Transcript: Doug Downey: Steering Ontario's Justice System | Nov 21, 2019

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a gray suit, white shirt, and spotted brown tie.

A caption on screen reads "Steering Ontario's Justice System. @spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve says IN LAST JUNE'S CABINET
SHUFFLE AT QUEEN'S PARK, ONTARIO
GOT A NEW ATTORNEY GENERAL.
THE JOB NOW BELONGS TO DOUG
DOWNEY.
AND FROM DEALING WITH ISSUES
SUCH AS THE ROLLOUT OF LEGAL
CANNABIS TO LEGAL AID BUDGET
CUTS, HE'S GOT A FULL PLATE
OVERSEEING THE LARGEST
PROVINCIAL JUSTICE SYSTEM IN THE
COUNTRY.
DOUG DOWNEY IS THE PC MEMBER FOR
BARRIE-SPRINGWATER-ORO-MEDONTE,
AND HE JOINS US NOW FOR MORE.

Downey is in his fifties, clean-shaven, with short gray hair. He's wearing a blue suit, white shirt, and striped blue tie.

Steve continues IT'S GOOD TO HAVE YOU BACK IN
THAT CHAIR.

Downey says IT'S GREAT TO BE HERE.

Steve says YOU HAD A DIFFERENT
ROLE LAST TIME YOU WERE HERE.

Downey says EVERY TIME I COME HERE, I GET
A PROMOTION.
WE SHOULD KEEP DOING THIS.

Steve says I'M SURE I HAVE
NOTHING TO DO WITH THAT.
OKAY, JUST YOUR FIRST INTERVIEW
HERE AS AG.
A NICE SOFTBALL OFF THE TOP.
THE JOB FOR LESS THAN SIX
MONTHS, WHAT'S THE HARDEST PART
OF THE JOB?

The caption changes to "Doug Downey. Attorney General of Ontario."
Then, it changes again to "Settling in."

Downey says THE HARDEST PART OF THE JOB?
YOU KNOW, I LOVE IT.
I LOVE EVERY PART OF IT.
I WAKE UP EVERY MORNING AND
THINK ABOUT THINGS THAT I CAN
CHANGE AND FIX AND MOVE ALONG.
I THINK SCHEDULING IS PROBABLY
IT, JUST TRYING TO FIT IT IN.

Downey says I'VE HEARD IT'S AKIN TO
DRINKING WATER OUT OF A FIRE
HOSE.

Downey says VERY MUCH SO.
NON-STOP AND VARIED.

Steve says OKAY, LETS GET INTO A
BURGE OF THEM HERE AS WE GO
LONG.
THE PROVINCE OF ONTARIO LOST 42
MILLION DOLLARS ROLLING OUT ITS NEW
CANNABIS THIS YEAR ON RETAIL.
HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE EXACTLY?

The caption changes to "A hazy cannabis rollout."

Downey says WELL, I JUST... I WANT TO
TALK ABOUT CANNABIS IN GENERAL,
AND BACK IN MY PREVIOUS ROLE AS
PARLIAMENT ASSISTANT FINANCE, I
DID A LOT OF THE RETAIL
CONSULTATION, GOING OUT TO
KINGSTON AND NIAGARA FALLS AND
LONDON, HAMILTON, ALL OVER THE
PLACE, AND GUELPH AND UP NORTH
TALKING ABOUT HOW WE SHOULD DO
RETAIL, WHAT WE SHOULD DO AND
WHAT PEOPLE EXPECT.
IT'S A BRAND NEW INDUSTRY.
IT'S ACTUALLY VERY EXCITING TO
SEE AN INDUSTRY THAT DIDN'T
EXIST BEFORE JUST APPEAR, AND
THEN HAVE US HAVE TO MANAGE IT.
SO THERE ARE A FEW BUMPS ALONG
THE WAY.
GOT TO BE HONEST ABOUT THAT.

Steve says BIGGEST BUMP WAS?

The caption changes to "Doug Downey. PC MPP, Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte."

Downey says I JUST THINK THE SPEED OF IT.
THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT DECIDED
WHEN WE WERE DOING IT AND WE
DECIDED WE WOULD DO THE BEST WE
CAN WITHIN THE TIME FRAME.

Steve says AND YOU DID A VERY DIFFERENT
APPROACH WITH WHAT THE PREVIOUS
LIBERAL GOVERNMENT WANTED TO DO,
LCBO RE-TAILING, YOU GUYS BEING
IN CHARGE OF IT ALL.
YOU GUYS WENT FOR THE PRIVATE
SECTOR APPROACH.

Downey says WHICH I FIRMLY BELIEVE WAS
THE RIGHT THING TO DO.
I WOULDN'T CHANGE IT ONE BIT.
YOU DON'T OFTEN HEAR THIS ABOUT
THE BUREAUCRACY AT QUEEN'S PARK
AND THE EXPERTS THAT ARE WITHIN
THE MINISTRY OF FINANCE OR THE
AG'S OFFICE.
WHEN WE CHANGED DIRECTION, I WAS
SO IMPRESSED WITH THE SENIOR
BUREAUCRACY THAT PIVOTED WITH
US.
WE DIDN'T GET ANY INTERNAL
PUSHBACK.
THERE WAS NO OBSTRUCTION, NONE
OF THAT KIND OF THING THAT
PEOPLE WOULD THINK MIGHT HAPPEN.
SO IT'S GONE JUST AS WELL AS IT
COULD.

