Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre said Monday that if his party forms government he will tackle rising car theft across the country by imposing mandatory jail time and tightening bail conditions for repeat offenders.
“Canadians are living in fear,” Poilievre said in Brampton, Ont.
Trudeau’s “mismanagement has allowed organized crime to take over the operations and the running of our federal ports and use them to transport cars stolen in places like Brampton to the Middle East, to Africa and to parts of Europe,” he said.
A future Conservative government would increase mandatory prison time to three years for anyone convicted of auto theft for the third time, Poilievre said. His plan would also deny house arrest for those convicted of auto theft by way of indictment.
Bail conditions would be tightened and people caught stealing cars to benefit organized crime would face harsher penalties under the plan.
The Conservative leader announced his initiative in advance of an auto theft summit taking place Thursday in Ottawa, which was announced last month by Public Safety Minister Dominic Leblanc.
Prime Minister “Justin Trudeau’s reckless policies have allowed car thefts to explode in our communities, and his only action to fix the mess he created is to hold a summit,” Poilievre said in a statement.
“Canadians don’t need another summit, they need a common sense plan to stop the theft and end the crime.”
In announcing the summit, the Liberal government said that in 2022 almost 10,000 vehicles were stolen in Toronto, a 300 per cent increase from the year the Liberals took power.
The Liberals also said that police forces in the Greater Toronto Area had observed a more than 100 per cent increase in carjacking from 2021 to 2022.
Mandatory minimum sentences
Poilievre said he is confident his pledge to increase the mandatory minimum sentence for third-time offenders will not be overturned by the Supreme Court of Canada.
“My legislation is Charter-proof and constitutionally sound,” Poilievre said. “It’s not the courts that have turned loose criminals and allowed this crime wave. It’s Justin Trudeau.”
Former prime minister Stephen Harper introduced a number of mandatory minimum sentences that have since been overturned by the courts.
Poilievre said he would tighten bail conditions, criticizing Bill C-75, which he said allowed repeat offenders to be released into the public despite having multiple arrests and convictions for the same crime.
Under the Criminal Code, a person has the right to a bail hearing within 24 hours of their arrest if a judge or justice of the peace is available, or as soon as possible once someone becomes available.
Prosecutors who wanted to deny bail to someone charged with an offence had the onus of showing the court why the alleged offender should be denied bail.
Bill C-48 made it harder for repeat offenders or those charged with a serious violent offence involving a weapon to get bail by creating a reverse onus on the defence to prove why they should be released.
The Conservatives have said the changes do not go far enough.