Danielle In QP, November 6: Justice System Review

 
Ms Smith: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It seems everything this government does needs to be investigated. The latest investigation required is because of a botched prosecution of a child abuser. He is free because of an overworked, understaffed Crown prosecutor’s office – at least, that’s what a lot of people are saying – but the Premier denies it. That’s why we need a immediate, impartial, independent review rather than having her former department investigate itself. As the Premier pointed out yesterday, I’m no lawyer, but isn’t it obvious to the Premier that you won’t get the best result if the department investigates itself?

The Speaker: The hon. Minister of Justice and Solicitor General.

Mr. Denis: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Like this member, I, too, was saddened by the recent events, and that’s why I ordered an investigation into this matter last Thursday. Over the next two months if the investigation actually turns out that we require an outside prosecutor, an outside individual to come in, the investigation will indicate that. I have full confidence in this institution and also in the independence of the judiciary.

The Speaker: The hon. member.

Ms Smith: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. That’s progress, but it’s not enough. Once again we get different information in the Assembly than we do in the newspaper. The government insists that an internal departmental review is enough, but her office staff are now saying that they may need to go deeper. We agree that an investigation into multiple cases of botched prosecutions needs to be done properly, completely, and independently. Now, I’m no lawyer, so maybe the Premier can explain why it is that she is opposed to having an independent, impartial review now?

The Speaker: The hon. minister.

Mr. Denis: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. As I indicated in my previous answer, I have every confidence in the current investigation, and if we have to bring in any outside parties, that investigation will indicate such.

It’s more important to note that justice is not just about justice. It’s also about healing. Over the last five years our civil forfeiture office has put in $1.8 million of funding for victims, and I will proudly continue this regardless of the outcome of the investigation.

The Speaker: The hon. opposition leader.

Ms Smith: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Here in Edmonton we hear as well that it took 10 years to deal with the case of a police officer charged with using excessive force. His punishment was mitigated because of delays attributed to the Crown. Now, I’m no lawyer, but isn’t it obvious to the Premier that there is something wrong that warrants an immediate independent, impartial investigation now?

The Speaker: The hon. minister.

Mr. Denis: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. That is exactly, again, what we are doing. It is an immediate impartial investigation, and if there are outside parties that we have to bring in, that investigation will identify it. At the same time it saddens me, the lack of faith that some people in this Chamber have about our judicial system. I have full confidence in this review. Let’s get to the bottom of it because one case – one case – is too many.

Ms Smith: Actually, we’ve now mentioned three cases, Mr. Speaker.