EDITORIAL: Courtroom broadcast

Like many politicians, Premier Christy Clark has never met a TV camera she didn’t like.

Like many politicians, Premier Christy Clark has never met a TV camera she didn’t like.

She took her zeal for the lens to new levels when she suggested during last week’s throne speech that television cameras should be allowed into courtrooms during the trials of those charged in the Stanley Cup riots.

Clark said since they had no problem doing their crimes before the cameras, they would have no problem with their trials being in front of cameras, a statement that had some wondering if she hadn’t already convicted them before their day in court.

Naturally, the New Democrats jumped on her suggestion. Burnaby-Deer Lake MLA Kathy Corrigan, the party’s public safety critic, called Riot TV a gimmick.

The premier insisted her suggestion wasn’t a political stunt because opening up the courts is part of opening up government.

That may be the case, but her suggestion is arbitrary. If courtrooms are to be open to television cameras, is this not a change that should be debated in the legislature and other public forums?

Cameras in the courtroom would constitute a major shift in justice policy in this country. The United States has allowed them for decades. There are many who believe it’s been a good thing because it’s made the justice system accountable. Others believe the cameras bring an artificially high level of melodrama that subverts the justice process.

Theoretical logic aside, there is also the financial cost such a system would impose on a government already strapped to pay for basics like health, education and enough judges to keep the court system moving.

Prosecuting the rioters is a hot button topic in these parts, and Clark recognizes that.

However, her suggestion smacks of attempting to endear herself to the electorate without carrying out the proper process to make the change.

– Black Press

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