LIBERALS’ JUSTICE REVIEW LACKS CONCRETE MEASURES
February 8th, 2012
VANCOUVER – While B.C. faces a record amount of judicial stays and a critical backlog in courtrooms, the premier offered yet another review today, lacking any immediate measures that would fix the serious problems her government created, say New Democrats.
“The Liberals have had over a decade to fix the problems plaguing the province’s justice system that have resulted in the dramatic increase in judicial stays that we’re seeing in B.C. courtrooms today,” said Attorney General critic Leonard Krog. “This is not a new government. They’ve had 11 years. This is a crisis the Liberals created and now they’re playing damage control.”
The justice system review announced Wednesday, estimated to cost $195,000, is supposed to consider ways to clear up court backlogs and delays in B.C.’s justice system. There were 109 judicial stays 2011, compared to 56 in 2010. While judicial stays have nearly doubled, cases taking longer than 18 months to get to trial - the point at which charges could be stayed - have increased by 25 per cent.
In addition to the announced review, the government said it would be combining Minister Shirley Bond’s two separate roles as Solicitor General and Attorney General into a single Attorney General Justice Ministry.
“The premier’s new justice review is not new at all,” said Krog. “In fact, the Liberals announced a justice reform review back in 2002 that was supposed to take up and resolve some of the very same questions this review seeks today, yet here we are.”
Krog was referring to the 2002 review Integrated and Collaborative Approaches to Deal with Crime, which took until 2007 for the government to begin adopting an integrated approach to criminal justice reform.
“In 2010, the Liberals held a review to look into legal aid which resulted in the closure of six legal aid offices and B.C.’s only Lawline,” said Krog. “And from 2009 to 2011, the budget for justice transformation went from $10 million to zero.”
Adrian Dix and the New Democrats are calling on the government to fill court vacancies, use community courts more frequently, and explore ways legal aid can be better used to ensure no British Columbian is denied access to justice.