If you look at the studies about what is actually happening in bail court—and we ourselves did a study where we observed bail courts across the country—you see that there is practice happening on the ground that is not in line with the law. We've now had several Supreme Court pronouncements very clearly setting out what the law of bail is. We have had a ladder principle entrenched in statute for decades, yet our bail courts continue to require sureties out of hand in Ontario or, in Alberta, to require cash bail, not in compliance with the statute. Most bail proceedings proceed on consent. They are quick affairs. They do not generally have accused that are represented by private counsel. Most accused will say just about anything to be released from bail that day.
Really, what we're dealing with here is a practice that has departed quite considerably from the law, so when I see a legal reform that entrenches the law and makes it more clear, I'm concerned that it doesn't address that culture and that practice. If you read Professor Webster's suggestions about what actually needs to happen to change the law of bail, which draw on her experience in youth criminal justice and were incredibly successful in reforming the youth criminal justice system, you see that it was a wholesale reset of the entire culture, which required a new legislative slate and actually going out and saying, no, things are different now.
I do think that some of the amendments we've proposed could make real differences on the ground, because they would be real, substantive changes, but when I talk to duty counsel about whether Antic has made a difference on the ground, for example, they say no. They say that the justices of the peace say this was already the law and they're already applying the law. They agree that this is the law and they don't need to change, and things continue on as they have. Just reinforcing what the law is, I think, is unfortunately not going to be enough. We really need to send stronger signals and some more practical tools to address the power imbalances that happen in bail court.