An association representing Black lawyers in Canada says more Black people will be sent to jail if the Liberal government’s bail-reform legislation passes as is.
And Indigenous Bar Association member Christa Big Canoe says it runs the risk of seeing more Indigenous women kept behind bars if a proposed provision around intimidate partner violence is kept in place.
Representatives of the Canadian Association of Black Lawyers and the Indigenous Bar Association are testifying before a Senate committee studying Bill C-48, which seeks to toughen up access to bail for certain repeat, violent offenders.
The legislation would expand reverse-onus provisions to include those who have a previous conviction or even a discharge relating an offence of intimate partner violence.
Big Canoe says Indigenous women who are victims of domestic violence are often charged by police when an officer responds to an incident, and shifting the onus to such women to prove why they should be released before trial carries the potential for harm.
Canadian Association of Black Lawyers member Theresa Donkor says the legislation undermines the Liberal government’s efforts to address racial discrimination and the overrepresentation of Black people behind bars.