Steve says YOU'RE HAPPY ABOUT
THAT, BUT THE FACT IS IN ALBERTA
THEY'VE GOT 13 TIMES MORE
OUTLETS THAN WE DO AND THEY'VE
GOT A THIRD OF OUR POPULATION.
SO HOW COME THEY KIND OF FIGURED
THIS OUT REALLY WELL AND REALLY
QUICKLY AND WE HAVEN'T?

Downey says WE HAD CHOICES TO MAKE.
WE KNEW THERE WAS SHORT SUPPLY
AND IT TOOK A LONG TIME TO GET
THAT REMEDY, AND IT'S ONLY
RECENTLY THE SUPPLY ISSUE HAVE
BEEN DEALT WITH.
WE DIDN'T WANT TO HAVE PEOPLE
OPENING STORES AND NOT GETTING
SUPPLY, AND THAT WAS HAPPENING
IN ALBERTA.

Steve says I WANT TO ASK YOU
ABOUT POLITICIANS AND YOU KNOW I
DON'T HATE POLITICIANS.
I DON'T WANT THIS TO SOUND
PEJORATIVE IN ANY WAY, BUT A LOT
OF THE PEOPLE WHO HAD A LOT OF
THE EXPERIENCE IN THIS BUSINESS
AND ADMITTEDLY MUCH OF IT WAS
ILLICIT HAVE KIND OF GOT SHUT
OUT OF RUNNING BUSINESSES,
WHEREAS A LOT OF THE FORMER
POLITICIANS, FORMER CABINET
MINISTERS, FORMER PREMIERS,
FORMER HEALTH MINISTERS, FORMER
POLICE CHIEFS, FORMER RCMP
COMMISSIONERS, THEY'RE ALL
ENSCONCED IN, YOU KNOW, BOARDS
OF DIRECTORS FOR VERY RICH
COMPANIES.
HOW IS THAT FAIR?

The caption changes to "Doug Downey, @douglasdowney."

Downey says WE STARTED... YOU RAISED A
GOOD POINT, KIND OF WENT QUICKLY
OVER IT.
THE CORE PART OF WHAT WE WERE
DOING IN TERMS OF CANNABIS AND
MANAGEMENT WAS DEALING WITH THE
ILLICIT MARKET.
WE HAVE BEEN VERY CLEAR, THAT'S
OUR NUMBER ONE PRIORITY, DEALING
WITH THE ILLICIT MARKET,
PROTECTING CHILDREN, MAKING SURE
OUR COMMUNITIES ARE SAFE.
EVERYTHING WE'VE DONE IS BUILT
AROUND THAT.
WE WERE VERY CLEAR WITH PEOPLE
OPERATING IN THE ILLICIT MARKET
THAT IF THEY WERE OPEN ON THE
DAY OF OCTOBER 17 THEY WOULD NOT
QUALIFY TO BE IN THE BUSINESS.
AND SOME CHOSE TO IGNORE THAT,
AND THEY'RE NOT IN THE BUSINESS.

The caption changes to "Connect with us: Twitter: @theagenda; Facebook, agendaconnect@tvo.org, Instagram."

Steve says BUT THEY'VE GOT THE
EXPERTISE, AND THAT'S ONE THING
THAT'S MISSING, WE HEAR THAT'S
ONE THING THAT WE NEED MORE OF
IN THIS PROVINCE ON THIS ISSUE
RIGHT NOW.

Downey says THERE'S A VERY COOL PROGRAM
AT DURHAM COLLEGE, NIAGARA
COLLEGE HAS IT DOWN IN NIAGARA
FALLS THAT ARE ACTUALLY
EDUCATING PEOPLE ON THE HISTORY
OF CANNABIS AND ALL THE
TECHNICAL THINGS AROUND IT.
THERE'S EXPERTISE OUT THERE.

Steve says HAVE YOU MANAGED TO
PUT A DENT IN THE BLACK MARKET?

Downey says I BELIEVE WE HAVE.

Steve says NOT MUCH, FROM WHAT I HEAR.
I HEAR... I HEAR 80 percent OF THE
CANNABIS BEING SOLD IN THE
PROVINCE OF ONTARIO IS STILL ON
THE ILLICIT MARKET.

Downey says WE NEED TO GET OUT TO WHERE
THE PEOPLE ARE.
WE KNOW THAT.
IT'S BEEN A YEAR.
WE NEED TO GET OUT THERE MORE.

Steve says I KNOW YOU'RE NOT THE
LAW ENFORCEMENT GUY.
YOU'RE THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, BUT
STILL, IT'S NOT HAPPENING, IS IT?

