Did Edmonton police pause bail submissions during Oilers games?

Kyle Cantlon
·3 min read
The Alberta government is claiming that data shows the Edmonton police have delayed the submission of bail documents on Edmonton Oilers game nights. (Getty)
The Alberta government is claiming that data shows the Edmonton police have delayed the submission of bail documents on Edmonton Oilers game nights. (Getty)

It’s being alleged in a class-action lawsuit that staff at the Edmonton Police Service (EPS) Downtown Division were responsible for many accused criminals being held for “unjustly long periods without bail,” according to filings of a proposed class action lawsuit obtained by Maclean’s.

Ryan Reilly, the lawsuit’s lead plaintiff, claims he was held by Edmonton police in 2017 on domestic violence charges for about 36 hours before his bail hearing. The Supreme Court of Canada unanimously granted him a stay of proceedings this fall, agreeing the over-hold was contrary to the Criminal Code and a violation of Reilly’s Charter rights, calling it “an instance of a systemic and ongoing problem that was not being satisfactorily addressed.”

In an affidavit attempting to explain what goes into meeting the 24-hour requirement for bail detainees, Travis Stang, assistant chief Crown prosecutor in the province, pointed to Edmonton’s police force as the main problem while noting a pattern they’ve found on nights the city’s NHL team is in action.

“One source of frustration for the CBO (crown bail office) has been the late delivery of electronic bail packages, or the mass delivery of electronic bail packages late at night and close to the end of business hours,” Stang states. “We noted a delay in the submission/receipt of bail packages from EPS that we observed seemed consistent with and mostly coincided with the televised playoff game times in 2018, most notable [sic] the Edmonton Oiler games.”

And Stang’s office came with receipts to back those claims, submitting a graphic showing when bail packages were uploaded compared to the times and dates of Oilers games.

(Alberta Public Records via Maclean's)
(Alberta Public Records via Maclean's)

According to the data, there were chunks of hours and even entire evenings where no bail documents were submitted, with most of these periods coinciding directly with Oilers games. Because of the 24-hour-nature of the bail process, the pauses created a plethora of “over-holds” which can come with a laundry list of financial, social and emotional consequences for the accused.

In a written statement to Maclean’s through spokeswoman Carolin Maran, Edmonton police denied any link between “televised hockey” and its bail document submissions: “The EPS firmly rejects the assertion made by Mr. Stang, and finds it to be unfounded.”

Per Macleans, the statement argues that “The graphic does not, in itself, prove a link between over-holds and the delay of bail-package submissions during hockey games. And there are long stretches shown with no bail uploads from Edmonton on non-game days, though Stang’s affidavit singles out no other particular factor.”

Edmonton police say myriad factors “affect the timeliness of bail, from the number of charges to the availability of justices of the peace, prosecutors and duty counsel who represent detainees,” according to Maclean’s.

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