EDITORIAL: Unacceptable delays

It was easy to see first-hand the misery that is caused by B.C.’s backlogged court system, with two cases in Abbotsford last week.

It was easy to see first-hand the misery that is caused by B.C.’s backlogged court system, with two cases in Abbotsford last week.

Black Press and the Abbotsford News chronicled the problems with the court system in a series titled “Justice Denied” earlier this year.

They are illustrated this week in the case of Derek Hoare, whose nine-year-old autistic daughter Ayn was seized by the Ministry of Children and Family Development on June 16. On July 12 he finally got a court hearing on the matter, but only to state that he does not give consent for his daughter to be in ministry care. Later, he will get the opportunity to make his case to have her returned. The earliest opportunity will be September.

So this grieving father, who has learned that his daughter cried for the first 18 days she missed him and is now in a foster home, is forced to wait at least three months before he gets his day in court. Even then, the process is likely to drag on.

It is outrageous for a government ministry to put a family through such heartache without being required to justify its reasons in a timely manner.

The family of Laurel Wilson, who was seven months pregnant when she was struck by a car and killed; and of her father Ralph Jewell, who was killed in the same pedestrian accident; came to Abbotsford on Friday for the sentencing hearing for the man who caused the accident. Many of the family members took time off work for the hearing, and many travelled from the U.S., hoping to get the closure that a court verdict offers.

Morning cases went longer than expected, and the hearing was put over until Monday. Such delays are routine, and even expected.

Yet, despite demand for more courtrooms, judges and courthouse staff, Victoria has passed a budget that will require further cuts.