Justice Development Goals Blog


There is a role for everyone in making this system work

Steering a Ship with Many Captains

On the cusp of the new year, I am reflecting on my experience as Chair of the Action Committee.  As many people know, I have retired from the Supreme Court of Canada, but been asked by Chief Justice McLachlin to remain active as Chair of this Committee, continuing to build momentum on access to justice in Canada.

When this Committee was established in 2008, no one knew exactly where its work would lead. I venture a guess that no one would have pictured where we have got to. The Action Committee has engaged a broader range of participants, from academics to judges to public voices to legal professionals, on a more urgent agenda for change than we have seen in the past.

Nine years later, the Action Committee’s call to action (hyperlink to Roadmap) has been met with active, forward-looking collaboration in every territory and province in the country. I am in the enviable position of getting to hear about the innovation and experimentation happening across the country. It is a delight to see law students, community members, judges, bureaucrats all at the same table, to see prominent lawyers sitting down with high school students, to see clinic staff demonstrating inclusive technology. At every turn, I am confronted by a new optimism and genuine collaboration.

This doesn’t mean that we have solved all of the problems, by any means. In fact, there is a long road ahead. However, as we coordinate our activities under the Justice Development Goals, there is a role for everyone in making this system work. While our progress may look different depending on where you live, there certainly is no shortage of ideas and energy to make it happen. With this many creative, committed people tackling the issue, I am confident that we will see real progress on the Justice Development Goals. It is a pleasure to continue to try to keep this ship, filled with captains in their own right, on track toward a truly accessible justice system.

Tom Cromwell

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