Crime is up in Canada. In 2021, there were over two million police-reported Criminal Code incidents (excluding traffic), 25,500 more than in 2020. The violent crime rate increased five per cent, while the property crime rate decreased one per cent. Nationally, there were 788 homicides, 29 more than in 2020, an increase of three per cent. Forty-one per cent involved firearms, and 46 per cent were gang related.
These numbers are stark. But numbers aren’t what stick in the minds of voters. Incidents are. The killing of a homeless man in Toronto by a swarm of 14-year-old girls just before Christmas. A TTC worker shot with a BB gun by another group of youths; an elderly woman shoved to a sidewalk where she died. A year of horrific assaults in Vancouver, including a man who went on a stabbing spree in CRAB park, and a couple attacked while loading luggage at the Empress Hotel.
What is behind this surge in violent, frequently random crime? Toronto Mayor John Tory decried lack of mental health supports; rising opioid use is fingered in British Columbia. But the law is to blame as well, specifically the Liberals’ Bill C-75, which reformed the bail process back in 2019.
Bill C-75 addressed a number of issues, including overrepresentation of indigenous people in the corrections system and the high number of persons who remained in custody awaiting trial. The new law legislated a “principle of restraint” for police and courts to ensure that release at the earliest opportunity is favoured over detention.”