Downey says WELL, WE'VE GIVEN THE
MUNICIPALITIES TOOLS TO CLOSE
DOWN STORE FRONTS, AND THEY'VE
BEEN DOING THAT.
THE CLOSURE RATE IS ACTUALLY
QUITE HIGH.
BUT WE KNOW WE STILL HAVE A
CHALLENGE, BUT WE ARE MAKING
PROGRESS INTO THE MARKET.
WE KNEW WE WEREN'T GOING TO GET
THERE JOEMPT, BUT AGAIN,
EVERYTHING WE DO IS TO GO AFTER
THE ILLICIT MARKET, PROTECT THE
KIDS AND PROTECT THE
COMMUNITIES, AND THAT'S
HAPPENING, BUT WE NEED MORE
STORES TO MAKE THAT HAPPEN.

Steve says WELL, AND THAT RAISES
THE NEXT QUESTION, WHICH IS
YOU'VE GONE TO A LOTTERY SYSTEM,
WHICH IS ESSENTIALLY THOUSANDS
OF PEOPLE PUT THEIR NAME IN A
HAT AND YOU GUYS PICK THEM OUT.
THE CRITICISM IS THAT IS A VERY
SLOW WAY TO DO BUSINESS AND THE
FACT THAT WE HAVE SO FEW RETAIL
OUTLETS RIGHT NOW SUGGEST THOSE
CRITICISMS MIGHT BE ACCURATE.
ARE YOU STICKING WITH THE
LOTTERY SYSTEM?

Downey says WHAT I CAN TELL YOU IS WHAT
WE'VE BEEN SAYING FROM THE
BEGINNING.
THE FASTER WE CAN GET TO OPEN
MARKET, THE BETTER.
AND SO WE ARE COMMITTED TO DOING
THAT.
THAT'S WHERE OUR FOCUS IS.

Steve says BUT DOES THAT MEAN
YOU'RE STAYING WITH THE LOTTERY
SYSTEM.

Downey says WE HAVE THE LOTTERY SYSTEM
THAT JUST HAPPENED, SO WE'RE
FOLLOWING THROUGH WITH THE
PEOPLE WHO... AND WHEN THEY WON
THE LOTTERY, ALL THEY DID WAS
WIN THE OPPORTUNITY TO APPLY.

Steve says RIGHT.

Downey says SO THERE'S A MULTI-STEP
PROCESS.
WE'RE WORKING WITH THEM AT THE
MOMENT AND TRYING TO GET TO OPEN
ALLOCATION AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

Steve says BECAUSE OBVIOUSLY
ALBERTA SENT IN THE TORPEDO,
COME ON IN AND OPEN UP, AND
THEY'RE SERVING THEIR CLIENTS
BETTER APPARENTLY.

Downey says ISN'T THAT ONE OF THE GREAT
THINGS ABOUT CANADA, YOU CAN
DIFFERENT EXPERIMENTS ACROSS THE
COUNTRY AND ADOPT BEST
PRACTICES.

Steve says YOU'VE MADE SOME NEWS
IN THE LAST FEW DAYS ABOUT THE
WAY YOU WANT JUDGES APPOINTED IN
THE FUTURE IN THIS PROVINCE, AND
I WANT TO ASK A VERY NEUTRAL
LEAN OPEN-ENDED QUESTION TO
START WITH.
DO YOU THINK WE HAVE A
RESPECTED, COMPETENT JUDICIARY
IN THE PROVINCE OF ONTARIO?

The caption changes to "Appointing judges."

Downey says WE HAVE AN EXCELLENT
JUDICIARY AT THE SUPERIOR COURT
AND AT THE COURT OF APPEAL AND
AT THE ONTARIO COURT.

Steve says IN WHICH CASE, WHY IS
THERE A NEED TO CHANGE THE WAY
JUDGES ARE APPOINTED?

Downey says I THINK IT'S SLOW.
IT'S OUTDATED.
IT'S NOT RESPONDING THE WAY THAT
PEOPLE WOULD EXPECT IT TO.
THERE ARE SOME CHALLENGES ONCE
YOU GET INTO THE NUTS AND BOLTS
OF HOW IT'S WORKING.
AND I CAN GIVE YOU SOME
EXAMPLES.
REALLY WE CAN DO BETTER AND WE
CAN DO IT WITHOUT AFFECTING THE
HIGH INTEGRITY LEVEL OF THE
PROCESS.

Steve says WELL, FROM WHAT I
UNDERSTAND THERE'S AN EXPERT
PANEL AND YOU APPOINT SOME
PEOPLE TO IT AND THERE ARE
PEOPLE FROM THE LAW PROFESSION
WHO ARE ON IT, AND THAT PANEL
LOOKS AT POTENTIAL JUDGES AND
VETS THEM THOROUGHLY AND THEN
PRESENTS NAMES TO YOU AND YOU
AND THE PREMIER, I GATHER... I
GUESS AT THAT POINT DECIDE.
WHAT'S WRONG WITH THAT?

