‘Ottawa’ Justice Ministers to Meet in Gatineau to Discuss Court Delays
The speed of Canada’s court systems is going to be up for discussion on April 28 as the provincial and territorial justice ministers meet in Gatineau with their federal counterpart, Jody Wilson-Raybould.
“Meaningfully addressing delay in our criminal justice system requires all levels of government to work together,” said an emailed statement Monday from Ontario Attorney General Yasir Naqvi.
Since a July 2016 Supreme Court of Canada ruling, R v. Jordan, set out time limits on how long criminal trials can take, charges in thousands of cases have been at risk of being stayed in Ontario alone. The Crown in Alberta has been “triaging” cases so that more serious ones aren’t stayed.
In Ottawa, a first-degree murder charge was stayed last November, as was a case in which a father was accused of breaking his two-week-old baby’s ankles.
The court ruling has prompted action in several provinces; Naqvi, who’s also an Ottawa MPP, had in February called on Wilson-Raybould to convene the meeting. In a speech at Toronto’s Empire Club, Naqvi also suggested that preliminary inquiries should be scrapped to save time and asked the federal government to fill 11 vacant Superior Court seats. Both are options, the government believes, for speeding up the trial process.
Some requests for stays, based on the Jordan decision, brought forward by defence lawyers have been rejected by judges.
Meanwhile, another case is set to come before the Supreme Court this month. James Cody v. Her Majesty the Queen is expected to go over some of the ground set out by Jordan. While it might not prompt a wholesale overhaul of the Jordan rules, it could help to mitigate some of the fallout by suggesting other ways of compensating the accused for trial delays.