Justice is for sale. This was the message Monday from Attorney-General Shirley Bond.
The most systemic problem facing B.C.’s justice system is that governments continue to use “access to justice” as a political catchphrase in order to advance ideological agendas.
According to the White Paper on Justice Reform, we need to find a new way of co-ordinating the system. We need to create an annual plan which attaches “targets” to the justice system.
We need to create ways of collecting data so that we can see “measurable improvements.” We need to find a way to keep a lot of cases from going to court by diverting those that aren’t worthy into mediation.
The clear intention of the B.C. Liberal government is to apply a business-model concept to justice, and in the interests of serving business-minded “efficiency,” download the costs of justice to the
private sphere, effectively privatizing justice.
This is not good for justice. Justice is not a commodity to which one can measure in dollars and seconds.
The failure of people to resolve their disputes privately is what gave birth to court systems. Courts and a publicly funded justice system serve a fundamental principle — people can have their disputes resolved by an independent and impartial judiciary.
Justice is a fundamental principle of democracy. In the words of Chief Justice Beverly McLachlin, it is “a basic right” in this country, and we have failed to provide equal access to that system.
It is the government’s obligation to facilitate that right equally. By creating a framework that ensures “unworthy cases” stay out of the courts, this government is breaking the social contract.