Downey says WELL, LET'S GO TO... YOU'RE
MOSTLY RIGHT.
TO BE FAIR TO THE PREMIER, HE
DOESN'T SEE THE NAMES.
I PUT NAMES FORWARD TO CABINET.
THAT'S THE FIRST THAT THEY WILL
SEE THEM.
THEY DON'T KNOW WHO I DIDN'T PUT
FORWARD, SO THERE'S NONE OF
THAT.
AND I TAKE THAT RESPONSIBILITY
VERY SERIOUSLY.
THE COMMITTEE THAT WE HAVE, IT'S
CALLED THE JUDICIAL ADVISORY
COMMITTEE, AND THERE'S ONE FOR
JUSTICES OF THE PEACE AS WELL.
THEY ARE SEPARATE COMMITTEES.
THEY VET AND THEY SEND ME IN THE
COURSE OF JUDGES TWO NAMES.
SO I DON'T KNOW WHO'S APPLIED.
I DON'T KNOW WHO GOT
INTERVIEWED, AND I DON'T KNOW
VERY MUCH EXCEPT THESE TWO NAMES
THAT I GET.
I THINK IT CREATES CHALLENGES
FOR US IN TERMS OF GETTING
DIVERSITY ON THE BENCH, KNOWING
WHO'S APPLYING, WHO'S NOT
APPLYING.
BECAUSE I'M HEARING FROM PEOPLE
SAYING I GAVE UP ON THAT SYSTEM,
I'M NOT APPLYING ANYMORE.
BUT THE KEY THINGS ABOUT THE
INTEGRITY OF THE SYSTEM AND THE
COMMITTEE THAT WE HAVE FEDERALLY
THERE'S A COMMITTEE, BUT THEY
DON'T INTERVIEW PEOPLE AND THEY
DON'T ACTUALLY EXIST IN TERMS OF
REGULATION OR STATUTE.
IF I WAS TO DO IT, I WOULD PUT
THE COMMITTEE RIGHT IN THE
STATUTE SO THAT IT EXISTS AS AN
INDEPENDENT THIRD PARTY, EVEN
THOUGH WE WOULD APPOINT SOME
PEOPLE TO IT, THERE ARE JUDGES
ON IT AND OTHERS, I WOULD PUT
THAT RIGHT IN THE LEGISLATION.

The caption changes to "Watch us anytime: tvo.org, Twitter: @theagenda, Facebook Live, YouTube."

Steve says I GATHER ONE OF THE
REASONS THAT IT'S BEEN THE WAY
IT'S BEEN IS THAT THEY WANT TO
KEEP THE POLITICS OUT OF IT AS
MUCH AS POSSIBLE.
THIS PANEL WANTS TO KEEP IT AND
THE FEAR I GUESS IS YOU MAY NOT
BE A VERY PARTISAN ATTORNEY
GENERAL, BUT MAYBE SOME OF YOUR
PREDECESSORS HAVE BEEN AND MAYBE
SOME OF YOUR SUCCESSORS WILL BE,
AND IF THE IDEA IS TO KEEP THE
PARTISAN POLITICS OUT OF IT,
MAYBE THE STATUS QUO IS THE WAY
TO GO?
I DON'T KNOW.
I'M ASKING.

Downey says YEAH, WHAT I WOULD PROPOSE TO DO IS MOVE FROM THE SYSTEM THAT
EXISTS TO GIVE ME TWO NAMES THAT
TAKES UP TO A YEAR TO FIND AND
RECOMMEND THOSE TWO NAMES TO A
POOL SYSTEM SO THAT THE
COMMITTEE IS DECIDING WHO'S
QUALIFIED AND NOT QUALIFIED.
AND THE MOST THAT I WOULD GET TO
DO IS SAY YOU SAID THIS PERSON
ISN'T QUALIFIED, CAN YOU TAKE A
SECOND LOOK.
JUST ON THE OFF CHANCE THAT
THERE'S AN OVERSIGHT OR A
MISTAKE.

Steve says WHO DO YOU WANT IN THE
PIPELINE THAT'S NOW NOT IN THE
PIPELINE OF POTENTIAL JUDGES I
GUESS IS THE QUESTION.

Downey says PART OF MY CHALLENGE IS I
HAVE NO IDEA WHO'S IN THE
PIPELINE.
BECAUSE I CAN'T TELL YOU IF
THERE'S DIVERSITY APPLYING TO
THE BENCH.
I DON'T KNOW IF WE HAVE THE
RIGHT CANDIDATES APPLYING
BECAUSE I DON'T HAVE ANY LINE OF
SIGHT TO ANYTHING EXCEPT TWO
NAMES AT A TIME.

