24-07-A — Right to Reasonable Bail in Canada

WHEREAS the right not to be denied reasonable bail without just cause is enshrined in section 11(e) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms;

WHEREAS the Supreme Court of Canada has repeatedly affirmed the right not to be denied reasonable bail without just cause in R. v. Antic, R. v. Myers and R. v. Zora;

WHEREAS public discourse around bail in Canada has been overly critical of these protected rights based on a perceived problem of a “revolving door” system of bail that is not accurate;

WHEREAS the federal government has enacted legislation such as Bill C-48 which creates reverse-onus bail in expanded situations;

WHEREAS people charged with offences who are seeking bail are presumed innocent of those offences as a matter of law;

WHEREAS pre-trial detention in Canada has increased nearly 160% since 1986;

WHEREAS members of equity-deserving and marginalized communities face disproportionate barriers to reasonable bail;

WHEREAS Indigenous, Black, and other racialized groups are overrepresented in pre-trial detention;

WHEREAS individuals in pre-trial detention must pay for basic services such as telephone access and are subjected to invasion of their privacy by recording of telephone conversations with loved ones;

WHEREAS the conditions in pre-trial detention centres are often poorly maintained and overcrowded;

WHEREAS judicial actors have the means under the law to determine whether to grant bail and on what conditions;

BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Canadian Bar Association oppose any efforts to restrict access to reasonable bail in Canada, and urge the federal government and other stakeholders to protect and defend the right to reasonable bail as a constitutionally-protected right.

Moved by Criminal Justice Section

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