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Our Canadian Justice System (Part 2)

I have had a few good lawyer friends through the years.  I will never forget what one of them told me a few years ago who had a successful law practice in Prince Albert and was in the process of entering semi retirement.  He said, when I entered the legal profession we practised law and to be successful you had to know law.  Today you need to learn how to negotiate and make deals.  He said, law has become a system of negotiation of sentence settlements it is not about law and justice anymore like when I started law.  I first want to make a disclaimer here that I do not profess to be an expert in law.  I am not a lawyer, I have had 11 years experience as a Justice of the Peace in Northern Saskatchewan. In those years I was able to get a perspective of how our legal system works and to see the frustration of so many RCMP who work in the system.   I was also a pastor of a small church in those years.  We would often have RCMP visit or attend our services.  One great memory was when one of the police officers doing his time in the north told me after attending our services for a time that he had accepted Christ as his personal Savior.  He said now I see everything from a different perspective and that is what the new birth by the Holy Spirit does in a persons life. Of the many things the new birth does it enables a spiritually blind person to see things from a spiritual perspective that he could not see before.  

I recall another time a young RCMP officer in the north called and asked if he could come and see me.  In our house I had an office and living room that was private with a big wood stove in the middle of the room.  This RCMP officer who I had met and talked to many times,  was married and had 2 children and was doing his two years in the north before hoping to get a posting in a southerly location as it was for most RCMP postings. I had got to know Fred quite well in my JP work at the police station each week. He came and sat down in my living room and said nothing for a few minutes.  He then said, we had a horrible night in Black Lake.  I could see this man was very troubled about something.  In my estimation of judging men this man was what I would call a first class police officer who really cared about his job and was serious about doing his job to the best of his ability.  He had character and a beautiful family. He joined the RCMP because he thought he could contribute something to society through the exercise of his part in the justice system. He really thought he could make a difference for good in communities where he was going to work wherever that might be in his career as a cop.   He continued to sit on my couch and I could see he was breaking down emotionally and I started to hear sobs of a broken man. I was witnessing the damage of a broken justice system on a good cop.  He then told me if I would have known this is what policing was going to be I would have never joined the force. He said there is no way in this present system we are going to make any difference for the good of these communities. He said, it is unbelievable how our justice system is so flawed and what we put up with as cops.  He said, I don’t know that the answer is but for sure what we are doing is not working and I feel trapped now.  He said, I have a family I need to provide for and I don’t know anything else I can do that makes a wage like I get now.  I am just hoping I can get out of the north soon.  I am going to apply for a traffic position somewhere where I do my shift, get in a patrol car and give traffic tickets for the day and go home.  I could tell this guy was emotionally and mentally drained, broken and done.  I have sensed this emotional drain with other RCMP officers serving in the north.  I sensed this cop was crying out “enough is enough” just like the indigenous lawyer Harold Johnson after his career as a trail lawyer in Laronge who said on the cover page of his book Peace and Good Order who said “ I feel ashamed that I didn’t have the courage to stand up in the courtroom and shout, “enough is enough”.  

The question I have to ask is where do we start to fix something so important as the justice system in our country.  If we have no effective justice system we are in big trouble.  I think there is a solution but the question is do we have the will to do what is necessary to make the required changes.  I want to share a biblical perspective on justice.  The greatest history book we have available is the Bible.  The word Bible is simply from the Latin root word book. Now proceeding the word Bible is the word Holy.  Holy simply means to “set apart” or book that is set apart from all others. It is amazing to me how afraid people are of the Bible but it really has the answers to huge crisis issues we are facing in this country. If you start mentioning anything about the Bible people run like scared rats for their dark hole to go and hide.   For those who do you are making a fatal mistake.  The Bible is the only book that we will find answers to our problems and issues today.  There are more and more people from all walks of life looking to the Bible again.  Even thousands of Muslims are realizing the Bible is real truth from a real God of truth.  I also encouraged by the people like Jordan Petersen, popular University of Toronto professor who recently said the Bible has changed my life. The Bible addresses every issue known to man and the solutions it offers really work.  One day in the future the entire world will be administrated by the Scripture and for the ones who will allow the scripture to rule in their lives now will get in on what God is going to do in the future. If you do not you are going to miss out on the plan for the future ages which I believe will begin soon.  

We live in a culture that would be referred to as a Judeo Christian heritage.  This simply means that we take principles from the Bible. The Bible is Judeo meaning the Old Testament reflects the Judeo history and principles we can glean from it and the Christian meaning is the New Testament where we can glean more wisdom. The New Testament started with two Jewish men one a prophet John the Baptist and the second man who was Jesus Christ who was also the Son of God.  Both of these men were Jews who died for the cause they represented.  One was executed by beheading because he told the king he was living a sinful life with a woman that was not his wife. The other crucified on a brutal cross for bringing the truth to a corrupted religious Jewish people.  Both men did this to demonstrate to a hateful world what it means to be a Christian representing a Kingdom that was not part of this world. The amazing part of all this  both did their part to usher in a time so we all could have eternal life by believing in Jesus Christ. You have only this life to make that choice and if you reject him in this life you will be separated from God for all eternity.  However, the Bible does not only give the message of eternal life it also gives principles to instruct us how to fix anything and every ill of our society including our justice systems.  Canada was off to a good start in its formation years.  Judeo Christianity permeated almost every institution in Canada. There are two stained glass windows in the Ottawa parliament buildings that have a message of Judeo Christian justice.  On the south window is the figure of Michael the Archangel next to justice who holds a sword.  On the blade of the sword is the figure of the crucified Christ. Also on the south windows along with a long vertical sword and on the cross guard is hung a set of scales and above the sword bears the word “retributionem” which is latin for punishment for sin.  Of course the message is two fold.  Christ punished all sin but the other side of the truth is if you do not accept the payment he paid for our sin we will have to pay the consequences for our sin which is a debt that never can be paid.  In the south window #1 of the Ottawa Parliament buildings a picture of Michael the Archangel bearing a trumpet signifying a call to righteousness. Under the picture of the Archangel is the scripture Nah 1:7  The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knows them that trust in him.

The foundation for proper justice is an understanding of right, wrong and truth balanced by mercy and those principles only come from one place….the Bible. If we do not establish a moral foundation of right and wrong from something other than ourselves then we will loose the very essence of justice. 

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The content of this article is solely the personal opinions of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Prince Albert Shopper.

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Wednesday March 13, 2024