Steve says I DON'T KNOW IF YOU
SAW THIS QUOTE, SO I'M GOING TO
READ IT TO YOU NOW.
PETER RUSSELL, UNIVERSITY OF
TORONTO POLITICAL SCIENTIST,
PROFESSOR OF LONG STANDING AND
HIGH REPUTATION SAYS, YOU KNOW,
HELPED DESIGN THE CURRENT SYSTEM
Downey says THE PROCESS IS MEANT TO
PREVENT THE PLITIZATION OF
JUDGES AND HE SAYS YOUR
PROPOSALS WOULD DO THE OPPOSITE.
HIS RESPONSE TO YOUR PROPOSAL
WAS THAT'S BAD NEWS THEY WANT A
BUNCH OF NAMES SO THEY CAN LOOK
DOWN AND FIND A NICE SOULMATE
SORRY.

Downey says YOU KNOW, HE IS SO RESPECTED,
AND I TALKED TO FORMER ATTORNEYS
GENERAL AND I'VE TALKED TO BOTH
FEDERAL AND PROVINCIAL.
YOU KNOW, THERE ARE TWO PARTS TO
THE APPOINTMENT OF JUDGES.
ONE IS TO DECIDE WHETHER THEY'RE
QUALIFIED OR NOT QUALIFIED, AND
THAT'S REALLY IMPORTANT.
BUT THE SECOND PART IS FOR ME TO
PICK PEOPLE WHO, YOU KNOW,
REFLECT SOME OF THE VALUES THAT
I HAVE, AND I WANT TO PUT SOME
OF THOSE IN THE REGULATIONS SO
PEOPLE UNDERSTAND.
YOU KNOW, UNDERSTANDING VICTIMS
ISSUES, MAKING SURE THAT THEY
HAVE COMMUNITY LEADERSHIP,
MAKING SURE THAT THOSE PIECES
ARE THERE.
AND SOMETIMES ONLY I CAN ASSESS
THAT, AND I DON'T KNOW WHY AS
ATTORNEY GENERAL I'M ALLOWED TO
DO A TON OF THINGS BUT I'M NOT
ALLOWED TO PICK FROM A BIGGER
POOL OF PEOPLE WHO A THIRD-PARTY
COMMITTEE SAY ARE QUALIFIED.

Steve says OKAY, FOLLOW-UP
QUESTION.
DO YOU INTEND TO CONSULT THE
LEGAL PROFESSION ON THE CHANGES
YOU INTEND TO MAKE TO YOUR
SELECTION PROCESS?

Downey says ABSOLUTELY.
ABSOLUTELY.
I MEAN, I'M FROM THE LEGAL
PROFESSION.
I SPENT YEARS ON THE EXECUTIVE
WITH THE OBA.
SOME OTHER GROUPS WERE IN TOUCH
WITH ME AND WE'RE GOING TO SIT
DOWN WITH THEM AND HAVE THAT
CONVERSATION.
ONE IS BEYOND WHAT I HAVE
ALREADY TALKED TO.
ONTARIO BAR ASSOCIATION, THE
FEDERATION OF ONTARIO LAW
ASSOCIATION, THE LAW SOCIETY,
TORONTO LAWYERS ASSOCIATION, ALL
SORTS OF DIFFERENT GROUPS.

Steve says WHAT ABOUT THE JUDGES
THEMSELVES?
LIKE, WOULD YOU CONSULT WITH THE
CHIEF JUSTICE OF ONTARIO ON
THIS?

Downey says I ABSOLUTELY HAVE SEVERAL
TIMES, AND MY STAFF HAVE DONE
BRIEFINGS.
I DON'T WANT TO GIVE THE CONTENT
OF THE DISCUSSION, BUT I HAD A
MEETING WITH THE ONTARIO CHIEF
JUSTICE MONDAY MORNING AND THEN
TUESDAY AFTERNOON I HAD A
MEETING WITH CHIEF JUSTICE MOR
WITS AND... AT THE SAME TIME.

Steve says OKAY, ONE LAST THING
ON THIS.
OKAY, WE ALL REMEMBER PRETTY
WELL A YEAR AND A HALF AGO WHEN
PREMIER FORD DECIDED THAT HE
WANTED TO CUT TORONTO CITY
COUNCIL IN HALF AND HE GOT A
DECISION FROM A JUDGE THAT HE
DIDN'T LIKE AND HE SAID I'M
GOING TO USE THE NOTWITHSTANDING
CLAUSE OF THE CONSTITUTION TO
OVERRIDE THIS UNELECTED JUDGE'S
DECISIONS BECAUSE I DON'T LIKE
HIM.
THERE WAS A GREAT DEAL OF
CONTROVERSY ABOUT THE FACT THAT
POTENTIALLY FOR THE FIRST TIME
EVER AN ONTARIO GOVERNMENT WOULD
USE THE NOTWITHSTANDING CLAUSE
TO OVERRIDE CHARTER RIGHTS.
AND NOW THAT YOU'RE THE ATTORNEY
GENERAL AND THE NUMBER ONE LAW
GUY IN THE PROVINCE, I'M KIND OF
CURIOUS AS TO WHAT YOU THINK
ABOUT THAT APPROACH.

