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The abrupt collapse of the prosecution of the Sherwood Motel case in provincial court case brought a speedy Guardian editorial published the following day. The writer does not disagree with the title – ‘Justice delayed, justice denied’ – but there is more than justice at play.
Disappointing and somewhat shocking as it may be, the halt of a case of alleged fraud may allow us a pause to consider the interconnectedness of justice with integrity and oversight.
Oversight of immigration programs became a provincial obligation following the downloading of immigration by the Government of Canada to the provinces. Diligent oversight was not paramount in the entrepreneur stream of the PEI-style PNP, where boosting population and prosperity assumed priority. In the Sherwood Motel case, at minimum, keeping tabs on newly landed immigrants might have prevented the Zhongs from ever having been in their compromising situation.
Justice has been put in a poor light. The defendants are not pleased, federal prosecutors are disgraced, and Islanders are left uninformed and feeling foiled once again. Justice would have been better served by a proper CBSA investigation at the outset and sharper preparation of charges and for court appearance. Cavalierly offering permanent resident status upon arrival was an unnecessary and has now become a provocative ‘bonus’, sure to elicit a charter challenge, if needed.
The perceived shortcomings of the trial will not likely have any official accept even partial accountability. With no integrity imminently visible, how can justice and oversight be possible? Who then deserves an apology?