After an hour with CKNW’s mid-morning talk show, I conclude that it provides misinformation more pervasive than does a jock-sniffing sports call-in show. Unfortunately, Corus Radio has a province wide stage for its garbage.
Bill Good led one segment editorializing about BC’s failure to mete out vengeance against Stanley Cup vandals and compared this to Britain’s rush to punish looters and street rioters. Good played a clip of Christy Clark inviting him to hold her accountable for prosecuting “those folks responsible” to “the full extent of the law.” She said, they “will not be able to hide.”
So Bill Good began the process of holding Christy Clark to account. He did so by inviting Suzanne Anton, mayoral candidate for the BC Liberal farm team, on air to criticize Mayor Gregor Robertson for delays in prosecuting the rioters. “Surely some of those people could be fast-tracked for intense investigation,” offered Good, apparently unconcerned about politicians interfering directly with police services.
Anton reported that after the London riots, British Prime Minister Cameron pulled everyone back from holidays and had a full day’s debate in the national Parliament. I assume Anton thinks Mayor Robertson should have done the same.
Claiming political and legal responses in the U.K. demonstrate excellence, Anton said, “Our system is the British system, the BC system is identical to that in Britain. “There are some procedural differences and so on but the system, the test, is identical.”
Well, Ms. Former Prosecutor, that’s not true and both you and Bill Good know it. Yes, the foundation of our legal system is from British jurisprudence but the two countries have evolved differently. In Canada, we don’t have Ecclesiastical courts, a Court of Chivalry or Courts Leet. Nor do we have the Magistrates’ Court system as have the British. Here is a recent excerpt from Tory paper The Telegraph by Magistrate Trevor Grove:
Normally, magistrates go about their business without attracting much attention. Even though these unpaid, legally unqualified volunteers deal with more than 90 per cent of the country’s criminal cases, their only reward is a sense of doing something worthwhile for the community.
…Then came the August riots. Suddenly, events inside our magistrates’ courts have become front-page news. Sessions have been held through the night, and even on Sundays…
Although much of the judicial work has been handled by professional district judges, JPs have been exceptionally busy. …the whole point of the magistracy is that it provides local justice, administered by local people.
Contrary to the information offered on CKNW, the legal systems are quite different and I think that, largely, the Canadian differences are defensible. Do we want unpaid, legally unqualified volunteers dealing with more than 90 per cent of the country’s criminal cases? I don’t.
However, I would like to see fundamental problems with BC courts addressed and a different response than the British “whack ’em and bash ’em” approach to antisocial behavior. Problems in our criminal justice system were evident well before the June 15 outbreak of violence after a hockey game. Moving more quickly on Stanley Cup rioters will set free impaired drivers, drug dealers and others now awaiting much delayed trials.
A few links from before the present contretemps demonstrate current judicial sluggishness was entirely predictable:
CBC News, December 20, 2010, Crown prosecutor shortage hits B.C.
There are no longer enough prosecutors to handle the legal work of convicting criminals in B.C., the head of the B.C. Crown Counsel Association is warning.
Association president Samiran Lakshman says the government has stripped the criminal justice system of resources, by closing courtrooms, cutting legal aid, and failing to hire enough judges and prosecutors.
“What we’ve seen is a systematic stripping of the criminal justice system, from not filling provincial court justice positions, to cutting legal aid, to stripping Crown offices of the ability to do our job,” he said.
Toronto Sun, March 6, 2011, B.C. court backlog may benefit defendants:
A lack of funding for B.C.’s justice system could result in criminal cases being dismissed because a defendant’s right to a fair and speedy trial is in jeopardy…
Vancouver Sun, May 11, 2009, Funding for police, prosecutors a contentious election issue:
During Sunday’s debate, NDP Leader Carole James asked why, if the Liberals were dedicated to fighting crime, did the party’s budget forecast a cut in funding for corrections and prosecution services over three years?
Liberal Leader Gordon Campbell ignored the question…