well and the systems of society , keeping them inside , will be justified for the good of humanity.

  7. Posted by Equal only when we die on

    We are not equal in life, but only in death. That’s one of the big problems in life, to think that we are equal. How can a repeated violent offender be equal to a good person? How can a murderer be equal to a loving person? Can a rapist be equal to some one that loves their fellow human? Some people are not human in the way you think. There needs to be a continuous effort to lock away those we think are humans, but are destroying the goodness and love in life. Take the hardcore sexual predator, it’s been proven that they are not able to be rehabilitated. We’ll find out more about the ones that can be rehabilitated if we look harder, and it also applies to repeated offenders, even in the lesser crimes, but nonetheless hurtful crimes. Lock, key, and medication, keep them comfortable and fed, but not to be out in the space with good people.

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