News / Canada

Parti Quebecois urges Quebec government to act on trial delay crisis

QUEBEC — The Parti Quebecois is urging the Quebec government to act quickly to address the problem of lengthy trial delays.

Justice critic Veronique Hivon says the crisis in Quebec's judicial system is unprecedented and she is urging Justice Minister Stephanie Vallee to adopt measures and pump resources into the system to help speed up cases and get them to trial.

The Supreme Court of Canada ruled last July in what is known as the Jordan decision that set out 18 months as a reasonable delay for provincial court trial and 30 months for cases before the superior court.

Hivon suggests that hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people charged with serious crimes such as fraud and even sexual assault will gain their freedom because the judicial system was unable to treat their cases under the prescribed deadlines set out by Canada's highest court.

She says there have been at least 150 requests for a stay of proceedings since the Jordan decision.

Hivon says Quebec shouldn't exclude any scenario, even invoking the notwithstanding clause in the Canadian Constitution that would allow it to override the Supreme Court decision.

She says Quebec needs to increase the number of prosecutors and clerks as well as recall retired judges and fill currently vacant judicial positions.

"We must stop the hemorrhage of resources," Hivon told a news conference on Monday.