Studying COVID’s Impact on the Judicial System | Apr. 27, 2021

I am a permanent member of the Standing Committee on Justice & Human Rights. This past week, the committee began a study on the impact of COVID-19 on the justice system. I have spoken to many local community agencies that assist victims of crime who have identified the new delay in trials as a serious problem.

Our Courts, like our businesses, charities, community groups and churches, have been forced to change how they operate due to the provincial lockdowns. The committee will examine what impact these changes have had on the lives of the real people who seek justice before the courts. As has been said, “justice delayed is justice denied”.

This past Thursday I had the opportunity to question two of the witnesses who appeared before the committee. I used the example of some poorly conceived COVID-specific legislation I’m familiar with: COVID border policy, as an example of potential backlog due to Covid. Here’s an excerpt from that exchange.

“People are coming across our borders [saying] I’m not going to quarantine, just give me that fine. It’s going to be an extreme amount of backlog with regard to what the courts are going to face here because people quite frankly are not going to pay it.” I asked the witnesses “to comment on really where this is going to go? Are the courts just going to throw these cases out?”

One witness had his own agenda unrelated to Covid – calling for an overhaul of the justice system and for the removal or reduction of mandatory sentencing for crimes like drug trafficking, weapons trafficking, and impaired driving. He was dismissive of my Covid-related questions, saying “if you can find [four people who skipped quarantine for the fine] I would be amazed.”

So far CTV is reporting over 400. (see link to article below).

I look forward to considering the testimony of all the witnesses at the end of our study. The committee’s objective is to develop reliable information on COVID’s impact on the justice system so that it can be used to inform new government legislation as well as keep the Liberal Government accountable for its decisions and actions.

Considering Trudeau’s track record with the budget, border, vaccine roll-out, ethics violations, over-reach of MAID and now C-10, we will be using this study to hold the Liberal Government to account.

Chris Lewis MP - Essex

Constituency Office

Ottawa Office