Downey says WELL, I'M ACTUALLY IN HANSARD ON IT.
I GAVE A BACK AND FORTH WITH
JOHN FRASER, WITH THE LIBERALS,
AND DISCUSSION.
AND BASICALLY IT BOILS DOWN TO
THIS.
THE CHARTER IS A LIVING TREE,
RIGHT?
WE ALL KNOW THE LIVING TREE
DOCTRINE THAT THE CHARTER
EVOLVES OVER TIME.
SECTION 33 IS IN THE CHARTER, SO
IT DOESN'T STAND ALONE.
AND I THINK YOU WOULD HAVE TO
LOOK AT EVERY SITUATION UKELY.

Steve says SO EUROVIEW IS IT'S
THERE TO BE USED AND YOU INTEND
TO USE IT?

Downey says NO, MY VIEW IS YOU HAVE TO
EVALUATE IT.
YOU CAN'T EXCLUDE IT FROM THE
EVALUATION.

Steve says WOULD YOU HAVE ADVISED
PREMIER FORD TO USE IT TO
OVERRIDE A COURT DECISION?

Downey says GOOD POLITICS IS...

Steve says BUT IT MAKES FOR A
MUCH LESS FUN CONVERSATION.
OKAY, MOVING ON.
LET'S TALK LEGAL AID.
YOUR GOVERNMENT CUT FUNDING TO
LEGAL AID ONTARIO BY 30 percent LAST
YEAR.
THAT'S 133 MILLION DOLLARS LESS.
HOW COME?

The caption changes to "Less legal aid."

Downey says THE WHOLE CONVERSATION WITH
LEGAL AID GOES BACK TO THE
AUDITOR GENERAL, AND SHE FLAGGED
SEVERAL ISSUES THAT WERE
HAPPENING IN LEGAL AID.
AND ACTUALLY, IF I CAN BACK UP A
LITTLE BIT, I'M NOT SURE THAT
EVERYBODY UNDERSTANDS WHAT LEGAL AID IS.
CAN WE MAYBE LAY A BASE FOR THAT.

Steve says PLEASE.

Downey says SO LEGAL AID PROVIDES
SERVICES FOR INDIVIDUALS WHO ARE
BELOW AN INCOME THRESHOLD.
AND SO BY AND LARGE VULNERABLE
PEOPLE, PEOPLE IN VULNERABLE
SITUATIONS.
THERE ARE THREE STREAMS.
ONE IS THE ONE MOST PEOPLE ARE
FAMILIAR WITH, WHICH IS THE
CLINICS, LEGAL CLINICS, AND THAT
IS THE STREAM NUMBER ONE.
NUMBER TWO ARE WHAT ARE CALLED
DUTY COUNSELS, GOVERNMENT PAID
LAWYERS IN COURTHOUSES AND
SOMETIMES JAILS WHO HELP
INDIVIDUALS ON THE DAY OF OR
THROUGH A PARTICULAR PART OF THE
PROCESS.
AND THEN THE THIRD PART IS LEGAL
AID CERTIFICATES.
SO THESE ARE CERTIFICATES GIVEN
TO PRIVATE LAWYERS TO DO WORK
FOR INDIVIDUALS WHO QUALIFY.

Steve says AND THEY ARE WORTH
MONEY.

Downey says ABSOLUTELY.
THEY HELP THE FAMILY LAW,
CRIMINAL LAW, THAT KIND OF
THING.
SO THOSE THREE ARE OUT THERE,
AND THE AUDITOR GENERAL CAME
ALONG AND SAID THERE ARE SEVERAL
PROBLEMS WITH THE WAY THE SYSTEM
IS WORKING.
SO WE INITIATED A REVIEW, AND IN
FACT WE'VE BEEN DOING TWO
REVIEWS, LEGAL AID ONTARIO, AND
WE'RE SO LUCKY THAT CHARLES
HARNICK WHO WAS THE ATTORNEY
GENERAL WHEN IT WAS CREATED IS
THE CHAIR OF LEGAL AID NOW.
SO THERE'S SOME REAL SYNERGY IN
WHAT WE MEANT IN THE FIRST PLACE
AND HOW IT'S WORKING NOW.
THEY DID A REVIEW.
I'VE DONE SOME INDEPENDENT
REVIEW MYSELF VISITING CLINICS.
I'VE TALKED TO OVER A THIRD OF
THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTORS, OR
VISITED THEM, TO UNDERSTAND
WHAT'S ACTUALLY HAPPENING ON THE
GROUND.

Steve says AND?

Downey says AND THERE ARE WAYS WE CAN DO
THINGS BETTER.
WE CAN MODERNIZE THE SYSTEM.
IT'S A LITTLE BIT CLUNKY, AND I
THINK THROUGH SEVERAL
CONVERSATIONS WE'RE GOING TO
LAND ON A SPOT THAT PEOPLE ARE
GOING TO BE PRETTY HAPPY.

Steve says IS IT YOUR VIEW THAT
TOO MANY CERTIFICATES ARE GOING
OUT TO TOO MANY PRIVATE LAWYERS
TO PAY FOR TOO MANY CASES?

