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Crown attorneys want to form a union, but NDP government presents a hurdle

Alberta’s Crown prosecutors want to unionize, but face hurdles to their bid, including the wording of provincial legislation and opposition from the NDP government.

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Publication date : 2018-08-17
Ford opposes handgun ban as he pledges funds to fight gun violence

Ontario Premier Doug Ford says he opposes a handgun ban in Toronto because it would penalize legal gun owners, but vowed to help tackle gun violence in the city by pledging $25-million over four years for police and the courts.

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Publication date : 2018-08-09
‘Pressure points’: Five new provincial court judges hired to help ease backlogs

The province named five judges in northern and central Alberta Tuesday in a move aimed at helping to relieve strain on the court system, says Alberta’s justice minister.

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Publication date : 2018-07-31
Long waits for RCMP firearms forensics putting prosecutions at risk

Staffing shortages saw routine firearms analysis requests take an average of 238 days in 2017-18

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Publication date : 2018-07-26
Federal lawyers’ union says low pay contributing to ‘crisis’ in hiring, retention, court delays

The union leader representing 2,600 federal government lawyers says Ottawa’s persistent failure to pay competitive compensation is contributing to lacklustre lawyer recruitment, and severe staff shortages in major cities across the country — as well as to court delays and criminal charges being stayed for violating the Supreme Court’s speedy trial deadlines.

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Publication date : 2018-04-26
NDP’s rural crime fighting plan gets mixed reviews

The NDP’s $10-million plan to combat rural crime with new RCMP officers, more Crown prosecutors and improved intelligence gathering is getting mixed reviews from a rural county reeve, a lawyers’ group and an opposition politician. 

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Publication date : 2018-03-12

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‘A very big concern,’ says Alberta justice minister of stayed charges due to staff shortage



Alberta Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley says she expects additional cash for her department will be coming in this month's provincial budget. (CBC)


The provincial government intends to pump more money into the justice system to ensure long-delayed court cases do not continue to be dropped.


A lack of resources was behind 15 cases being dropped earlier this week, including the case of an Edmonton parking enforcer who says he was assaulted with a crowbar and a box-cutter.


"We are very concerned about this. We take the matter very seriously," said Alberta's Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley on Friday.


"We will have more to say about additional resources, both for courts and for Crown prosecutors, after our budgeting process is complete."


Ganley says she expects additional cash for her department will be coming in this month's provincial budget. She's not happy that 15 cases had to be dropped, even if that's a fraction of the 32,000 currently in the provincial court system.


More charges could soon be stayed

"We never want to see a victim find themselves in a position where they have to go without justice as a result of a procedural requirement and so that's a very big concern for us and we have been working on a number of methods to address it."


Still, she's already warning that for a variety of reasons, including unduly long delays in getting some matters to trial, more charges could soon be stayed.


Prosecutors have been told to concentrate on cases with a high chance of conviction, matters deemed to be in the public interest and those cases involving violence, she said.


Call for 50 more Crown prosecutors

Alberta's Crown prosecutors are optimistic the next budget will include more money for the justice system.


"We've mentioned to the minister 50 new positions. We're happy if those are broken up over a gradual time period over the next few years, but a response is needed. We do recognize there's fiscal constraints though and we're trying to operate within that and be fair and reasonable," said Alberta Crown Attorney's Association president James Pickard.


Approximately 200 significant criminal cases have been stayed in the last two months due to lack of resources, including impaired driving, assault, fraud, and theft charges, he said.


"We're concerned that victims will start to become a bit disillusioned with the justice system and frustrated, which would be understandable. And also the police officers who are working hard, investigating files that are just being abandoned by prosecutors, not because of an issue with the investigation or the case, but simply because of a budgetary constraint."


Ganley says she's also working with the federal government to appoint more justices to the Court of Queen's Bench.