Paul Russell | 22/05/12
Last week, letters editor Paul Russell asked readers to tell us, in 75 words or less, if they still have faith in our courts and police. The vast majority of readers said no.
Various reasons offered for this lack of confidence
Vancouver rioters, “Occupy” protesters, “not criminally responsible” murderer Vincent Li and deceitful police thugs in Vancouver (in the case of Robert Dziekanski) all got away with wrongdoing. Contrast their guilt with the innocence of harassed pastor Artur Pawlowski, censored and detained pro-life activists at universities nation-wide, and parents fighting to protect their children from corrupt family court and unaccountable child “protection” industry agents. If justice means to minimize the actions of the guilty and condemn the innocent, Canada certainly qualifies.
Brian de Vries, Calgary.
On the day the Post first asked its readers whether Canada’s justice system is working, the paper reported that “Crown prosecutors do not oppose letting a man who beheaded a fellow passenger on a Greyhound bus” take escorted day trips. Some shrink figures a lunatic with a predilection for Trans-Can decapitation is rehabbed and, four years on, he’s good to stroll our streets. Our “justice system” is the preserve of a leftist elite that cast off common sense back in Sociology 101.
Gary McGregor, Ladner, B.C.
A few years ago, my son, in an unprovoked attack, was shot through the face with an arrow from a compound bow. The perpetrator was put on trial but found not guilty because of insanity. After several years, over my son’s protestations, this man was let out of the institutions he was in, a free man, only to be prosecuted for attempted murder in another province. There is need for change to protect the public.
Julia Serup, Prince George, BC
No. A big flaw in Ontario is the divide-and-conquer strategy used to attenuate accountability. A lawyer’s practice is governed by their colleagues through the Law Society of Upper Canada, but their fees are governed by the courts: basically, two customer service desks where there should be one.
Kirk Zurell, Waterloo, Ont.
I have no confidence in a “judge system” where law is personally “interpreted” not applied and the Charter is used to defend subjective decisions. Example — three levels of court, three differing decisions. Add the concurrent sentences silliness, early release, reduced sentences and we have a unjust bleeding heart ideology driven system – not a justice system. Whatever happened to: “The whole truth and nothing but …”
Brian Rushfeldt, president, Canada Family Action, Calgary.
A police officer in the Michael Rafferty case said: “Now that he’s been convicted, he doesn’t matter any more.” When the judge described him as a “monster,” the public lapped it up. The Correctional Service of Canada’s mandate is to strike a “fair balance” between public safety and rehabilitation. Until the government holds them to account, the successful reintegration of the 6,000 federal inmates released annually will remain a pipe dream.
Joan McEwen, Vancouver.
Even though such terms as “evil” and “monster” have been used, Michael Rafferty’s entitlements will continue, as does the taxpayers’ pledge to support him. In earlier times, such ambiguity would have been unlikely, as societies would have had neither the means, nor the will, to sustain him. That we have a more expensive system, is certainly true; whether it is better, remains to be seen.
Gordon Watson, Rocky Mountain House, Alta.
The basic integrity of our police and justice departments has been contaminated by the demands of political correctness. When statistics are withheld to protect certain segments of society and judgment is softened for the same reason then justice is no longer blind. So it is not surprising when those whom we trust to protect us begin to show an indifference to truth and become part of the problem.
Betty L. Reade, Oakville, Ont.
It always seems to feel that our justice system is working when a big “feel good” prosecution happens. But they do not happen as much as they should. Thanks to the Conservatives’s omnibus crime bill, things should start to have a positive feeling already. The only roadblock now is the Supreme Court.
Alistair Mckay, Thornhill, Ont.
A police chief once said to me that the reason so many youngsters are in trouble with the police is that they have never heard the words: “You can’t do that.” Many children no longer are given guidance. There is little discipline in the schools. The staff have no defence. Everything must be easy, everything must be fun. Young people have this overriding sense of entitlement. Older folk predicted the result but the experts knew better. Now none knows how to deal with it.
M. Penny, Mississauga, Ont.
The police are the authoritative hand of government. Honour within this line of work has been dissolved by the base ignorance of an afflicted peoples. They no longer work to serve the people; they now work to serve the oligarchy of international financers. The courts, in co-operation, have subjected us all.
Lawrance Nelder, Barrie, Ont.
The courts have lost their way …
I have faith in the police but little in the courts. Nine years ago I was almost killed by a criminally insane man. Found not criminally responsible for what he did, he was given an absolute discharge less than three years later and the next year was charged with attempting to kill someone in Ontario. Many judges and review board members evidently have little regard for public safety and this needs to change.
Paul Serup, Prince George, B.C.
The justice system in Canada is defective. How is that child-killers and a man who beheaded an innocent passenger on a bus are not criminally responsible for their dastardly deeds? Their verdicts should be reviewed and overturned. Jail time is the only verdict for these two cases. There is obviously a flaw in the justice system and a thorough review and revamp of the criminal courts should be done without delay. We should uphold the law at all times.
Alex Sotto, Montreal.
When child abusers are inconvenienced with a mere three months in prison; when hit-and-run murderers have to endure the indignity of conditional sentences and house arrest; when the punishment of habitual offenders is measured not in terms of their crimes but in terms of the criminal being regarded as the “real victim” of societal neglect; when the rights of criminals trump the fate of their victims. “Is our justice system working?” You bet it is — with longer suspended sentences.
