834 THE ADVOCATE
VOL. 78 PART 6 NOVEMBER 2020
In Board proceedings, decision makers travel to where the applicant is
temporarily residing (a hospital) or where it is otherwise convenient for the
applicant and the facility to participate (an office or room in a community
health care clinic or the applicant’s supportive housing residence). Commuting
by way of transit is easy. No expensive parking fees are required.
Hospitals and clinics have water fountains, lounge areas and coffee shops
for participants to refresh themselves before and after a hearing or during
brief adjournments. Best of all, the proceeding is initiated by very simple
paperwork. For a detention review, an applicant need only complete one
piece of paper, which a nurse, social worker or friend can assist them to do.
The applicant need not be literate, understand English, own a computer or
have computer skills. The necessary resources and assistance are readily
available at a hospital or clinic.
My new vision for family justice is “have judges, will travel”. Let the
judges go to the people, not the other way around. No longer do I advocate
for a new provincial courthouse structure in Richmond. The current one
will do, for special cases such as serious criminal matters and, perhaps,
unique family matters. Otherwise, I see a mobile system of family justice,
travelling to rooms in community centres, seniors’ centres, city halls, community
theatres and cineplex theatres. There are so many available buildings,
conveniently located on transit lines, with in-house amenities, and
where suitable space often sits empty during the day. Parking is usually
free. Some community centres even offer temporary child care. Simple studios,
small theatres, and hearing rooms could be rented at inexpensive
rates, far more cost-effective than building and maintaining courthouse
structures on ever-diminishing affordable real property in urban areas.
Judges would not need to wear heavy robes, nor would the presence of
sheriffs be necessary. Judges could bring with them, in their briefcases, a
portable Canadian flag to set up on a table in a community centre or theatre
studio hearing room. At the commencement of a proceeding, the judge
could lead hearing participants in the ritual bow with everyone in a gesture
of respect to the Canadian flag. The judge could record the proceedings with
a portable audio recorder. Would anything more be necessary?
And, if participants are disabled or otherwise unable to attend an in-
person hearing, it would certainly seem possible, and appropriate, for the
judge to convene a teleconference hearing. We know, given the success of
teleconference hearings for detention review hearings, that multiple participants,
including the most vulnerable of persons, can be treated with
respect, equality and fairness by means of a simple telephone call.
My vision is, likely, still limited. I know, with realistic humility, that my
outlook is often clouded, restricted and suffering from a lack of creative