Tories New Ombudsman = Zero-Sum Gain for Victims?
The Honourable Robert Douglas Nicholson
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
284 Wellington Street
Canada K1A 0H8
Honourable Member Nicholson:
Forgive me for seeming ungrateful, But it’s this business of the new victims ombudsman…
On paper it looks great: you create a new Federal Ombudsman position in Ottawa to deal with a steady growing number of problems for victims of crime in Canada. The initiative will pump $53 million into resolving victims issues over the next four years.
The Mandate as you state it is as follows:
“facilitating access of victims to existing federal programs and services by providing them with information and referrals.”
Sorry, but isn’t the Policy Centre for Victims Issues already doing this?
“addressing complaints of victims about compliance with the provisions of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act that apply to victims of offenders under federal supervision and providing an independent resource for those victims”
Ok, this is good… except for provinces like Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia who have their own Provincial Corrections and Parole divisions.
“enhancing awareness among criminal justice personnel and policy makers of the needs and concerns of victims and the applicable laws that benefit victims of crime, including to promote the principles set out in the Canadian Statement of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime; and “
Ok, again, very good, but aren’t Justice personnel already sensitive to victims issues?
Back to that $53 million… Only 9% will actually go the the Federal Ombudsman, the remaining 91% goes to Justice, Corrections and Parole: aren’t they already doing enough for victims?
For the Ombudsman’s office, that breaks out to $1.5 million per year;Coosh, but is that enough to really make an impact for victims in Canada?
And about the appointed Ombudsman (I will refrain from any criticisms about a language barrier; I apologise for any former remarks), but Steve Sullivan is one of our own. Mr. Sullivan is the former president of the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime. The CRCVC’s mandate is to:
– To assist victims of crime and their families in dealing with the sentence administration or parole authorities to ensure that they are kept informed, if they so choose, of actions which affect their future safety and well being
– To, where appropriate and authorized by law, appear with victims of crime and their families and assist them in securing legal counsel at hearings in which they may participate as victims of crime
– To act as a resource centre for victims by providing understanding and knowledge of the Canadian Criminal Justice System
– To actively present the interests and perspectives of victims of crime to Government, at all levels, and its various agencies
– To generally promote the interests of public safety through the principles of openness and accountability within the Criminal Justice System and the Sentence Administration Process
To advocate on behalf of crime victims and assist them in obtaining needed services and resources
– To act as a centre of information addressing the issues affecting victims of crime throughout Canada
– To promote and enhance the interaction and exchange of information and perspectives among other agencies and groups within the Canadian Criminal Justice System
– To assist victims in obtaining and understanding information on offenders
– To assist victims in understanding the parole process, and to attend parole hearings with or on behalf of the victims
– access to government programs and services and will also research victims’ issues.
Excuse me, but aren’t these the same mandates of your new Federal Ombudsman? (actually, I’m sure you’ll agree, those, and a whole lot more!)
What’s more, it’s believed that with the departure of Mr. Sullivan the CRCVC will actually fold, so aren’t victims – in effect – losing ground in their struggle to achieve basic human rights?
One last thing. For the past four years I have been sending annual Canada Day letters to the Minister of Justice inquiring as to the laws, rules, policies governing evidence retention in Canada. The list of recipients is long including former ministers, Irwin Cotler, Anne McLellan, and Vic Toews.
I have never received an answer to my question about evidence from any Justice Minister.
This year, do you recommend I send the letter to the Federal Ombudsman in lieu of taking up your valuable time?
Again, really sorry for the disruption.
Another Grateful Canadian,