Downey says NO, MY ISSUE IS THAT THERE'S
NOT ENOUGH TRACKING OF THE
QUALITY OF SERVICES, WHICH IS
EXACTLY WHAT THE AUDITOR GENERAL
SAID, THAT THERE'S NO LOOPBACK
TO ACTUALLY UNDERSTAND WHETHER
THAT'S HAPPENING.
BUT ONE OTHER PIECE THAT WE CAN
DO AND PEOPLE DON'T INTUITIVELY
COME TO IT, WE CAN TAKE COSTS
OUT OF THE SYSTEM.
AND THE ONE THING SHE FLAGGED
WAS SOCIAL BENEFITS TRIBUNAL,
WHICH IS SOMEBODY APPLYING FOR
ODSP, DISABILITY SUPPORT.
35 percent OF THE CLINICS' WORK IS
HELPING WITH THOSE APPEALS
BECAUSE PEOPLE GO IN, THEY GET
TOLD NO, THEN THERE'S AN APPEAL.
WE'RE PAYING THE CLINICS, THE
TRIBUNAL, WE'RE PAYING ALL THESE
THINGS, AND 60 TO 80 percent OF THE
TIME THEY ARE SUCCESSFUL ON THE
APPEAL.
IF WE CAN SOLVE THAT, WE CAN
TAKE THE COSTS RIGHT OUT OF THE
SYSTEM AND LEAVE MORE ON THE
TABLE.

Steve says YOU MENTIONED A FEW
MOMENTS AGO WE WERE TALKING
ABOUT THE APPOINTMENT OF JUDGES
THAT YOU HAVE TALKED TO THE
CHIEF JUSTICE OF THE ONTARIO
COURT OF APPEAL, GEORGE STRAFY,
WHO LIKE MOST CHIEF JUSTICES
RARELY, RARELY COMMENTS PUBLICLY
ON GOVERNMENT POLICY.
BUT HE DID IN THIS CASE.
AND HE SAID THAT YOUR CHANGES ON
LEGAL AID WILL INCREASE TRIAL
TIMES, WILL PLACE GREATER
DEMANDS ON PUBLIC SERVICES AND
ULTIMATELY WILL DELAY AND
INCREASE THE COST OF LEGAL
PROCEEDINGS FOR EVERYONE.
CAN YOU RESPOND TO THAT?

Downey says I BELIEVE THAT WAS FROM THE
OPENING OF THE COURTS, WHICH IS
SOMETIMES WHERE THE JUDGES HAVE
A BIT MORE LICENSE TO GIVE
VISIONARY STATEMENTS.
AND THIS HAS BEEN AN
INTERPROCESS WORKING WITH LEGAL
AID TO MAKE SURE THAT THE
SERVICES ARE BEING DELIVERED,
AND WE'VE SEEN AS RECENTLY AS
THIS MONDAY WHERE WE HAVE
TWEAKED SOME OF THE SERVICES TO
MAKE SURE THAT IN FAMILY LAW
THINGS ARE HAPPENING THAT IN THE
INITIAL CHANGE WEREN'T
HAPPENING.
SO WE'RE TWEAKING THINGS AS WE
GO, AND IT'S CONSTANT
CONVERSATION WITH THE CHIEF
JUSTICES.

Steve says BUT I DON'T THINK HE
SAID IT AS A COMPLIMENT.
I THINK HE SAID IT THAT THE
CHANGES AND THE CUTS THAT YOU
ARE ADVANCING ARE GOING TO DO
HARM TO THE VULNERABLE PEOPLE
THAT YOU PURPORT TO WANT TO DO
RIGHT BY.
IS HE WRONG?

Downey says SO I THINK IN THE INITIAL
CHANGES THAT THERE WAS SOME FEAR
THAT THAT MAY BE THE CASE.
GOING BACK AND HAVING THE
CONVERSATIONS AND CHANGING HOW
WE'RE DOING THINGS SUBSEQUENT TO
THAT COMMENT IS HELPING TO
ALLEVIATE SOME OF THE CONCERN.

Steve says I KNOW THE PREMIER OF
ONTARIO HAS A BIG HEART BECAUSE
I KNOW...

Downey says HUGE HEART.

Steve says I KNOW EVERY CABINET
MINISTER I TALK TO ABOUT THIS
GUY, EVEN THE GUYS WHO DON'T
LIKE HIM SAY, YOU KNOW, I GOT TO
ADMIT, HE'S GOT A BIG HEART.
HE REALLY WANTS TO HELP PEOPLE.
AND I KNOW THAT PROBABLY
PROMPTED HIS STATEMENT ONE DAY
IN WHICH HE SAID: ANYBODY WHO
NEEDS LEGAL AID, CALL MY OFFICE
AND I'LL MAKE SURE YOU GET IT.
OKAY, BUT IN THE WORLD OF
REALITY, YOU DO KNOW THAT
DOESN'T HAPPEN, RIGHT?

Downey says PEOPLE CALL HIM, AND HE
RETURNS THE CALL.

