The Quebec Bar Association says the justice system in northern Quebec is failing in almost every way.
In a new report, the association says governments urgently need to invest more.
“Frankly it's amazing how deficient justice is," said Bernard Synnott, president of the Quebec Bar Association.
Synnott and a group of colleagues made four trips to the North over the last two years to see how justice was being served.
He said they found there's essentially no justice infrastructure: no courthouses, no rehab programs, no social workers, no crime-prevention programs and inadequate detention facilities.
Synnott said lawyers and judges fly in to northern Quebec for a couple of days every few months — and everything is improvised.
“The trials are being held in arenas and gymnasiums. The lawyers don't have any rooms to meet with their clients except in restrooms."
Another significant problem is the postponement of trials, which Synnott said often has nothing to do with administrative reasons.
“Weather conditions play a big role in hearing delays, but the perception on the ground is that the inadequacy of the justice system benefits the lawyers."
Synnott also said it’s like a "Third World country" in our own backyard that has bred deep mistrust among people who live in the North.
"They say it's the justice of the whites. You come here every once in awhile and you put everybody in jail," said Synnott.
The Quebec Bar Association is calling on the provincial and federal governments to spend money to fix this problem.
No one from the provincial justice department was available to comment.
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