Canadian Lawyer

July/August 2020

The most widely read magazine for Canadian lawyers

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Page 12 of 35 11 Valérie Plante to explain how they intend to implement the recognized actions to address systemic discrimination. These actions include the Calls for Justice from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and the Calls to Action from the Viens Commission, as well as proposals in various research studies, principles of reconcili- ation and international denunciations. Chief Adrienne Jérôme from Lac Simon, spokeswoman for the AFNQL's Council of Elected Women, said that, even with all these possible solutions and millions of dollars in investments, police abuses continue. "It is with the greatest outrage that we see another case too many," said Jérôme. "We will not give up and we will continue to show our determina- tion to denounce all cases of racial profiling and police excesses," said Michel. In December 2018, the SPVM announced a strategy to eliminate racial and social profiling, following the launch of a class action against police that alleged racial profiling. Critics charged that a similar program had been in place for several years previously but yielded no concrete results. Quebec chief justice fears trial backlog Q&A Fast Facts: - Appointed chief justice on July 1, 2015 by Prime Minister Stephen Harper - Puisne justice of Appeal of Quebec from 2011 to 2015 - Appointed to the Superior Court on Oct. 1, 2002 - Lecturer for Quebec's bar admission course from 1985 to 1995 and a lecturer at the University of Quebec in Montreal and the University of Montreal Jacques Fournier Chief Justice SUPERIOR COURT OF QUEBEC As courts across the country have struggled to continue operating in the COVID-19 pandemic and physical distancing requirements, Canadian Lawyer is surveying Canada's chief justices as to how they are managing the crisis. Here, Superior Court of Quebec Chief Justice Jacques Fournier explains how his court has adapted to COVID-19 and the challenges still to be faced. What are some of the adjustments you've had to make since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic? Our very first reaction goes back to even before there was a governmental decree [of a state of emergency]; we decided to postpone all jury trials. Then, we worked with the other courts for suspensions, except for very urgent matters. Our attorney general was very co-operative; we planned some virtual courtrooms, but putting them to use took a little bit of time. Many judges have taken a short course in order to preside over court hearings from their houses. My main concern is not today; my main concern is tomorrow. Now we're dealing with files that are ready for trial but cannot proceed. Our motions courts have not been working at full strength; the logistics of a trial always needs four to five people: the judge, lawyers, one to two of the parties and the court clerk. It's very difficult to put them all in the same place safely at the same time. So, we're doing a lot by videoconference [and] we're doing some in person when it cannot wait. The number of judges is not sufficient to meet the needs. And we will have to decide on many cases that should have been decided in March, April, May, even June. With cameras and personal computers, we might work at 70 per cent of our usual rate. There are many lawyers that I've heard of who have concerns about the way to go about cross-examination [remotely] and have concerns about the credibility of witnesses. They're fair concerns. "Is the extent of this intervention linked to the fact that it had to do with an Indigenous woman?" Viviane Michel, Quebec Native Women

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