EDITORIAL: Justice requires major overhaul

Nine new court judges for B.C. great news but may not be enough

The announcement of nine new provincial court judges across the province will help manage the backlog in B.C.’s courtrooms, but alone, it doesn’t do justice to the magnitude of the problem.

Just one day after announcing the new judge appointments, Premier Christy Clark unveiled what she’s calling a ‘reform initiative’ to deal with the significant challenges running pervasive throughout the court system and identified in a new provincial government report, also released Wednesday.

Along with shuffling ministerial responsibilities so Attorney General Shirley Bond can focus specifically on spearheading the judicial reforms, the province also appointed a review chairman – Geoffrey Cowper, Queen’s Counsel – to consult the various stakeholders and map out how to best address the top issues affecting public access.

The latest moves follow work done last summer to evaluate the growing pressures in the system, with the next step expected to include discussion over the coming months as Cowper prepares to make a final report and recommendations this coming July.

B.C. residents will have to wait and see what suggestions come out of this latest review, but taxpayers can rest assured that unless there is a call for a major restructuring in our system of delivering justice – from police on the streets all the way through the courts and into the prisons – we’ll continue to struggle with courtroom backlogs and criminals walking free on technicalities.

The situation is so bad right now, it’s entirely possible those instances will continue even with a major overhaul.

— Nanaimo News Bulletin