LIBERALS NEED TO ADDRESS MASSIVE COURT DELAYS
February 7th, 2012
VICTORIA – As the premier prepares to attend a roundtable discussion on public safety issues in the Okanagan today, the deepening crisis in B.C.’s court system remains unaddressed, says Leonard Krog, New Democrat critic for the Attorney General.
“Addressing the massive court delays in this province should be a priority for any public safety plan,” said Krog, the MLA for Nanaimo. “The government has a responsibility to ensure criminals get prosecuted in a timely way and the public has the resources necessary to access justice.”
Currently, the number of cases on the edge of being thrown out because of unreasonable delays sits at more than 2,500.
“Judges are warning of an imminent collapse of the system - as a result of a lack of funding,” said Krog. “Yet the Liberals have asked the Criminal Justice Branch to cut $6 million from its budget this year.”
The Liberals have also cut the province’s legal aid budget by 35 per cent this year.
“The extensive cuts the Liberals have made to the justice system over the years has resulted in the dramatic increase in judicial stays of youth and criminal cases that we’re seeing in B.C. courtrooms today,” said Krog. “We spend millions at the front lines, yet when criminals are brought to court and the system takes over, cases fall apart without the necessary resources in place.”
"We've seen far too many sobering examples of how over-burdened our justice system is; letting a cocaine dealer go free in the Kootenays and throwing out the case of a little boy whose puppy was shot."
Krog also flagged concerns that B.C. could end up having to fork out hundreds of millions in added costs from the Harper crime bill if Premier Clark continues to let the federal conservatives run the show.
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.