THE ADVOCATE 751
VOL. 78 PART 5 SEPTEMBER 2020
By the Honourable David Eby, Q.C.*
In the March 2020 issue of the Advocate, when I wrote about preparing for
the inevitability of more and better technology in the justice system, I did
not mean “because it will be here in three months”. I meant “because it will
be here sometime in the future, maybe even within five years”. Inevitable
but not imminent. Like self-driving cars. Or a version of Siri that understands
what you are asking for.
I had some grounding for this belief of inevitability, maybe even within
five years. In partnership with the three levels of court in B.C., government
had developed the Court Digital Transformation Strategy in 2019. The document
itself is highly ambitious, including a five-year implementation plan
for justice system proposals for digital end-to-end services, remote appearances
and hearings, digital document management and scheduling, and so
The “not imminent” part was also well grounded. The strategy includes
a technology “road map” for the courts, which for good reason in the near
term clearly preferred the pragmatic and deliverable over the exciting and
transformative. Major projects were saved for aspirational implementation
in 2024 and 2025. As an example of the pragmatic near-term approach, government
vowed that without doubt we would deliver expanded Wi-Fi in
courthouses by the end of 2020.
The relatively reserved pacing of the implementation road map in the
context of a more ambitious technology document was not a failure of imagination
or ambition on the parts of the chiefs of our courts. It was not a lack
of desire of the staff of the Ministry of Attorney General, or me, or government,
to deliver more in less time.
* The Honourable David Eby, Q.C., is British Columbia’s Minister of Justice and Attorney General.