The Supreme Court of Canada’s Jordan case has caused ripples through our criminal justice system. The effect of the case has been to set rigid guidelines for trial within a reasonable time. If they’re not met, the accused is cut loose and charges are stayed.
In Ontario alone, it means that 11,000 criminal cases are at risk of being tossed. Already first-degree murder cases, robberies and sexual assault cases have been thrown out of court. And it’s only the beginning.
It’s not the first time that the SCC has sent a wake-up call to actors in our judicial system to take their constitutional obligations more seriously. In the early 1990s, the SCC’s Askov decision produced similar results.
Ontario Attorney General Yasir Naqvi sounded like a deer caught in the headlights when he attacked the SCC for acting as if they were changing the rules of a hockey game “in the third period.” This is nothing but bluster and a smokescreen to cover up his ineptitude and neglect of our legal system.
A wide range of solutions are being looked at from getting rid of the largely outdated preliminary inquiry to throwing more money at the problem: Hiring more Crowns, appointing more judges and building more courthouses.
I have another solution. Let’s get back to the basics. Criminal court is not a vehicle for social engineering and political correctness. Criminal law is meant as society’s sledgehammer to go after and denounce the worst conduct. After all, a convicted person is known as a “criminal” with all the associated stigma and faces imprisonment for life in some cases.