Justice delayed, justice denied

By René Basque Spring 2017

By the time you read this message, I will have travelled from sea to sea to sea visiting our branches. Everywhere I went, I heard our members – particularly those in Alberta and Quebec – express frustration about court delays. The number of judicial vacancies across this country is creating unacceptable delays for clients in both criminal and civil matters.

The court delays have now reached a crisis situation. As I write, there are more than 60 full-time judicial vacancies in Canada. The shortage of judges constitutes a significant attack on access to justice across the country. These delays undermine public confidence in our justice system and have a serious impact on victims, witnesses and accused caught up in the criminal justice system and on individuals, families, children and business trying to access our civil justice system.

The CBA has stressed the urgency of implementing a full range of measures to relieve the current pressure on courts across the country. They include filling existing vacancies; permanently increasing judicial complements where a need has been identified; providing temporary relief through the appointment of deputy judges; and maximizing opportunities to engage supernumerary and retired (but age-eligible) judges in areas of critical shortages.

We want to ensure that the dismissal of cases like in the Jordan matter – where the Supreme Court established a new framework for determining unreasonable delay in criminal matters – is an exception and does not become the rule.

The CBA will continue to urge the federal government to fill all appointments and to name further positions where the need is most felt.

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