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INSIDE THE VILLAGE: Is Canada's bail system really broken?

Last month's tragic shooting death of an OPP officer has sparked plenty of outrage over Canada's so-called 'catch and release' bail system. The truth is a lot more complicated than the soundbites

Welcome back to Inside the Village, a one-of-a-kind podcast where all news is local — and no topic is off-limits.

On this week's episode: Is Canada's bail system really broken?

Last month, an OPP officer was shot and killed while responding to a report of a vehicle in a ditch. Const. Grzegorz Pierzchala was 28 years old — a recent recruit who had just passed his 10-month probation earlier that day.

Two people are now facing first-degree murder charges, including Randall McKenzie, a 25-year-old who, at the time of the fatal shooting, was wanted for breaching his bail conditions.

McKenzie — who was slapped with a lifetime firearms ban in 2018 — was charged in 2021 with numerous weapons-related offences, including carrying a handgun with a defaced serial number and assaulting a peace officer. Yet for reasons that remain unclear, he was granted bail while awaiting trial under strict conditions, including that he wear a GPS monitor, report to police twice a week, live with a surety, and not possess any weapons.

He didn't show up for his next court appearance, and was a wanted man when Const. Pierzchala was shot.

Politicians and police leaders have seized on that fact, demanding an overhaul to Canada's so-called "catch and release" bail system.

Alison Craig, a Toronto-based defence lawyer, has spent plenty of time in bail court during her career. She joins us to talk about how the system really works.

Launched last year, Inside the Village is a news and current affairs podcast that provides a weekly window into some of the best local journalism from across Village Media's chain of Ontario newsrooms. The program also explores bigger-picture issues that impact people across the province.

Every episode is available on this news site /insidethevillage. If you prefer the audio version, it is available wherever you find your favourite podcasts.

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