Jacques Boissinot Archives The Canadian Press Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette wants to free municipal judges and speed up procedures for citizens.
The Minister of Justice, Simon Jolin-Barrette, wants to free municipal courts from thousands of parking ticket files and establish a system of “justice by appointment” for citizens who have committed this type of offense.
“Citizens will no longer have to miss a full morning of work to go to the Municipal Court to contest a ticket,” summarized the elected official Thursday, after tabling Bill 40 This aims in particular to improve the performance of the justice system.
At the Montreal Municipal Court, 72% of cases — 1.2 million in total — are parking tickets. In Quebec, this proportion is 62%, illustrated Mr. Jolin-Barrette.
To free municipal judges and speed up procedures for citizens, Mr. Jolin-Barrette proposes extracting these files from municipal courts so that they are processed by “independent administrative decision-makers”. In his opinion, this measure will have “a positive impact on delays in criminal and penal matters, since the judges who currently handle this type of case will be freed and will be able to devote themselves to handling the heaviest cases.”
< p>In Montreal, 2,000 domestic violence cases land before the Municipal Court each year. The Court inherits so-called “less serious” charges, brought summarily, including certain types of assault, harassment and threats.
A 180-degree turn
By freeing judges from work related to parking tickets, the minister hopes to free “about five judges” at the Montreal Municipal Court. On this issue, Mr. Jolin-Barrette changes his approach completely. In 2022, he told Devoir that he intended to launch discussions with the City of Montreal to repatriate all cases of domestic violence to the Court of Quebec.
Given the creation of a court specializing in sexual and domestic violence, the elected official wanted to “ensure that the environment is the same for each of the victims”. Women's groups had previously criticized the fact that cases of violence end up before the Montreal Municipal Court, a body renowned for its high volume of cases.
On Thursday, Mr. Jolin-Barrette instead declared that “the Montreal Municipal Court [is] already doing very good work in matters of domestic violence.” “Prosecutors are trained, judges are trained as well. There is support provided by social services,” he said.
The Minister of Justice's bill also provides for the abolition of a two-tier regime for judges, some of whom work “exclusively” and others “at the session”. Only the cities of Montreal, Laval and Quebec currently have exclusive judges. The 89 other municipal courts share judges appointed at the session, who cannot sit more than 250 times in the year.
The granting of the exclusive title, a national jurisdiction, allows a magistrate to exercise throughout Quebec. “Suppose a judge is based in Saint-Hilaire. He will be able to go to the municipal court of Beloeil and Saint-Hyacinthe. We will have greater flexibility to optimize resources and offer more services to citizens, more time slots,” illustrated the minister.
Assuming the “good collaboration” of the opposition parties , Mr. Jolin-Barrette said he was optimistic about being able to implement the changes he proposed Thursday in the spring.