Justice delayed is justice denied. Throughout the Harper years, the federal government worked very hard to delay justice. Its first assault on Justice was to shut down the Court Challenges program, because -- the Harperites claimed -- it was too expensive. The fallout from that decision was that only those with deep pockets could afford to take the federal government to court.
That was because, in every challenge to the federal government, its lawyers employed delaying tactics. Take the case of compensation for the survivors of residential schools. Jeff Sallot writes:
There are scores of examples of government lawyers dragging their feet in an effort to outlast the plaintiffs, lawyers for the indigenous people recently told The Globe and Mail’s Sean Fine. The Harper government, for example, refused to allow old federal documents, including cabinet orders, to be used as evidence unless the plaintiffs could produce a witness to explain the documents.
How’s that supposed to work? Have you ever tried to subpoena a dead cabinet minister? Most of the authors of those orders are dead; those that aren’t probably could not recall anything more than what the documents say, lawyers for the plaintiffs argued. They recently won this legal point — but not until after a long legal battle ate up more time.
And there is the case of three Muslim men who are suing the government for what happened to them in Syria -- and for the role the federal government played in their treatment there:
The men were never charged with any crime. They were merely collateral damage in the terrorism scare after the 9/11 attacks.
A judicial inquiry, headed by former Supreme Court justice Frank Iacobucci, determined that information provided by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service led to their arrests in Damascus. But the inquiry did not have authority to order compensation for the men. So, they continue their fight in lawsuits that have dragged on now for years.
Justin Trudeau has tasked his Justice Minister, Jody Wilson-Raybould, with restoring the Court Challenges program and with undoing the damage the Harperites have done.
That is no small task.