Emily Jaycox editorial

Be outraged by something that matters: our broken court system

The New Year is typically considered a time to reflect on the past year: the highs and lows, the achievements and the struggles. Usually these experiences are personal and differ from person to person, however, when the world was plunged into the global pandemic in 2020, we experienced many things in common, as a human family.

It’s hard to believe that in a couple of months, Alberta will have officially been in the COVID-19 pandemic for two years.

The past two years could be said to carry a common theme. One word comes to mind: injustice – and I’m not talking about COVID-19 public health measures.

While there has been suffering and losses directly related to the virus and the restrictions put in place that were meant to stem the tide, these past two years have also shone a light on other societal issues that are causing suffering.

While many have decried the loss of “rights” because they have been required to cover their face, or other comparatively small concessions in the name of public health, the world has grappled to come to terms with true injustice on a grand scale.

The name “George Floyd” become synonymous with 2020 and the outrage against racism was felt across the globe. The three words “I can’t breathe” are now a haunting mantra inscribed into the collective human consciousness. Some blame Floyd, saying he was far from a stand-up citizen. But should the price for spending a $20 dollar bill that was suspected to be counterfeit be death? How is this justice?

2021 was similarly marked, with the discovery — or acknowledgement, may be more accurate — of unmarked graves of children who were taken to residential schools in Canada and never came home. It had such a large impact on the year as a whole that the Canadian Press named it the top news story of the year.

Coming to a greater knowledge of what Canada was founded on and its history should have been a cause for soul-searching and grieving for every Canadian. Sadly, and to our shame, some still deny the injustice and abuses or brush it off as being before their time and somehow, therefore, beyond their compassion.

Right here in Ponoka and Maskwacis, families are awaiting justice for the loss of murdered loved ones as the slow, corroded wheels of justice continue to turn, sometimes imperceptibly.

Be outraged that Tyler Campbell, who pleaded guilty to the manslaughter with a firearm of Ponoka man Jeff Kraft in December, 2019, is still awaiting sentencing after various delays.

The judge in the case was asking for a harder sentence for Campbell, than the seven years supported by both the Crown prosecutor and the defence. Campbell is now scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 20.

Due process takes times; proper judgement takes time, and while painful for the victims and their families, rushing it wouldn’t be justice. However, it must be agony for the family, who was expecting Campbell to be sentenced nearly a year ago. We will see if it goes forward this time or if gets set over again.

Be outraged that Chantelle Firingstoney, a young Ponoka mother, was killed, presumably at home, allegedly by a man that had already been charged with a murder earlier that year. He was out on bail at the time. Now her four children are left without their mother.

The preliminary hearing for the accused in her death, Ryan Jake Applegarth, has also been delayed.

We seem to be operating with a broken justice system that seems to favour the perpetrator rather than the victims and public safety.

Be outraged about that.