June 17th, 2024

Catch-and-release bail system a failure


By Lethbridge Herald on December 31, 2022.

LH EDITORIAL BOARD

Goodbye, 2022. You were quite the experience! But will 2023 be any different or better? Only time will tell.

As we say goodbye to yet another year, it’s only natural to wonder what lies ahead for our city, province, country and world.

Like every year, 2022 was an eventful one. It had highs and lows, conflicts and celebrations. It was a year many experienced loss in their lives while others had children, got married or had other reasons to consider 2022 one of the best in their lives.

To each of us, 2022 will provoke different emotions when we think about it. Locally, we saw many matters come to the forefront of the public conscience – the homeless situation and encampments spent much time in the news. We were finally a year totally free of  COVID-19 restrictions, free to celebrate holidays and special events in person with no limitations. 

We could also mourn losses with all of our loved ones.

We saw gasoline prices and inflation skyrocket. The provincial government has provided relief on the former by lowering the provincial fuel tax which will be completely eliminated for several months starting Sunday, a much-needed respite.

We saw city council give residents an annual property tax increase of just over five per cent in each of the next four years, a matter which has prompted both opposition and understanding from residents.

And while a community survey showed Lethbridge residents overwhelmingly have a positive perception of life here, that 90 per cent response is still down from the 2020 survey by four per cent.

Of those 90 per cent of respondents who do have a positive perception, 34 per cent feel quality of life is very good while 57 per cent say it’s good.

Thirty one per cent of survey respondents say social issues top their personal list of concerns, those matters which we’ve heard loudly and clearly here as has city council, most recently at two public hearings regarding bylaw amendments requested by the Lethbridge Housing Authority.

The LHA is trying to improve the homeless situation by getting people who do want off the streets and want to change their lives into supportive housing. Unfortunately, the problems many are experiencing with the behaviours of some are impacting perceptions of their endeavours. 

The LHA knows not everybody is willing to change and live by the rules they impose – which is evident in their eviction rates – but that organization is trying to make a difference for Lethbridge and those who truly want to turn their lives around.

Unfortunately, the experience of too many business owners, workers and residents downtown is clouding perception of the LHA efforts. 

A massive recent fentanyl bust in our core may be the last straw for those who are fed up with the criminal behaviours of some who are making the downtown core their playground.

Drug dealers are a huge problem here and they will continue to cause a problem until the justice system begins cracking down on prolific offenders and keeps them locked up until they face accountability.

The catch-and-release bail system is a travesty of justice and an abject failure of the federal Liberal government to address crime in our country.

Bill C-75, enacted by Parliament on March 29, 2018, is a flawed document that puts community safety across Canada at risk.

Amendments to that bill were made, according to the federal justice department, to “streamline the process by increasing the types of conditions police can impose on accused so as to divert unnecessary matters from the courts and reduce the need for a bail hearing when one is not warranted.”

The amendments – which you can see at justice.gc.ca – also legislate what Ottawa calls a principle of restraint for police and courts “to ensure that release at the earliest opportunity is favoured over detention, that bail conditions are reasonable, relevant to the offence and necessary to ensure public safety….”

This so-called “earliest opportunity” provides an opportunity for drug traffickers and other criminals to get back on streets quickly to continue their anti-social, harmful behaviours. 

And while criminals can be charged with breaching bail conditions, the so-called Zora decision made by the Supreme Court of Canada in 2020, even makes those charges difficult to stick. 

In that decision, the court ruled that to be found guilty of breaching bail conditions people have to know they are breaching them or that they are seriously risking a breach.

If bail conditions were more strict, perhaps we’d be seeing less drug dealing and fewer overdoses in our downtown, we might be seeing fewer unhoused downtown where dealers prey on the so-called vulnerable. And what is the definition of vulnerable? We are all, in some ways, vulnerable so why are some people allowed to use that as an excuse for their conduct?

Why is the federal justice system handcuffing law enforcement from doing its job? The federal government needs to take accountability for this.

