Poilievre vows ‘jail not bail’ for repeat offenders ahead of auto theft summit in Ontario

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Published February 5, 2024 at 1:37 pm

Pierre Poilievre india canada

Pierre Poilievre says a Conservative federal government would be tougher on auto crime and promised mandatory prison sentences for repeat offenders.

The Conservative Party of Canada leader made the comments at a press conference in Brampton on Monday ahead of the federal government’s national summit on combatting auto theft which starts this week.

Taking aim at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the campaign-style address, Poilievre said a CPC government would introduce legislation to ensure repeat offenders see “jail not bail,” a new charge in the criminal code, and a three-year minimum sentence for “repeat car thieves” convicted of their third offence.

He also said the Cons would suspend eligibility for house arrest for those convicted of vehicle theft.

Poilievre said his party would “fix the criminal code to put the criminals in jail,” reform the RCMP to stop organized crime and secure Canada’s ports “to keep the illegal drugs out and our cars in the country.”

But legislation from the previous Conservative government, specifically around mandatory minimum sentencing, has since been challenged and in some cases overturned by the Supreme Court of Canada

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Under the Criminal Code, an accused person has the right to a bail hearing within 24 hours of being arrested, or as soon as possible, if a judge is available.

When questioned on whether the changes would do away with the presumption of innocence and interfere with an accused’s rights, Poilievre claimed his proposed shake-ups to the justice system would be “Charter-proof.”

Auto crime has been a rising trend in Canada and particularly in Toronto and GTA communities like Mississauga and Brampton.

Peel Regional Police say there were more than 7,600 vehicle thefts reported across both cities last year — more than 4,300 in Mississauga and over 3,300 in Brampton.

The feds are holding its first National Summit on Combatting Auto Theft this week, bringing law enforcement and auto industry stakeholders to the table to come up with better ways to slow the growth in auto theft plaguing most major Canadian cities.

Premier Doug Ford has also announced $18 million over three years to help police services combat and prevent auto theft, with $900,000 going to Peel Regional Police and $895,760 for the Hamilton Police Service.

Police say stolen vehicles can be used as a revenue tool for organized crime groups, either being traded as currency or used in crimes before being ditched or destroyed.

Some end up shipped overseas, with police aware of used car lots in countries like Ghana which appear to be selling stolen vehicles from Ontario.

But police say law enforcement and insurance companies are facing serious challenges when trying to bring the stolen rides back to Canada, despite photo evidence of the vehicles and the licence plates.

Poilievre blamed the spike in crime squarely on the prime minister,  saying people are “living in fear.”

“His mismanagement has let organized crime take over the operations and the running of our federal ports and use them to transport cars stolen in places like Brampton,” he said.

Toronto-area police services say there was a 104-per-cent increase in carjackings between 2021 and 2022 while vehicle thefts rose nearly 50 per cent in Ontario. There were 9,600 vehicles stolen in Toronto alone that same year, 300 per cent more than in 2015.

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