Danielle In QP, November 8: Justice System Review

Ms Smith: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. We’ve seen the government avoid a number of crucial issues, from illegal political donations to out-of-control executive expenses and now the most serious matter of child abuse and sexual assaults. The Premier has refused to talk about it in the Assembly. The Justice minister then brushed it off as an isolated incident, yet the Justice department itself now admits that there are multiple cases of stayed prosecutions, which means sexual predators are at large in our communities. Why won’t the Premier and the minister order an independent, impartial investigation to prevent more victims from being denied justice?

Ms Redford: The information that came before the House last Thursday was tremendously serious, very important, and needs to be looked into. It’s very important that we ensure that justice is obtained in every case that we have before the courts in Alberta.

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Justice and I along with the Minister of Human Services this morning were at a Breakfast with the Guys event with 500 people in Edmonton who are all fully aware that there are very difficult and tragic circumstances affecting victims of domestic abuse and child sexual abuse in this province. We take that seriously, we work through our programs with our ministers to ensure that happens, and we will ensure that this issue is dealt with appropriately in the justice system.

The Speaker: Thank you.

Ms Smith: Mr. Speaker, the department investigating itself is not the answer, and the investigation needs to go far beyond this case of the little girl in Airdrie who was repeatedly abused and never saw her abuser face trial because of delays. There are many such cases. In fact, judges are warning us that something is terribly wrong. One ruling said that the court cannot simply accede to the government’s allocation of resources and tailor the period of permissible delay. When will the government admit that it’s allocation of resources is failing Albertans?

Ms Redford: Mr. Speaker, we know that in our justice system the Crown prosecutors, more Crown prosecutors than five years ago when our safe communities program started, are doing their work every single day to ensure that people are brought to justice. The strength of a justice system is that we ensure that there are rules in place. That is part of what we need to deal with with respect to this issue. It is not helpful to have people making political hay of the fact that there are victims suffering in this province. We need to ensure that we are healing victims, protecting victims, and preventing people from becoming victims as well as strengthening the justice system, and that is what we are doing.

The Speaker: Thank you.

Ms Smith: Mr. Speaker, we need to make sure that justice is served, and we think this matter of funding is critical for the administration of justice in our province. Either there are too few resources or the allocation of those resources is seriously flawed, and the consequences are horrific. The investigation of this matter by the department itself is not adequate. We don’t understand.

Why won’t they simply order an independent investigation so we can get to the bottom of it and fix it?

Ms Redford: Mr. Speaker, every day in the justice system we have professionals that are working to deal with these issues. These are the professionals that run our system, including the assistant deputy minister of public prosecutions. It is entirely appropriate for us to ask our professional public servants to ensure that the circumstances in every court in this province are exactly what they should be, and that is what we are doing today.