Perhaps if there were stricter bail regulations, our downtown would be experiencing fewer of the problems that are affecting communities across the country.

Perhaps, the Lethbridge Housing Authority might actually get some support for its efforts to reduce the numbers of homeless on city streets.

But arguably because of Bill C-75 and its impact on our communities, the LHA is facing a tough battle as will any organization that is making a legitimate effort to address the issues impacting downtown.

We can only hope change will come in 2023. But it’s going to take a massive shift in attitude toward crime by the federal government. 

Is there a chance that change will come from a government that, with its controversial Bill C-21, appears to be taking aim at legitimate owners of firearms?

Don’t hold your breath. With catch-and-release bail, protection of the rights of criminals is clearly more important in Ottawa than the rights of law-abiding Canadians.

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Dennis Bremner

Good article, once again, you write it as it is. That happens too infrequently in my opinion but at least the Herald Editorial Board is moving in the right direction. Passive avoidance which you were practicing does not work.
It is still the approach of our politicians at the Provincial level. The most passive of all is the person that represents the downtown Ms Phillips.
She insists monthly she speaks to the people of Lethbridge and then picks Canadian wide issues like Doctors/Nurses to try to drum up support while ignoring her own constituents affected by Catch and Release, in the Downtown and surrounding area.
Ms Phillips represents West Side and all of downtown up to and including London Road Residents until you reach 13th Street. So where is she?
This is not an NDP/UCP issue this is a complacency issue by politicians, period. This is a lack of cooperation from a Representative who criticizes for criticism sake only and avoids the elephant in the room! No idea how many times I have to call Ms Phillips out before she finally addresses the issue, so far nada, nothing, zero!
As for Mr. Neudorf, he continues to “appear” to support anything his government says! I addressed the 42 bed facility across from the bakery on Stafford personally with him, telling him what it will do to our downtown, he appeared shocked, but that did not change anything that we have seen, thus far. As quickly as that happened, suddenly and not surprisingly Mr Mayashiro NDP East comes out in favor of this “High Acuity 42 bed facility”. So you know he is jumping on the NDP dictated approach by Ms Phillips. So if the NDP get in. They will stuff everything into the downtown. If the UCP stay in, their misdirection, complacency and subservience to the nonprofits will ensure the same thing occurs!
I also discussed the totally conflicted results of the SSIG and how the entire committee except a small voting minority had vested interest in the results. It is now too late to toss the SSIG recommendations and to start anew.
So we have avoidance by our elected at the provincial level. We have a pre-determined result by the SSIG stuffing this fiasco into our downtown. We have a catch and release program that ensures recycled criminality, we have Council who is not supported and now holds this BAG of CRUD with NO “studied” options given to them other than downtown, and finally we have LHA
LHA is as guilty as the rest of the nonprofits. They all thought it was “clever” and “socially acceptable” to call everyone “Homeless” and repeat it et nauseum! So to be Politically Correct and not offend the Socially Correct, the politicians started calling everyone “Homeless”. In the end, as I have suggested for years, that comes back to haunt you in spades! It is now that time!
An example. Bare with me while I become more socially unacceptable.
A Drug Addict, who cannot breathe and tie his shoes at the same time. Who is far more incapacitated then a Senior who has Alzheimer’s (who is locked up in a Senior’s Residence because “we care for his/her safety). Who robs us blind to support his/her habit falls under the new Socially Acceptable term “Homeless” and the Catch and Release Program supports him/her in his/her pursuit! We then must raise taxes on the very Residents and Businesses affected, so we can cripple them and combat the above. Can we get more stupidity injected here, I DON’T THINK SO!!!!

