Saturday, January 31, 2009

justice denied

This same justice system has been denied to injured workers for years and this just proves us right the justice system in this country is for the people who can afford to buy it it's time for the working class to say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH

Justice failed ordinary citizens

Times ColonistJanuary 31, 2009

An effective and equitable legal system is as critical to a democratic society as free elections.

Unless all citizens have access to justice, the rights and responsibilities established in laws or a constitution are meaningless.

In British Columbia today, they only apply to some citizens -- those with money and influence, or the backing of protectors who wield those advantages.

Lawyer Peter Ritchie laid bare B.C.'s shame this week.

Ritchie, who represented two daughters of a couple killed in the Queen of the North sinking, delivered a scathing rebuke as he announced they had been forced to settle out of court. The law's limits, B.C. Ferries' intransigence and the tremendous legal costs -- many imposed by the provincial government -- made it impossible for the two girls to pursue legal recourse.

If someone you love dies because of negligent actions, "don't go looking for justice in the province of British Columbia," Ritchie said. "Unless you are wealthy, you won't be able to afford court in B.C.

"Very sadly, two lovely teenage girls from Penticton will never know what happened to their father," he added. "Our so-called justice system has let them down."

The provincial government wanted the girls to pay $15,000 to cover courtroom costs. It wanted another $25,000 to pay for a jury. They would have had to pay for witnesses to be flown from Prince Rupert, including B.C. Ferries employees.

No other province charges such fees, says Ritchie. In Alberta, the costs would be $800; in Ontario, $645.

Yet in B.C., the price for just a courtroom and jury would be $40,000.

And every step of the way, the girls would face a corporation with vast resources fighting a war of attrition. B.C. Ferries, like any participant in our system, could throw up barriers at every step. The corporation had even refused to agree the girls' parents were dead, forcing them to go to court for a legal ruling -- and pushing up their costs.

This disease eating at our system isn't just harming individuals. The legal system should be exposing systemic failures. The public has a great interest in knowing how the Queen of the North disaster happened. No other process has provided vital answers. Now costs have blocked access to answers through the courts. The only alternative is a costly, slow public inquiry.

More broadly, the erosion of justice undermines the basic compact that holds society together. We accept the rule of law on the basis that access is equal and that the process is fair.

That is no longer true. In too many cases, the moneyed and powerful have legal power; average citizens can forget about justice.

That is a formula for oppression, exploitation and, eventually, disorder, as people take whatever action they can to defend their own interests when the system will not.

Link to Story:Times Colonists

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