David Eby media availability on Sunday November 20, 2022 announced a new plan to make communities safer along with a new policy on bail is supposed to keep repeat offenders behind bars.
One is meant to strengthen enforcement, “recognizing that we have zero tolerance for violence in our communities” and the other to strengthen intervention services to “help people break the cycle of life in and out of jail” with programs such as a new model of addictions care at St. Paul’s Hospital.
“Being compassionate, concerned and taking action on mental-health and addiction issues does not mean that we have to accept repeated criminal behaviour or violence,” said Eby, “Everyone deserves to feel safe in their community.”
According to Eby, the new strategy would involve response teams made up of probation officers, police, and prosecutors that will focus on repeat offenders as well as more mental health response teams that can serve more BC areas.
Along with revamping the addictions care program at Vancouver’s St. Paul’s Hospital, he says the government also wants to construct 10 new Indigenous justice centres to provide “culturally appropriate” support for people caught up in the system.
In B.C., public safety has been a heated topic, especially in relation to repeat offenders. In certain instances, repeat offenders have been charged with offences including assaulting random people.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the year 2020-21 saw a 35% spike in stranger attacks in Vancouver, according to a prolific offender report by Doug LePard and Amanda Butler for the British Columbia government.
In response to Eby’s announcement, B.C. Liberal Leader Kevin Falcon said the actions Eby is taking are those his party have asked for. They could have been done at anytime in the last 5 and a half years when Eby was attorney general.
Since the B.C. Liberals urged Eby to give an order to Crown prosecutors to end what he called the “catch and release” program for repeat criminal offenders, Falcon stated that 900 people had been violently attacked by strangers in Vancouver alone.
“More than 900 innocent people have been violently attacked by strangers in Vancouver alone since the BC Liberals first called on David Eby to issue a directive to Crown Prosecutors and end his harmful catch and release policy for repeat criminal offenders.
“It’s clear that what was announced this morning had been prepared for months and was withheld for David Eby to opportunistically take the credit. For David Eby to play politics with public safety is unconscionable,” said Falcon.
Falcon said he will remain a skeptic until he sees action.
The province intends to also introduce “unexplained wealth order” legislation by spring. What this means is if the owner of an asset is unable to adequately explain the source of the wealth, the province will have the authority to seize property that looks to be beyond a person’s means. Unexplained wealth orders do not necessarily require even a clear relation to criminality, unlike criminal forfeiture, which normally follows a conviction, and civil and administrative forfeiture, which do not require criminal charges or a conviction.
The BC Civil Liberties Association called the Unexplained Wealth Order an “unnecessary expansion of government power and an unacceptable infringement of Canadians’ rights to the presumption of innocence, due process and privacy.”
Mr. Eby said Sunday that he expects the legislation, which would be a first in Canada, will be challenged in court.
“But British Columbians expect us to do a couple of things. One is to make sure that this is a province where, if you work hard and you follow the rules, that the government is in your corner,” he said.
“The second is that we don’t want our kids to be attracted to a criminal lifestyle by people with fancy cars, fancy clothes, fancy homes, that are earning their money on the misery of people who are suffering in our streets. … I have no doubt that this will be challenged in court because it is new. But I believe we will be successful.”
Premier David Eby was asked is he would have supported government seizing property from people that have no links to crime when he was executive director of the BC Civil Liberties Association..
“I’m the premier of British Columbia” Eby said
“In British Columbia under my leadership. This is not a place where organized crime is welcome, where money laundering is tolerated, where people flaunt luxury goods earned through exploiting the misery of people in our streets. And that is a very clear message that I wanna send to all hard working British Columbians who feel that those who break the rules get ahead while they work hard. That is not going to be the case out of this government