The BCCCA was invited to appear before the Committee as they wanted to hear our views on the subject of court delays. An interim report had been released entitled Delaying Justice is Denying Justice: An Urgent Need to Address Lengthy Court Delays in Canada. That report informed the BCCCA of the relevant topics that the Committee was interested in hearing on as well as correspondence sent from the Committee Clerk. I also corresponded with Rick Woodburn, President of the CACC as he and the President of the OCAA had appeared before the Committee in Toronto. I spoke to Eric Gottardi who was appearing as well to find out what defence counsel would be talking about. I also contacted Joyce DeWitt-Van Oosten to let the Branch know that the BCCCA was appearing. The appearance was September 27, 2016.
We were allowed a five minute opening statement. I thanked the Committee for inviting us, told them about our organization, and delineated that I was there on behalf of the BCCCA and not as a representative of the Criminal Justice Branch. I acknowledged that we understand our role and our constitutional obligation in ensuring that criminal matters proceed in a timely way. I brought forward four areas that cause our members concern, and if addressed, would alleviate some of the causes of delay: 1) lack of effective and efficient technology in our offices and courtrooms, 2) appropriate staffing levels of Crown Counsel to meet the growing demand for our services, 3) adequate Legal Aid funding, and 4) lack of court time. I emphasized that these are only four aspects out of many.
The Committee was very interested to hear from Crown and I answered questions from them relating to delay causes and potential fixes. There were three other panelists at the same time as the BCCCA and they included Adam Palmer, Chief Constable of the Vancouver Police Department, Sam MacLeod, Superintendent of Motor Vehicles and Geoffrey Cowper, the Chair of the BC Justice Reform Initiatives. Interesting perspectives were advanced from each of them.
I encourage everyone to read the interim report which I attach.