-Reported by Richard Coffin
The Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities (FONOM) says the issue of people being arrested and then let out on bail shortly after is having a negative impact on communities across Ontario.
Danny Whalen, FONOM President, says their northern task force on ‘catch and release’ recently held its first meeting with policing partners from several communities including North Bay, Timmins and Sault Ste. Marie.
“The frontline officers will arrest an individual take them to the court and when they’re back at the office doing the paperwork the next officer is walking in with the same individual,” he says. “It’s an expensive, repetitive process that simply isn’t working.”
Whalen says it’s taxing on police resources and municipal budgets.
FONOM has four recommended amendments for Bill C-75.
1. Create a designation of a chronic persistent offender
2. Allow community impact statements at bail and at bail hearings
3. Creating reverse onus in bail for all firearm offences
4. Ensure bail-related firearm charges go to the superior court for bail hearing.
Whalen says they want to get as many voices to the table as possible noting the task force’s next meeting in Timmins will include Indigenous representation and others.
“We’re going to open an invitation to someone from the Ministry of the Solicitor General’s office and perhaps the Attorney General’s office so that when we do go to the Attorney General we have valid requests,” he says.
Catch and release will also be the focus of a panel discussion at FONOM’s conference in Parry Sound in May.