Justice Development Goals Blog

It is easy to get discouraged by the slow pace of progress on improving access to justice. But a constant source of encouragement is the enthusiasm and commitment of the current generation of law students.

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Innovation can be a driver of improved access to justice. But our profession is not noted for being at the forefront of innovation. And so it is encouraging to see signs that innovation is front and centre in the training of the next generation of lawyers. That is what I saw on a visit to Thompson Rivers University Faculty of Law in Kamloops, B.C., and in particular in a course created and taught by professor Katie Sykes.

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The Honourable Justice George Czutrin is a family law expert, a tireless worker for improvement in family law and the senior family judge of the Superior Court of Justice in Ontario. He has been a family law judge since 1993 and his dedication to the pursuit of improved family law justice is unsurpassed.

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John Sims was recently named a Member of the Order of Canada for his commitment to access to justice and for his principled and respected leadership as a senior public servant. Since “retiring” as the deputy minister of Justice and deputy attorney general of Canada, John has devoted his enormous energy and his many skills to efforts to improving access to justice. He agreed to respond to some questions from me to help mark this important recognition.

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Canada’s Justice Development Goals map ambitious change for our justice system. Not only do we need to see progress on each of the goals, we have committed to guiding principles for how to do that.

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There is a role for everyone in making this system work

On the cusp of the new year, I am reflecting on my experience as Chair of the Action Committee.  As many people know, I have retired from the Supreme Court of Canada, but been asked by Chief Justice McLachlin to remain active as Chair of this Committee, continuing to build momentum on access to justice in Canada.

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Canada’s justice system isn’t accessible to everyone. In some parts of the country, there are delays, in others there are gaps in services. In rural communities, people’s access is different than in cities. People can’t always get service in their first language, including French or English.

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