Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Ontario's Two-Tier Justice System Failing Many and Needs Reform

  That Ontario's justice system is facing serious challenges which brings untold daily
suffering  to many in our communities is a reality that demands a head-on non-political
response from our law and policy-makers. From its inception,  Ontario's justice system
has evolved from and remains a two-tier system - one for the powerful and one for the
powerless.  Compelling evidence of this two-tier system is reflected in the recent and
lamentable history in the legal profession to admit women and African-Canadians.
In both cases, our law and policy-makers had to take bold and affirmative legislative
action in order for women and African-Canadians to enjoy the right to practice law in

   It has been more than twenty years since our government received the Report of the
Commission on Systemic Racism in the Ontario Criminal Justice System and the
serious and pervasive inequality suffered by African-Canadians in Ontario's
criminal justice system has increased rather than abated.  What is wrong ?

   Reform of Ontario's human rights adjudication system promised to decrease delay
and bring about a fairer and more efficient system.  In the Ontario's government's
most recent round of consultations with "stake-holders" in the process the African-
Canadian Legal Clinic and others have been consistent in their lament that the
current system continues to fail the needs of complainants - African-Canadian or
otherwise.  What is wrong ?

   The job of fixing Ontario's two-tier justice system may be a challenging one but
it is not impossible.  It starts with political will and compassion.  The late great
former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, Mr. Justice Bora Laskin,
once said that "law without compassion is void."  I understand the late
Chief Justice to mean that the essence of law is that we must do onto others as
we would have them do onto us. It means that our application of law ought to
uplift the dignity of all of us rather than score political points while we trample
on the human dignity of our fellow brothers and sisters.

About the writer:

Ernest J. Guiste is a Catholic, African-Canadian rights litigation lawyer whose
practice of law and vision is influenced by the likes of the late Justice Thurgood
Marshall and civil rights lawyer, Charles Houston. Mr. Guiste represents clients
of limited means and others in criminal, human rights, administrative law and
high-handed wrongful dismissals and removal from statutory or public office.  





No comments:

Post a Comment