Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Feb 25: Crowded courts, and other letters to the editor

Letters to the Editor should be exclusive to The Globe and Mail. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. Try to keep letters to fewer than 150 words. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. To submit a letter by e-mail, click here:


Clogged courts

Story continues below advertisement

Avoiding preliminary hearings by preferring direct indictments and going directly to trial won't solve the court delay problem (Ontario Crowns Told To Skip Preliminary Inquiries To Avoid Delays, Feb. 23).

Preliminary hearings in serious cases are there for a purpose. In a preliminary hearing, which is conducted at Provincial Court, the Crown must demonstrate to the satisfaction of the presiding judge that there is sufficient evidence upon which a court could convict the accused of the charge. Insufficient evidence leads to the case being dismissed, thus avoiding a long and costly trial.

Going directly to trial will, in the long run, result in greater delay and more court time being wasted since all cases will be going to trial, including those where the Crown has insufficient evidence to secure a conviction.

Garth M. Evans, Vancouver


There has been much discussion recently of circumventing the preliminary inquiry as a means of meeting the 30-month ceiling (or deadline) for trial in Superior Court set by the Supreme Court in its R. vs Jordan ruling.

Calls have been made for the elimination of the preliminary inquiry, and for the prosecution to make greater use of the direct indictment power to send matters straight to trial. The reasoning is easy to grasp. Preliminary inquiries take time, and thus avoiding them makes it more likely that cases will finish within 30 months. There is a wrinkle, however.

Story continues below advertisement

The courts may hold that avoiding a preliminary inquiry shortens the applicable deadline. The Supreme Court appeared to set the 30-month ceiling in contemplation of a preliminary inquiry being held. That is one reason why it set a shorter deadline (18 months) for cases in Provincial Court; trials in that court are not preceded by a preliminary inquiry.

Thus, it is possible the Supreme Court's ruling implicitly dictates that the ceiling for trials in Superior Court without a preliminary inquiry is actually 18 months. Indeed, one could argue that it is just 12 months, as that is the period the Jordan ruling allows for proceedings in Superior Court (30 months total minus 18 months for antecedent proceedings in Provincial Court).

The better view is probably that 30 months is still the ceiling, but there is yet another wrinkle. The Jordan ruling allows for cases in Superior Court to be dismissed for unreasonable delay even if they finish in fewer than 30 months. The accused must establish, among other things, that the case took markedly longer than it reasonably should have. But establishing that should be easier if there was no preliminary inquiry, since that would lessen the complexity of the case. There are no easy answers to the problem of clogged court dockets.

Christopher Sherrin, associate professor, faculty of law, University of Western Ontario, London, Ont.


M-103 manoeuvrings

Story continues below advertisement

Why the hysteria over Motion 103 (Liberals Vote Down Conservative Anti-Racism Motion, Feb. 22)? Political opportunism, as usual. Plain and simple.

Something happened between the introduction of M-103, which initially had the support of the Conservatives, and now. Some strategist probably came to the realization that popular endorsement of this motion would make it that much more difficult for the Conservatives to continue scapegoating the Muslim community, using fear to galvanize Canadians.

Stephen Harper may have failed to win the last federal election using this dirty tactic, but Donald Trump's rise to power in the United States has given the Conservatives renewed hope that it is possible to delude good people into believing anything. Supporting the motion would be like throwing away the proverbial ace up one's sleeve. Ultimately the party must prevail and winning at any cost can always be justified. The Conservatives are probably kicking themselves for having complicated things, hoping they haven't completely squandered their "trump" card.

Zan Saleemi, London, Ont.


Not all Tories alike

Mr. Harper's use of identity politics in the 2015 election failed. His former communications director, Andrew MacDougall, wonders if the current Conservative leadership candidates (minus Michael Chong) have learned anything since (Lose The Anger, Tories, And Recall Your Inclusive Heritage, Feb. 23).

But these candidates think that dog-whistle politics are still in session. And they're waiting to learn if card-carrying Conservative members are more responsive, than the general electorate, to the anger they whip up toward immigrants, refugees and Muslims. Members need to teach them that their party is not made up of the narrow, stereotypical, intolerant profile they believe it to be.

Ali Manji, Thornhill, Ont.


True barbecue

The primary theme of your barbecuing article was that there is substantial misunderstanding among Canadians of what constitutes true barbecue (Get a 'Cue, Feb. 22).

So how ironic it was to read letter writer Paul Thiessen's subsequent submission, reminding readers that the World Health Organization considers processed meats – including "hot dogs, sausages, corned beef, beef jerky and canned meat" – to be carcinogenic (Barbecuing Grilled, Feb. 23). Processed meats are simply not part of real barbecue. While many establishments serve sausages, they are of the homemade, unprocessed variety. Just try heading to the southern United States and asking for a hot dog or canned meat at a barbecue joint.

Andrew Matthews, Toronto

Report an error
As of December 20, 2017, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this resolved by the end of January 2018. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to