John Howard Society of Alberta logo Spring 2006 Edition

The Reporter

double line
scales of justice

Community Issues in Criminal Justice

"Helping people in trouble change their lives"
Vision Statement of the Edmonton Drug
Treatment & Community
Restoration Court

A Drug Treatment Court for Edmonton

At the beginning of June, 2005, the Canadian Ministry of Justice announced that “ pilot project” funding had been approved for the establishment of Drug Treatment Courts in Edmonton, Regina, Winnipeg, and Ottawa. These Courts joined the Toronto Drug Treatment Court, which was the first in Canada and established in 1999, and the Vancouver Drug Treatment Court established in 2000. For those involved in the process of seeking establishment of a Drug Treatment Court in Edmonton, this was the culmination of over 5 years of hard work, and an affirmation of the collaborative process that had been the model adopted in Edmonton at the outset. This collaborative process saw inclusion of the judiciary, the federal and provincial crown prosecutors, court services, Alberta Probation, the defence bar, the Edmonton Police Service [EPS], AADAC, and numerous community organizations, including, at various times, the Edmonton John Howard Society and the John Howard Society of Alberta.

The “driving force” and primary impetus for establishment of this Court in Edmonton was Her Honour, Provincial Court Judge D. Wong, with the approval and support of His Honour, Provincial Court Chief Judge E. Walter. And while it is fair to say that without this judicial enthusiasm for the establishment of the Court it would almost certainly not have happened, it is also fair to say that without the approval and support of:

  • the federal crown, in the person of Mr. Wes Smart, Q.C.,
  • the provincial crown, in the person of Mr. Dave Hill,
  • the Edmonton defence bar in the person of Ms. Laura Stevens, Q.C., and in particular from the community,
  • The Prostitution Action and Awareness Foundation of Edmonton [PAAFE], in the persons of Ms. Kate Quinn and Ms. Joann McCartney,
  • The Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission, in the persons of Mr. Barry Andres and Allan Aubrey,
  • The Salvation Army in the person of Mr. Larry Brown, and
  • the Edmonton John Howard Society, in the person of Ms. Maureen Collins, and the John Howard Society of Alberta in the person of Mr. Brad Odsen,

the Court would either not have been established at all, or at least not in the form in which it was eventually established. And finally in this regard, the enormous contribution of Mr. Neil Skinner, Counsel to the Provincial Court of Alberta, functioning as, in effect, “project manager”, must be acknowledged.

Drug Treatment Courts are a relatively new phenomena in Canada, but have been in existence in the United States for over 30 years. Indeed, there are now well over 1,200 Drug Treatment Courts operating in the United States. Not surprising, the U.S. model informed the initial establishment of Drug Treatment Courts in Canada – first in Toronto, and then in Vancouver. And it is this model that has continued as the model for the newly established Courts in Regina, Winnipeg, and Ottawa – but not Edmonton!

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