A prominent Toronto lawyer says the Trudeau government’s ‘diversity, equity and inclusion’ agenda is contributing to judicial vacancies that are resulting in serious criminal trials being tossed.  

There are currently 21 vacancies in the Ontario Superior Court alone, including six in Toronto.

This has resulted in court delays and backlogs, as well as several files in the Ontario Superior Court collapsing in the last few months, including a human trafficking case, a gun possession case and a sex assault case. 

The cases collapsed after the trials went beyond a time limit imposed by the Supreme Court’s landmark R v Jordan ruling, which says cases must be heard within 18 months in provincial courts or 30 months in superior courts to not violate one’s right to a fair trial.

Chief Justice Richard Wagner sounded the alarm last June on the high number of judicial vacancies, saying “these empty positions have a significant impact on the administration of justice, the functioning of our courts, and access to justice for the public.” 

Is DEI contributing to judicial vacancies?

Ari Goldkind, a prominent Toronto criminal defence lawyer, says DEI ideology is contributing to the Trudeau government’s failure to fill judicial vacancies.  

“We have a terrible and so far extremely ineffective justice minister in a government so obsessed with identity politics and with the appointment of certain ‘preferred’ judges whose immutable characteristics and political views are politically appetizing for them,” said Goldkind in an interview with True North.

The Trudeau government made major changes to judicial appointments in 2016 to increase gender, racial and sexual diversity. As a result of these reforms, more than half of judicial appointments since then have been women. A considerable number have also been visible and sexual minorities, as well as individuals with disabilities.

The Trudeau government doubled down on its DEI judicial agenda last fall, saying it was committed to “greater diversity on the bench.”

For Goldkind, this focus on DEI is resulting in a sidelining of merit, and efficiency in filling vacancies.

“There are hundreds of capable and meritorious judicial applicants that will not be quickly selected because they don’t rank as high on the identity politics totem pole as others, even though they have the legal chops, good judgment, and level of experience to make them excellent appointments,” he said.

Justice Minister Arif Virani’s office did not respond to a request for comment from True North.

Goldkind said there are other factors at play too behind court delays and backlogs, including a dramatic rise in violent crime over the past few years. Canada’s murder rate is currently at its highest in 30 years. He ascribed much of the blame on Justin Trudeau’s soft on crime and open border policies.

“You have an incredible rise in crime throughout Ontario, and most of Canada, simply due to the federal government’s extremely soft on crime policies, as well as immigration policies that more and more Canadians are starting to realize, including an essentially bottom-line position that if you make it to a Canadian airport, no matter who you are or where you’re from, you’re welcome here for the rest of your life,” Goldkind said.

The rise in crime is resulting in an increased demand for courts. 

Goldkind noted that this demand would be reduced if “there were fewer people who were dangerous and violent who were released prematurely, or inappropriately in relation to the violence or antisocial nature of their crime, or were given their 8th bail after their 7th violent or non-complying offense.”

On the Jordan ruling used as a basis for tossing out cases after lengthy delays, Goldkind said some nuance is needed.

“I think it’s a decision that has arguably been unhelpful. Perhaps the intentions were good, but it created a whole new set of problems, while trying to solve a previous one.”

Goldkind argued that there is a difference between someone being in custody for 30 months waiting for their trial, and someone who gets to wait for their trial at home. 

“That distinction should matter more significantly in the calculation than it currently does.”

Trudeau blames Harper

Responding to rising crime last week, Trudeau blamed the Harper government.

“In the previous government, funding for border security was gutted,” said Trudeau at a summit organized to address rising auto theft. “A long tail of cuts like this have hurt the ability of border agents to do their jobs.”

Goldkind told True North he finds the shift in blame to be absurd.

“When we see how crime has changed from 2015 because of horrible federal policies, immigration, criminal justice, mandatory minimums and various other bills that make the Canadian public less safe while being obsessed with the colour or background of convicted criminals,” Goldkind said. “Saying this is Harper’s fault should be immediately disqualifying for anybody to be taken as a serious or honest person.”