Western Canadian justice officials to press for criminal code changes

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Western Canadian Justice ministers met Saturday to press for changes to the criminal code in regards to organised crime and crime violence.

Said Alberta's Justice Minister, Alison Redford, "We need to cooperate, we need to have a western Canadian approach to ensure that we're sharing information, that police are cooperating, that prosecutors are cooperating so that we can respond to what's happening in our communities as soon as it happens".

One proposal was a western Canadian database to identify known gang members from one province to authorities in another province. The database could also have the potential to inform authorities at correctional facilities if an inmate was being visited by a gang member. The Saskatchewan government plans to hire analysts to study gang member networking.

The ministers also discussed the existing legislation that was in place regulating how police obtain authority to place wiretaps on phone lines. "We want the police to have the right to wiretap people immediately and get authorization from judges immediately after the commission of the crime," said British Columbia Attorney General Wally Oppal.

Another priority was to change the Criminal Code law with regard to bail laws. Redford says that, "Once the person has demonstrated one time that they're not prepared to respect a court order, the second time they go in for breaching those conditions, there shouldn't be an assumption that they're going to respect the court order the second time and there should be a reverse onus and the presumption should be that they will be held without bail."

The idea of a separate gang facility to hold accused gang members was abandoned. "We'd be looking at targeting the hardened adult gang members, the leaders of the gangs who have been in and out of prison for a number of years and who can use a remand centre to go recruit. They could in fact use that as a business networking opportunity per se, which is something we don't want to encourage." said Darryl Hickie, Saskatchewan's minister of corrections, public safety and policing.