This term for nonprofits created better opportunity to raise money from donors or governments so they could carry on God’s work. The term allowed them to get indignant if you professed the differences between these people. The term allowed them to become outraged when some accommodations were to be offered and the nasty residents of Lethbridge objected!
So when LHA who also is milking the term says to the residents of Lethbridge that they wish to put the Homeless into Halmrest Senior’s Residents and their is backlash, they cannot understand why?
Here is why LHA! You wish to house the homeless, first alarm bell goes off with the residents of Lethbridge, why? They picture the same individual who cannot breathe and tie his shoes at the same time now becoming a neighbor! Then to make things worse you try to slide the term shelter into Castle Apartments and at the 11th hour withdraw it making it appear you tried to screw a bunch of businesses but alas it did not work. You then stand before committee and try to reverse the term homeless and think, residents will believe you?
The nonprofits of this city are their own worst enemy. What they, the medical community and the religious have to understand is the term “homeless” does not work on residents who fear for their safety and security and see nothing being done by the judicial system.
We all see you as the enemy because you prefer to be Socially Acceptable to ensure a better financial picture for YOU! But, fail the litmus test when trying to ensure a better safer more secure future for US!
I truly believe you have to be a moron not to realize that a drug addict is not homeless. A Drug addict lost his/her home because they chose to take drugs. That does not mean, I or anyone else is responsible to provide him/her with another home. Especially a home next door! So where do WE as taxpayers offer everyone help? Prime Real Estate? Society Killing Real Estate? Residence killing Real Estate? Nonprofits want it downtown, we know that because every other city has 100s of nonprofits serving people in 100s of downtowns, right? How is that working for them? So, do we want that?
Cities have seen what nonprofits will stoop too when trying to house people. Residents are wise to the manipulation of terms and are totally, and with good reason know, you are “not” working to ensure their safety. In fact in all occurrences created thus far in this city, it can be proven with out a doubt, you are here to destroy our society, the downtown, and the surrounding residents security.
If you wish me to articulate further in front of ANY group, I will do so, but I know I am safe because you proclaim you Love our city, and you also know(deep down in your heart, if you have one) you are willfully engaging in a process to destroy the downtown and surrounding residents. I will not be called upon because you cannot face facts, you prefer la-la-land where everything will be ok, honest! Ergo DTES Vancouver, Seattle, Phoenix, etc etc etc I will talk to anyone, anytime, anywhere, period! goto https://lethccc.com , click Other info then Contact Us. I will get back to you!

A thought to remember:
” It does not take a big city with a drug problem to kill most of its society, it just takes —-a big drug problem in a small city—- to achieve that!”

If you started calling a spade a spade then residents/businesses “might” understand what you are doing.
Try this:
The Addicted- Alcoholics/Drug Addicts
The Recovering- Rehab’d
The Homeless- the poor, the downtrodden, the people who, through no know fault of their own, lost their home.
I realize that may affect your bottom line but at least you will be honest with residents (those people that pay the taxes that allows you to take home your salaries). Once they realize you are not con artists attempting to hide “shelters” next door to them perhaps donations will pick-up.
The Socially UNacceptable and Politically INcorrect Author is also called
Doomsday Dennis

Last edited 1 year ago by Dennis Bremner
buckwheat

Haven’t got anything nice to say. Must be one of those parasite NDP’ers. No solutions just a mud slinger. Get lost.

Dennis Bremner

You are incorrect, I have not stated a position on either.

pursuit diver

Excellent article! Sadly many do not get it!
An OPP officer recently died because of the catch and release program.
It is almost like the feds are purposely trying to destroy Canada! They have bankrupt it by doubling the Canadian debt in just 3 years. Allowed the Chinese to train iat Salt Spring Island and at Petawawa, our SpecOps base, allowing our country to fracture while the PM runs around the world trying to be a world leader, allowing our judicial and penal systems to become failures , while they disarm law-abiding gunowners as the world moves into WW III, which by all defintions we are currently in.
In my mind, Canada is doomed under Trudeau!
Catch and release endangers society, but Ottawa doesn’t care! Law abiding citizens have few rights anymore, while criminals are appear to have all the rights!

buckwheat

Read lethccc.com and hush.

Dennis Bremner

Well said!