E.W. Bopp, Tsawwassen, B.C.
I am reasonably confident in the police; however the courts are another matter. The legal profession is largely made up of people who have gone through extremely liberal Canadian post-secondary institutions over the last thirty years or so. Taking pseudo-scientific fashionable courses like sociology, criminology, and psychology, courts rarely understand or even use the basic term “punishment.” Sadly, protection of the public is almost always a lower priority than the attempted rehabilitation of offenders.
Jeffrey Hay, Delta, B.C.
Is having to wait for eight years to have a simple breach of contract case heard considered acceptable? Two trials have been deferred because “no judge was available.” Whatever happened to the idea that “justice delayed is justice denied,” a concept clearly of neither import, nor consequence, in British Columbia.
Helga Hamilton, South Surrey, B.C.
Canada has a legal system but no justice and the problem is not with the police but with our courts and the parole board. Criminals rights are considered and valued while the victims are not given the same consideration. Courts regularly slap the wrists of offenders proving that crime does pay. Legislate punishment that fits the crime and remove much of the discretionary decisions from judges. It is time to reconsider the death penalty.
D. Smith, Edmonton.
The police have squandered the public’s trust
The courts are transparent and subject to the people’s will via elective representation. No one’s perfect but yes, I trust the courts to provide justice. Police should not be the providers of justice. Their function is to keep the peace and uphold the law of the land. At the G20 they suppressed peaceful protest and broke the law of the land. They took their badges off — justice be damned. No, I don’t trust them at all.
David J. Baughn, Toronto.
I have faith in the courts. It’s a big, clunky system and not perfect, but by and large it does all right. However, I have no faith in the police. They are rarely punished for breaking the law, such as the death of the Polish man at Vancouver airport, dumping native kids off to freeze in Saskatchewan and the G20 debacle in Toronto. The list goes on. I have no trust in them at all.
Perry Miller, Innisfail, Alta.
Courts and police are there to uphold the laws and to be seen to do so consistently and fairly. Lack of political backbone in Canada ensures that the law will continue to favour the criminal and lack representation of the people’s voice. The courts stand no chance. In general the police are lazily cruising the streets and milking their favourite cash cows, rather than having a presence walking a beat. The future looks bleak indeed.
Onno van Santen, Kitchener, Ont.
Toronto cops are tops. Or they used to be. Most of us once supported them. Things have changed over the last decade with a different mindset and a hard nose approach to policing. At the G20, close to 1,000 people were held in dreadful conditions, without charge and without the right to legal counsel. They will never forget the day their rights were violated by the police and the justice system along with the thousands like me who witnessed it on television.
David Burt, Toronto.
In Caledonia, Ont., the provincial police turn a blind eye to violence against persons and property, the RCMP taser a Polish man to death in Vancouver and pronounce that the man was armed with what they thought was a deadly weapon (a stapler), Quebec students continue to break the law as police and teachers union representatives take a hands-off approach. Why are you even asking the question?
Bob McQaig, St. Thomas, Ont.
It’s the fault of politicians
Poor legislation results in poor court decisions. Often the judges’ hands are tied by the sloppy legislation; the fault lies with the politicians that Canadians continue to elect to parliament. Judges merely follow what the legislation has provided; sometimes the results are not in keeping with the public’s wishes. It is time for Canadians to elect competent politicians. And electing judges is not the answer — just look south to see the mess such a system brings to the people.
Bob Orrick, Richmond, B.C.
Our justice system is as good as the well-educated judges and lawyers who administer it, with minimal interference from doctrinaire politicians. The Conservatives must stop pushing through bad legislation whose unstated purpose is to hamstring judges and lawyers, whom they wrongfully mistrust. Instead of pushing around the RCMP, whose job Public Safety Minister Vic Toews is making much more dangerous, he and the Conservative party should be thoroughly investigated by them.
Ron Charach, Toronto.
We have some faith in our justice system
Our legal and police systems are working well. Unfortunately, there are problems. The Supreme Court misinterprets the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms by applying a very liberal interpretation to the statute. Similarly the lower courts are so lenient when applying penalties to criminals, illegal protestors, and the young that the work of the police and the protection of society sometimes is virtually ignored. So I have faith, but would like to have more faith.
Jonathan Usher, Toronto.
We still have a good and relatively fair justice system, but is that justification for the police and Crown prosecutors to run wild in the quest of winning cases, instead of searching for the truth. From the G20 fiasco to the persecution of Conrad Black to the many innocent people who are incarcerated in our prisons, there is one common trait that put them there; the powers that be, couldn’t handle the truth or did not want to.
T. Needer, Thornhill, Ont.
I think our justice system is working well the way we use it. People need to know more about our courts and how to resolve cases, as every level of court is different. I think we are doing well because of we are fair with our statues, acts and regulations.
Hunyah Irfan, Toronto.
Our justice system needs some re-examination in certain areas, but that doesn’t mean it’s failing us. In most countries, the rule of law is only theory, leaving corruption unchecked. Ultimately, Canada is the best country in the world because of the just rule it provides for everyone. I can testify that many members from the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community alone have come here from Pakistan, fleeing from state-sanctioned persecution in their homeland.
Ahmed Sahi, Stoney Creek, Ont.