The Current

Canada's bail system set up to fail, says criminal defence lawyer

In Canada, the bail system that determines who gets bail and under what conditions has been under great scrutiny for some time. Some advocates have even called it a crisis. The Current examines the issues and asks how to fix a broken system.
"Ottawa’s main bailout court, and others, have devolved into dysfunctional and punitive bodies, devoid of the rule of law," says Ontario Justice of the Peace Julie Lauzon, in a recent National Post article. (Meesh/Flickr)

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The right to reasonable bail is a fundamental tenet of the justice system in Canada. Just as with the right to counsel, or being considered innocent until proven guilty. 

But, for the past few years there have been rumblings of a crisis inside Canada's bail system.

What we see are just really heavy and onerous bail conditions.- Daniel Brown, criminal defence lawyer 

Advocacy groups, such as the John Howard Society and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, have been sounding the alarm. 

And from inside the system, Ontario Justice of the Peace Julie Lauzon blasts the state of the bail system, calling it broken and declaring that the rule of law had been "thrown out the window," in a recent op-ed piece for the National Post.

Justice Lauzon's words have started an open discussion about Canada's bail system and the need to fix what's broken. And also to challenge what's working too.

Guests in this segment:

The Current did ask Canada's Minister of Justice Jody Wilson-Raybould for an interview. She was not available. We also contacted the attorney general of Ontario for comment but did not receive a reply.

This segment was produced by The Current's Sarah Grant, Kinsey Clarke, Sujata Berry and Pacinthe Mattar.