McGuinty Government Working To Make Communities Safer

Archived Release

McGuinty Government Working To Make Communities Safer

Ministry of the Attorney General

Ontario Recommends Reforms To Reduce Illegal Use Of Firearms, Improve Legal Aid And Better Deal With High-Risk Offenders WHITEHORSE, Nov. 8 - The Ontario government is working to make communities safer from gun violence by recommending significant changes to federal law for offences involving the illegal use of firearms, Attorney General Michael Bryant and Community Safety and Correctional Services Minister Monte Kwinter announced today. The announcement was made at a federal- provincial-territorial justice ministers' meeting in Whitehorse, Yukon. "We are asking the federal government to act on an entire package of reforms to firearms offences in the Criminal Code," said Bryant. "Our law needs to send the strongest possible message that we have no tolerance for the illegal possession and use of firearms. Ontario is asking that mandatory minimum jail sentences for gun-related crimes should be increased on offences such as trafficking and importing firearms." "Gun violence is a threat to the safety of our communities," said Kwinter. "We're calling for closer cooperation with the federal government on stopping the flow of illegal guns that come across our borders. Gun smuggling fuels organized crime - we must do all we can to stop it." Ontario is also calling for a number of new offences to be created, with mandatory minimum jail sentences, including "break and enter and steal a firearm" and "robbery where a firearm is stolen." Stolen firearms increase the supply of crime guns in our communities. Kwinter also acknowledged the need for all justice partners to work at ways to reduce the growing number of inmates in provincial facilities awaiting trial and the increasing length of time they are held until their cases are resolved. Another priority for Ontario is the review of legislation designating dangerous and long-term offenders. Ontario made recommendations about high-risk offenders at the last federal-provincial-territorial meeting in January 2005, and a number of them were accepted by the working group established to review the issue. "I look forward to continuing our national discussion of Ontario's recommendations for improvements to the federal legislation dealing with dangerous and long-term offenders," said Bryant. "We appreciate the work that has been done over the past year, and the consideration that the working group has given to our proposals on high-risk offenders. "In Ontario, our Crown attorneys are working to find ways to better protect the public from high-risk offenders. We are confident our combined efforts will lead to more effective legislation and help to make our communities safer." Bryant also called upon the federal government to move forward with a firm commitment on sustainable, long-term funding for legal aid. The province encourages the federal government to commit to new civil legal aid funding starting in 2006-07 that would include family law and domestic violence cases. As well, Ontario supports a federal commitment to ongoing support for successful innovative projects currently financed through the federal Investment Fund. Other discussion items at the November 8-9 meeting cover a wide variety of legal issues. These include: - A recommendation by Alberta that the Criminal Code should be amended to allow DNA sampling of persons who commit offences against prostitutes - A proposal from British Columbia that an omnibus criminal law reform bill should be introduced in the House of Commons on a regular basis - A call from Nova Scotia for a legislative review of the Youth Criminal Justice Act, particularly regarding pre-trial detention and conditions of sentencing, to ensure public safety - A bid from Quebec to amend proceeds of crime legislation, to help combat organized crime by reversing the burden of proof. "Ontario is pleased to collaborate with our federal, provincial and territorial partners on these justice issues," said Bryant. "We are confident the results of our efforts will be a stronger justice system and safer communities for all Canadians." Disponible en fran├žais www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca www.mpss.jus.gov.on.caFor further information: Greg Crone, Ministry of the Attorney General, Minister's Office, (416) 326-1785; Brendan Crawley, Ministry of the Attorney General, Communications Branch, (416) 326-2210; Andrew Hilton, Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, Minister's Office, (416) 325-4973, (416) 559-0259 (cell); Anthony Brown, Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, Communications Branch, (416) 314-7772