Editorial: The bench speaks

Judges are often loath to speak to reporters. 

The reasoning for this is simple — so very much can be lost, and very little gained, by engaging with the media. 

Rulings must often stand for themselves. This means there are few unscripted opportunities to glimpse into the minds of the judiciary.

That is why when the bench speaks, and speaks critically to power, reporters listen.

Chief Justice of Canada Beverley McLachlin made national news when she addressed the issue of judicial vacancies earlier this year, putting federal Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould on the hot seat. 

While many media outlets did not cover last week’s Opening of the Courts ceremony, Chief Justice of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice Heather Forster Smith also had some strong words.

“We urgently need the technology that can expedite the administrative and important steps in all areas of the court’s work,” said Smith.

She didn’t stop there, turning to the federal government.

“Respectfully, I must continue to press the minister of justice to fill our court’s current judicial vacancies, and to fill new vacancies promptly when they arise,” Smith said.

The full-court press is on.

There may be a note of hope on the horizon — with Attorney General Yasir Naqvi continuing to promise more efforts to digitize the courts, a sentiment he echoed at the ceremony. Chief Justice George Strathy, for one, appears to have hope.

“I know the attorney general and his staff at the ministry recognize this need and I express the hope that resources will be provided to address that,” he said.

The bench has spoken. Now two Liberal governments — federal and provincial — can show if they’re listening.

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