That sure was a scathing letter in the Edmonton Journal on July 1, on the dire condition of Alberta’s capacity to prosecute crimes. Author Sheila Brown was taking both Justice Minister Katherine Ganley and Journal columnist Paula Simons to task – the former for making a bad situation worse, and the latter for praising Ganley for ‘fixing’ what she’d broken in the first place. In any case, Brown said, the system isn’t going to be fixed by a few more prosecutors. Provable crimes are going un-tried, because the resources simply are inadequate to the workload. She made it sound pretty discouraging, and she should know, having worked for many years as a prosecutor.
This is the kind of commentary you usually only hear ‘off the record’ from people involved in the system. They have too much to lose to speak out. Brown, recently retired, has no such impediment, and Simons’ column made her see red.
Brown’s analysis seems likely to be true, and we hope it caught the minister’s attention and will spark some needed changes.
This leads to a follow-up observation: say the government agrees there’s a big lack of resources in the area of criminal prosecution. The solution is to hire lots more people, adding millions more to the provincial budget. Critics of the government have been making hay like crazy on the Notley administration’s spending. So if you add millions in one area, where should you cut it? Or do you just accept that the already gigantic deficit should get even bigger?
It is a huge dilemma, to which the Opposition – their posturing notwithstanding – does not have a credible answer.