MP McLeod Says Criminal Justice System is in Disorder

Ottawa (February 17, 2017): Cathy McLeod, Member of Parliament for Kamloops – Thompson – Cariboo, says the Liberal government has thrown the criminal justice system into disorder by not making judicial appointments a priority.

“We learned this week that lawyers across Canada have asked that more than 800 criminal cases be suspended due to unreasonable delays. These cases include attempted murder, manslaughter and murder,” said McLeod. “It appears that the Justice Minister simply hasn’t made judicial appointments a priority in order to deal with this backlog.”

Last fall the Minister of Justice pledged to fill 60 judicial vacancies in Canada in order to address the issue of inordinate court delays. Since then, only 24 positions have been filled which has led to trials being dropped, including those involving such serious offences as murder and rape. In response to questioning this week, she boasted about reconstituted judicial advisory committees.

“Months after the Justice Minister announced her judicial advisory committees were formed, nearly half of the spots are vacant, with not a single person being appointed in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Manitoba or Saskatchewan,” stated McLeod. “How is the minister going to fill 60 judicial vacancies when she cannot even fill the committees responsible for vetting judicial applicants?”

Last December Chief Justice McLachlin criticized the federal government’s judicial hiring process as lacking foresight. She stated that ‘the perpetual crisis of judicial vacancies in Canada is an avoidable problem that needs to be tackled and solved.’

“How many more months have to pass until the Justice Minister finally has a system in place for anticipating and filling vacancies? Certainly after 15 months on the job she should keep her promise and show respect for victims and their families by having an efficient criminal justice system in place,” concluded McLeod.