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Cold Lake disappointed by federal governments appeal against Judicial appointment ruling

The City of Cold Lake finds itself disheartened by the recent decision of the federal government to appeal a crucial court ruling mandating action on the backlog of judicial appointments in the federal court system.  


Mayor Craig Copeland expressed deep concern over the ramifications of this decision. “Our court system is bogged down by an increase in crime and large numbers of repeat offenders who take up a significant amount of the courts’ time,” he remarked. “Add a shortage of judges to the scenario, making the situation critical. The public needs to see a system that works to maintain safe communities and the general public’s faith in the courts.” 


The ruling in question, Hameed v. Canada Prime Minister, 2024 FC 242, issued on February 13, ordered the federal government to expedite the filling of judicial vacancies within a “reasonable timeline,” emphasizing the failure of the government to ensure timely access to justice for Canadians. However, this month, the federal government announced its decision to appeal the ruling.  


The court’s directive was clear, reduce vacancies to at least 2016 levels to address the “untenable and appalling crisis” the Chief Justice and Canadian Judicial Council identified.  

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Cold Lake has been actively addressing public safety and crime issues, bolstering the Cold Lake RCMP Detachment with additional personnel, investing in a police dog service, and funding a commercial security program. Despite these efforts, Mayor Copeland stressed the indispensable role of an efficient judicial system. “The RCMP, bylaw officers, and security firms have been doing their part, but in the end, they require an efficient and effective judicial system if justice is to be served,” Copeland said.  


The federal government is responsible for appointing judges to the federal court system. “This is a core function of the federal government, and they’ve been asleep at the wheel,” Mayor Copeland remarked. “For our courts to work, we need the federal government to get to work.”  


With an eye toward broader advocacy, Cold Lake’s Council is contemplating raising the issue as a resolution for all Canadian municipalities to consider at a future regular meeting of the council. 


“This is an issue more municipalities should be aware of and advocate for since it has a real impact on our ability to provide our residents with safe communities,” Mayor Copeland concluded.  


The federal government’s appeal leaves communities like Cold Lake grappling with the consequences of an overstretched judicial system, urging authorities to prioritize swift and decisive action to ensure justice is served.  

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