Steve says BUT IF THEY... JUST
BECAUSE THEY CALL HIM AND ASK
FOR LEGAL AID DOESN'T MEAN THEIR
GETTING IT?

Downey says NO, BUT WE IDENTIFY THE
PROBLEMS AND WE IDENTIFY WHY
THEY'RE NOT GETTING IT.
SO THE MORE WE TALK TO PEOPLE
WHO ARE TRYING TO ACCESS THE
SYSTEM, THE BETTER WE CAN DESIGN
THE SYSTEM TO BE RESPONSIVE.
AND WE... I GET CALLS.
HE GETS CALLS.
HONESTLY, I ENCOURAGE PEOPLE TO
CONTACT THE GOVERNMENT THROUGH
THEIR LOCAL MPP OR WHATNOT.
I WANT TO HEAR IT.
THAT'S WHY I'M OUT TALKING TO
CLINICS AND PEOPLE DOING THE
WORK.
THEY FLAG THINGS I'M NOT GOING
TO HEAR OTHERWISE.

Steve says COULD YOU GIVE ME AN
EXAMPLE?

Downey says ABSOLUTELY.
SOME CLINICS HAVE MENTAL HEALTH
WORKERS AS PART OF THEIR STAFF.
AND YOU WOULD THINK WHY.
WELL, SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO DEAL
WITH PEOPLE'S BIGGER IMMEDIATE
CHALLENGES BEFORE YOU CAN HELP
THEM WITH THEIR OTHER
CHALLENGES.
AND SO SOME HAVE THAT MODEL.
OTHER CLINICS HAVE SOCIAL
WORKERS ON STAFF.
SO THEY'VE EACH DESIGNED A
LITTLE BIT DIFFERENTLY TO MEET
THE NEEDS OF THEIR COMMUNITY,
AND YOU JUST WOULDN'T KNOW THAT
ON READING IT ON PAPER.

Steve says OKAY, BUT GIVEN HOW
MUCH OF A PRIORITY REDUCING THE
DEFICIT, BALANCING THE BUDGET,
YOUR GOVERNMENT HAS MADE, WOULD
IT BE UNFAIR TO SAY THAT PART OF
YOUR MANDATE AS ATTORNEY GENERAL
IS TO FIND SAVINGS IN THAT
DEPARTMENT AND SO YOU CAN SPEND LESS?

Downey says I THINK THE MANDATE IS TO BE
EFFICIENT, AND TO MAKE SURE THAT
WHAT YOU'RE SPENDING IS
MEANINGFUL AND IS HAVING THE
EFFECT THAT YOU WANT IT TO.
WHEN THE AUDITOR GENERAL COMES
OUT AND SAYS HERE ARE ALL THESE
PROBLEMS HAPPENING, YOU KNOW
SOMETHING HAS TO BE DONE.

Steve says DO YOU EVER GET
WORRIED WHEN YOUR HEAD HITS THE
PILLOW AT THE END OF THE DAY
THAT YOU MIGHT BE MAKING A CUT
THAT MIGHT ACTUALLY DEPRIVE
SOMEBODY OF THE JUSTICE THAT
THEY ARE ENTITLED TO IN THIS
PROVINCE?

Downey says IT IS CRITICAL TO ME, IT IS
ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL THAT PEOPLE
ARE GETTING THE SERVICE FROM A
SYSTEM THE WAY THEY EXPECT IT
TO, AND THAT WE ARE NOT
RE-VICTIMIZING PEOPLE.
WE HAVE... VQRP IS A VICTIM
RESPONSE PROGRAM WE'VE ROLLED
OUT.
IT'S THE RESULT OF MAKING SURE
THAT WE'RE HELPS VICTIMS WHEN
THEY NEED IT, IMMEDIATELY AFTER
A VIOLENT INCIDENT.
THERE ARE SEVERAL THINGS WE'RE
DOING TO DO THAT, BUT TO ANSWER
YOUR QUESTION, DO I WORRY ABOUT
IT WHEN I GO TO BED AT NIGHT?
I NEVER MAKE A DECISION JUST
ONCE.
YOU MAKE A DECISION, YOU TALK TO
PEOPLE, YOU TALK TO THE PEOPLE
WHO WILL BE AFFECTED, YOU TALK
TO THE PEOPLE WHO WILL DELIVER
THE SERVICE, AND THEN YOU GO IS
THAT REALLY WHAT WE WANT TO DO.

The caption changes to "Producer: Harrison Lowman, @harrisonlowman."

Steve says THAT'S ONTARIO'S
ATTORNEY GENERAL, DOUG DOWNEY,
WHO IS ALSO THE PC MEMBER FOR
BARRIE-SPRINGWATER-ORO-MEDONTE.
AND WE'LL SEE WHAT PORTFOLIO YOU
HAVE WHEN YOU COME HERE NEXT.

The caption changes to "Subscribe to The Agenda Podcast: tvo.org/theagenda."

Downey says THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

Steve says THANK YOU, DOUG DOWNEY.

Watch: Doug Downey: Steering Ontario's Justice System