Justice Denied

March 14, 2017

A growing number of judicial vacancies are contributing to an even greater number of serious criminal cases being thrown out of court. This is a crisis that requires swift action from the Liberal Government, but instead we’ve seen months of inaction only serving to worsen the situation.

Currently, there are 60 vacancies for federally appointed judges across the country. Since the Supreme Court of Canada’s 2016 ruling in R. v. Jordan, lawyers have sought to suspend more than 800 criminal cases for unreasonable delay. More than a dozen murder, attempted murder, and manslaughter cases are included in this number. Other serious offences such as sexual assault and drug trafficking are going unpunished as well.

During their first year in government, the Liberals appointed only 34 Superior Court judges. The previous year, our Conservative Government made 96 appointments to the Superior Court. Filling vacancies in a timely manner ensured that criminal cases, especially the most serious cases, were properly addressed by the courts. So why are the Liberals waiting?

The answer, it seems, is that the Minister of Justice, Jody Wilson-Raybould, is not taking this seriously. She waited until June, eight months into her job, before filling a handful of vacancies. Since that time, she has not made any appointments. This resulted in serious criminal cases being thrown out due to delay and thousands more cases across Canada could be tossed out while she continues to do nothing. She needs to go beyond words and actually appoint judges.

Our previous Conservative Government believed that criminals, not their victims, should be punished for their crimes. As long as the Liberal Government neglects its responsibility to fill these vacancies, criminals will be back on our streets free to offend again, re-victimizing those who’ve already suffered much at the hands of criminals. This is unacceptable. The Minister of Justice owes it to victims of crime, and indeed all Canadians, to act now and fill the vacancies.