Three parties pondering unified justice system


Nunatsiaq News

IQALUIT Officials working within the northern justice system favor a single unified court for Nunavut, but the signatories to the Nunavut political accord have yet to endorse the idea.

Justice officials recommended combining the Nunavut territorial and supreme courts after meeting for two days in Iqaluit last week.

That meeting, hosted by Nunavut’s interim commissioner, was a recommendation from the Nunavut Implementation Commission’s Footprints 2 report last October.

Within that report, NIC also presented the proposal to blend the two courts.

“The NIC detects a widespread belief on the part of those who work in the justice system on a day-to-day basis particularly the criminal justice component that the current system is not working well and that problems are growing at an alarming rate,” the report states.

“As a general proposition, the NIC supports the unification of the courts in Nunavut, particularly if such unification can be accomplished in ways that enhance involvement and confidence at the community level and that address perceptions on the part of the public, and well-placed organizations such as Pauktuutit, as to what parts of the justice system warrant greatest attention and most pressing change.”

Rebecca Williams, director of justice programs for the interim commissioner’s office, said all the recommendations from the workshop will be sent to the federal government, GNWT and Nunavut Tunngavik Inc (NTI) by the end of this week.

NTI, in its response to Footprints 2, has already agreed in principle with the unification of the courts.

Justice officials also recommended there be three Supreme Court justices, that they live in Nunavut, and that they take cross-cultural training. More involvement with community groups was also discussed.

“Even though they’re Supreme Court judges, they must involve the community justice groups on all aspects of hearings on all cases,” Williams said.

“Another important issue was that judges must be appointed jointly by the Nunavut government and the government of Canada.”

Currently, the GNWT appoints territorial judges while Supreme Court appointments are made by the federal government

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