In the field of motor vehicle collision reconstruction I have occasions to examine how the legal system functions with respect to persons charged with various crimes related to motor vehicle collisions. At times I have been approached by persons looking to defend themselves while also possessing limited resources. Over the years I have also observed various legal entities discussing the problems with self-representation before the courts. These self-representations occur because those charged do not have the funds to hire lawyers and associated collision reconstruction experts. It has been noted that these self-representations add to the wasting of court time when the self-representing individual does not have a clue about court proceedings. It also leads to the obvious problems that individuals are found guilty of crimes, or of greater crimes, not because they are more deserving but because their financial situation causes their poor performance before the courts.
In the most recent budget of Premier Ford’s Ontario government which was disclosed this week, it was revealed that the Legal Aid system in Ontario will see a cut of $133 million, or almost 30%, from the system’s budget. While the Ford government claimed that this will enhance the program’s search for innovative ways of delivering aid, the obvious reality is that this is a clear cutting of the funds that provide a minimal level of justice to those who cannot be properly represented in court.
The repercussions of such cuts may be difficult to match, one-to-one, as direct relationships of cause and effect. Those persons who are charged and convicted will likely be sent to jail or face other punishments more than their wealthy neighbours. But, over time, there will be repercussions.Those repercussions may not show up in government statistics as related to legal aid cuts. Those repercussions will exhibit themselves in the increased numbers of individuals who are sent to jail, come out, repeat their crimes, and are sent back to jail. There will be more homeless persons who will never escape their plight. There will be more persons who become regularly involved in petty crimes and who graduate to more serious crimes that become dangerous to our society. There will be more children, observing the injustices done to their parents, who will harbour their resentments that will be difficult to detect and more difficult to erase.They will relate to more gangs and criminal organizations who will prey on society even more than they do now. When we scratch our heads and wonder where all these dangerous persons came from we can be sure that actions such as cutting legal aid and many similar social programs will be well hidden from our conscious psyche.
Mr. Ford is a patient gardener who is dutifully incubating his precious seedlings of baby criminals. Watering and fertilizing them through the cutting of social programs, such that in 5, 10 or 20 years he will have a very fine crop of criminals that will be roaming our streets for a generation to come.