Chief justice of B.C. Supreme Court says judicial system "threatened, if not in peril"
One of B.C's. top judges believes the province's court system is being "slowly eroded by a lack of funding".
Now, Chief Justice Robert J. Bauman of the Supreme Court of B.C. has spoken out on the issue.
According to the judge's prepared remarks for his address to the November 19 meeting of the Canadian Bar Association's B.C. branch—held in Las Vegas—Bauman asked lawyers to help him defend a court system that's "going over the cliff in slow motion".
Here's how his speech began:
Our judicial system is one of the best in the world. But it is threatened, if not in peril.
In nature, the process of erosion takes time- sometimes its pace and impacts are barely perceptible.
Then comes a tipping point when that gradual, insidious process of incremental damage yields its dramatic finish -- the structure is diminished and collapses.
The stability and integrity of our courts and judicial system are being slowly eroded by a lack of funding.
Inadequate funding of courts in British Columbia has been the reality for the last number of years.
We are not at the tipping point yet- but we are steadily edging towards it.
I appreciate that the legislative and executive branches of government have an exceedingly difficult task in balancing the demands on the public purse.
And I respect the fact that there are many competing demands. I also respect the fact that the Court Services Branch, led by the Deputy Attorney General and the Assistant Deputy Minister of Court Services are doing the best they can in our challenging economic environment. But I question whether we have the full attention of the Treasury Board.
As Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, it is my role to protect the institution of the court. And so today, I want to encourage you to reflect on how critical and integral our courts are to the functioning of our democratic society.
I ask you to think about the harm that flows from diminishing the court’s effectiveness through underfunding.
I urge you to consider and speak out to your constituencies concerning the critical importance of this issue, and, as members of the Bar, to take whatever steps you can to defend and protect our judicial system.
Bauman closed his address by urging the lawyers in attendance to "Bring this issue to the attention of our fellow citizens".