EDITORIAL – At last, it might get tougher for the bad guys to stay out of jail

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

AT LONG LAST, something might be done about the bail system that has created havoc in cities and towns across the country.

Meeting with provincial ministers, federal Justice Minister David Lametti agreed to introduce changes to the Criminal Code targeting repeat offenders and those accused of violent crimes, especially with weapons.

This came after a long period of seeming disinterest, and certainly inaction, on the part of Lametti.

Kamloops has joined the chorus in recent years of communities practically begging that something be done to stem the tide of crime perpetrated by chronic offenders who seemingly go straight back to thefts and assaults, sometimes with tragic results, as soon as they make bail.

BC Liberals have hammered away at the governing New Democrats for the past couple of years on what they like to call the “catch and release program.” David Eby, both in his previous role as attorney-general and now as premier, has consistently pointed the finger at the feds because the laws around bail are in their jurisdiction.

And he’s right. Finally, Ottawa appears willing to make changes.

The strength of Canada’s bail system is also its greatest weakness. Based on the premise that everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty, it prevents accused from languishing in jail while their case moves through the courts, a process that can take months or years.

The Charter of Rights and Freedoms says there has to be a compelling reason for someone to be kept in custody.

Those asking for changes contend the “compelling reason” is obvious in the fact that so many repeat offenders are recommitting time after time. They want more emphasis on protecting the public than it’s been getting.

The answer to fixing what goes on in the streets of Kamloops and other cities is a reverse onus making it tougher for repeat offenders to get bail.

The changes have to be dramatic. Hopefully, Lametti understands that.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops, alternate TNRD director and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the opinion website, and is a recipient of the Jack Webster Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award. He can be reached at

About Mel Rothenburger (9489 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

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