Government considers new court, dismantles another

James McLeod
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Kathy Dunderdale

Even as the provincial government dismantles the Family Violence Intervention Court as part of 2013 budget cuts, Justice Minister Darin King said this week that it’s still looking to set up a different specialized court system.

The issue came up in Estimates Committee, a House of Assembly mechanism that allows opposition MHAs to ask ministers and senior bureaucrats about budget spending in an informal way.

New Democrat MHA Gerry Rogers spent a hefty amount of time during the committee meeting asking King about the decision to cut the Family Violence Intervention Court, which she says is a major mistake.


“We cannot afford to keep incarcerating people. It’s not about being soft on crime. This is about investment. This is about trying to mitigate the effects of crime. It’s about trying to stop it,” she told The Telegram. “We’re now going to be, I believe, the only province without a family violence intervention court.”

King said he understands where Rogers is coming from, and he understands that she’s got a close association with the issue.

“The difference between her position and mine at this point is that I have to make a decision around the budget and the whole department. She’s into an advocacy mode, and obviously advocating that it’s a good thing. That’s fair. That’s politics,” he said. “I’ve never said it’s not a good thing; it’s just a dollars-and-cents decision, so we’ve decided not to continue it.”

The family violence court was a specialized system in which people involved in domestic violence were forced to plead guilty to get into the process. The system was designed to handle matters more quickly, and provide more support for offenders and victims.

It was still a pilot program, and King said the decision to eliminate it had to be made.

But even as the government is dismantling the system, King said he’s still working to make good on a 2011 election promise to set up a specialized drug court.

The goal, according to the PC party’s Blue Book, would be to “reduce crime committed as a result of drug dependency through court-monitored treatment and community service support for offenders with drug addictions.”

King said the government is not spending any money on the idea this year, but it hasn’t dropped it.

“We’re just studying the idea,” he said. “We’ve not deviated from our Blue Book commitment. If we do, we’ll communicate that to the people.”

The Blue Book also highlighted the Family Violence Intervention court — although it didn’t promise to save it from the budgetary axe.

“Our government currently sponsors a pilot program similar to those offered in other jurisdictions called the Specialized Family Violence Court,” the PC party election platform said. “Selected perpetrators of domestic violence receive counselling to address the root causes of the violence in a concerted attempt to eliminate the violence at its source. Victims of domestic violence also receive support and counselling from this process.”

King wouldn’t say if a drug court is more important than a family violence intervention court.

“I think that’s very much a person’s opinion. I won’t respond to that,” he said. “The only decision I’ve made relative to that is that in this year’s budget, the family violence court is not a priority with the budget I have. I have not said the drug court is more, because I’m not funding it.”

Rogers said the province needs both.

“It’s about reducing recidivism. It is about trying to mitigate the possibility that this person is going to reoffend and it’s about rehabilitation,” she said. “It costs way more to lock someone up than it does to provide services.”

Twitter: TelegramJames


Organizations: Estimates Committee, PC Party Blue Book

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Recent comments

  • Tony Rockel
    May 02, 2013 - 14:55

    Ambrose Bierce's definition of 'idiot' : "Member of a large and powerful tribe whose influence in human affairs is at all times dominant and controlling".

  • Mary
    May 02, 2013 - 14:28

    Bluderdale got to go. She is incompetent. And costing the. Citizens of NFL. A lot.. Time to go Kathy

  • I pity the Premier for allowing herself to kowtow to the Prime Minister's request for her Silence.
    May 02, 2013 - 11:33

    When, the Premier, of a province like Newfoundland and Labrador that holds a decent percentage of the natural resources of Canada and the greatest strategic location , agrees to abide by the SILENCE commanded of her by the Prime Minister of Canada at the beginning of her reign, and he then literally kicks her in the face on ever turn when she needed him, why wouldn't she have a countenance of BEWILDERMENT on her face? The province of Newfoundland and Labrador has been shafted in Canada. If we had gone it alone in 1949, given our great natural resource base and prime location both of which served Canada very well economically, we could have most likely ended up being one of the Great (G20) economies, that sprung up after the Second World War in a time of "giddy" economics. Yes, folks please think about it, we had the Great Resources, we had the Great Great Location with every point situated on the Atlantic Ocean trade routes, all that we needed to become a G20 country was to garner a few good, honest managers who had the interest of our country/province at heart over, their own personal interests. After we became part of Canada our politicians bowed down to Ottawa's every wish and passed our country and our natural resources over lock, stock and barrel for the betterment of the rest of Canada, while forsaking Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. Shame on You Ottawa for pulling the wool over our eyes. Now Please do what Loblaws are doing in Bangladesh, where they are trying to bring about ethical change in the garment industry to ensure the safety of their workers they employ while they are making a living for their families. It didn't take them long after the collapse of the Garment Industry Factory to understand that something had to be done. Ottawa needs to do an accounting of the hardships it has perpetrated on the province of Newfoundland and Labrador over the past 64 years in its milking of our raw natural resources for the benefit of the other Canadian provinces.

  • Dismayed Taxpayer
    May 02, 2013 - 11:12

    I am bewildered at the decisions made by the Dunderdale government. We all know that crime is INCREASING not DECREASING in NL. Yet, the government makes cuts to resources and programs that deal with these offenders. In comparison, it's like getting rid of medical personnel when there is a widespread epidemic. Makes no sense.

  • Randy
    May 02, 2013 - 10:21

    I can tell you now ,what peaple will tell King and Dunderdale to do with thier Blue Book,but i won't at this time

  • JD
    May 02, 2013 - 10:21

    Darin King is not in touch with his department. He should take some time to consult with the front line people of each division before making uneducated decisions. It will be too late when an indivicual loses their life because they fall through the cracks in the justice system.

  • coco
    May 02, 2013 - 09:26

    Their decisions have such huge implications that it seems like only an election could help clear up the confusion among the citizenry. Unfortunately that can't happen for another two and a half years. I think Mark Twain was onto something when he said, "Politicians and diapers must be changed often, and for the same reason."

  • Graham
    May 02, 2013 - 08:02

    Theres the smiling face of our LOST..CONFUSED..BEWILDERED ..Premier

  • mundy
    May 02, 2013 - 06:37

    I can see another blunder in the making !!!