Upon receiving notice that the Governor-General’s Advisory Council was reviewing his membership in the Order of Canada, Lord Black sought an opportunity to make oral submissions to the Council, a suggestion rebuffed by them. His attempt to obtain a court order from the Federal Court also failed when they ruled that the removal process only permitted written submissions.
Mr. Black filed an appeal to the Federal Court of Appeal and brought a motion asking the Appeal Court to expedite his appeal hearing, however, he ran into a roadblock when the Court refused to move his case to the front of the line.
The expression “justice for all” comes to mind, or in this case, the delay in Canada’s justice system is an annoyance that does not differentiate between rich or poor, high-profile case or minor nuisance, or expensive lawyer or legal aid.
What it does underscore, however, is the frustration of litigants who wait not months, but years, to access what is reputedly one of the world’s leading justice systems, and everyone is complaining.
Chief Justice Beverly McLachlin, who also happens to Chair the ten-member Advisory Council,in a recent speech at the Empire Club in Toronto, identified “delay” as one of the greatest challenges to our court system. She noted that murder trials that used to occupy five to seven days of court time, now take five to seven months and quoted statistics that an average trial in Vancouver in 1996 took 12.9 hours and only six years later, required an average of 25.7 hours to complete.
Mr. Black is waiting for a date in the Federal Court, a system that is bogged down by thousands of immigration cases and no wonder, when you consider cases like Parminder Singh Saini, a convicted hijacker who entered Canada using a false name and then tied up the Federal Court system for fifteen years in his attempts to avoid deportation.
Meanwhile, Ashley Smith, the young woman who died in prison custody and is now the subject of a coroner’s inquest in Toronto, filed a grievance with the Federal Court, who has jurisdiction over prisons and inmates, that was only opened two months after her death.
So now Conrad Black is at the back of the 12 to 18 month line-up that plagues not just the Federal Court but Provincial and Superior Courts across Canada.
Welcome to the world of single mothers waiting for child support hearings; wrongfully dismissed employees longing for recompense for lost wages; car accident victims who desperately wait for their damage awards and tens of thousands of others who still want to believe that Canada has the finest justice system in the world.
Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang