Jus­tice sum­mit heard from many groups

Par­sons, Innu both say meet­ing was in­for­ma­tive

The Labradorian - - EDITORIAL - BY EVAN CAREEN

A jus­tice sum­mit was held in Labrador re­cently and Jus­tice Min­is­ter An­drew Par­sons said it was in­for­ma­tive and well rep­re­sented.

“If you look at the col­lec­tion of peo­ple I’m will­ing to bet not very of­ten do you get the Supreme Court of Canada, Court of Ap­peal and Trial Divi­sion, the chiefs of those di­vi­sions, in­dige­nous gov­ern­ments, de­part­ment of jus­tice and all the front-line work­ers in one room hav­ing this chat,” he said. “I think we’ve made a good start.”

Par­sons said he heard a lot of dif­fer­ent ideas from the groups, in­clud­ing bet­ter com­mu­ni­ca­tion within the jus­tice sys­tem and re­ten­tion of court work­ers and lawyers. He said gov­ern­ment has to work smarter with the re­sources avail­able.

“Ev­ery­one is do­ing it in the con­text of we know that there’s no big pot of money to in­vest in jus­tice,” he said. “The de­part­ment has al­ways been un­der­funded and right now when you look at the fis­cal times that we have, there’s not go­ing to be a cheque cut to fix every­thing. We need to work with the means we have, in some cases it could just be the poli­cies we could change, the pro­ce­dures could be tweaked.”

With the high crime rates in Labrador, sim­i­lar to what are found in the ter­ri­to­ries and other north­ern ar­eas, Par­sons said it needs to be looked at as more than a jus­tice sys­tem is­sue.

“Jus­tice (Mal­colm) Rowe who was there from the Supreme Court ac­tu­ally dis­cussed that,” he said. “In his open­ing re­marks he talked about the higher pro­por­tion of crime here. It’s not just a jus­tice is­sue, this is an is­sue where we need to reach out­side and look at ed­u­ca­tion, look at health, there’s a role for ev­ery­one to play here. I can say I don’t know the so­lu­tion but I want to be part of it.”

So far these sum­mits have been held in two parts of the prov­ince and Par­sons says he wants to hold oth­ers in cen­tral and western New­found­land. Once they com­pile all the in­for­ma­tion a doc­u­ment called “What We Heard” will be re­leased to the pub­lic to view. He said it’s im­por­tant to hold these in dif­fer­ent parts of the prov­ince.

“The jus­tice sys­tem is sim­i­lar but ev­ery area has its own unique sit­u­a­tions that we have to dis­cusss,” he said. “What works in Labrador may not work in Stephenville and Grand Falls. I’d like to think it was pro­duc­tive. But the trick to this is you can’t just go have a meet­ing and get some in­for­ma­tion or data and put it on a shelf. Peo­ple want to see re­sults.” Restora­tive jus­tice

Gregory Rich, Grand Chief of the Innu Na­tion, was one of those in at­ten­dance at the sum­mit and said he found it was in­for­ma­tive.

“All the re­sources in the jus­tice sys­tem were there, judges, lawyers, le­gal aid, vic­tims ser­vices and so on,” he said. “A lot of in­for­ma­tion was heard by the Innu, there was a lot on the ta­ble.”

Rich said for the Innu, one of the big­gest is­sues is restora­tive jus­tice, which is an ap­proach to jus­tice that per­son­al­izes the crime by hav­ing the vic­tims and the of­fend­ers me­di­ate a resti­tu­tion agree­ment to the sat­is­fac­tion of each, as well as in­volv­ing the com­mu­nity.

He said for them a restora­tive jus­tice sys­tem would make more sense and help in­te­grate of­fend­ers back into the com­mu­nity. Rich said more pro­gram­ming at the pro­vin­cial level would also help with this is­sue. Cur­rently in­mates at fed­eral prison fa­cil­i­ties have ac­cess to many pro­gram­ming op­tions, in­clud­ing re­cov­ery and ed­u­ca­tion. Those ser­vices are not avail­able in the same scope in a pro­vin­cial prison.

“A lot of the in­mates have been go­ing back and forth to the cor­rec­tional fa­cil­ity, they re­peat the crimes and come back and re­peat the crimes. I think the rea­son they do that is there is no pro­grams avail­able in those fa­cil­i­ties,” he said. “New­found­land should look at that, it’s not work­ing. One would be de­vel­op­ing a treat­ment pro­gram for the in­mates, I think that kind of pro­gram set up in and out of the fa­cil­ity would help the in­mates as well.”

An­other is­sue the Innu brought to the ta­ble was ac­ces­si­bil­ity of the courts, specif­i­cally for the peo­pleof She­shat­shiu. Rich said some of the peo­ple that are sup­posed to ap­pear in court have a hard time find­ing a ride to Happy Val­ley-Goose Bay, which is about 35 km.

“It costs like $70-75 to get there in a taxi and that can add up quickly. If you miss your court date there’s a war­rant and then it costs you more money to go back to court again. It isn’t help­ing any­one. We need a court back in She­shat­shiu.”

Rich said he was glad they got their mes­sage out and he feels the meet­ing was ben­e­fi­cial. Now he hopes they’ll see re­sults at the end of the day.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.