February 18, 2012
Courts In Crisis
Chilliwack has longest trial
waits in BC
Gwen O'Mahony for the NDP
Democrats held the Liberal government to account this week for the
crisis they have created in our courtrooms, with delayed and
cancelled trials allowing criminals to walk free.
On Thursday in the
legislature, New Democrat solicitor general critic Kathy Corrigan
raised concerns that Chilliwack, specifically, has the longest trial
delays among B.C.’s provincial courts.
“On average there is a 16-month delay to find the next available
court date in Chilliwack.”
Corrigan said it is unacceptable that the government has left the
courts in such a crisis. She said Chilliwack also has the longest
delays in B.C. for child protection hearings (an average of eight
months), the longest delays in family trials (average 10 month
delay), the longest delays in adult criminal two-day trials (an
average 16-month delay), and the third longest delays for
settlements and civil trials.
When asked if they were going to show some leadership and act
decisively to fix this intolerable crisis in our justice system, the
Liberals refused to take any responsibility after 11 years in
On Wednesday, Adrian Dix and the New Democrats raised a recent case
where an alleged child predator went free after provincial court
Judge Daniel Steinberg was forced to cancel the trial because of
Judge Steinberg said in his decision, "There is…only one word to
describe the current state of the Provincial Court of British
Columbia's ability to handle its caseload: abysmal."
Judge Steinberg continued, "I find that the consequences of the
government's decision-making and priority-setting have meant the
creation in this case, as in many others, of an intolerable
delay…The government has spoken through its actions, and the stay…is
Leonard Krog, New Democrat attorney general critic, said in the
legislature Wednesday, “Criminals walk the streets of British
Columbia who should be in jail.
“This serious shortage of judges arose because of deliberate
government policy,” said Krog. “The reason people are walking the
streets is because of deliberate government policy. Those aren't my
words. Those are the words of Provincial Court judges across this
province, who have said it over and over again. The Liberal
government closed courthouses.”
Last week a B.C. Ministry of Finance audit was quietly released that
precisely lays out the problems in British Columbia’s justice
system, and says while crimes have dropped, the number of delayed
and cancelled trials has increased under this government. The report
has been on government desks since September.
“The Liberal government has been sitting on this audit for six
months, and in that time the cases that have been cancelled or are
under threat of being cancelled are getting more severe,” said Krog.
“While the child internet luring trial was cancelled, another
drinking and driving case resulting in death is under threat of
Adrian Dix and the New Democrats believe British Columbians want a
government that will show leadership and act decisively to fix the
intolerable crisis in our justice system.
© Copyright (c) 2012 The Valley Voice