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Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould says last year’s Jordan ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada "lit a fire" to speed up the courts process. (Mike dePaul/CBC) They did not see it coming, but they knew that something likely would derail their plans.

More than a year ago, Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould convened a meeting of people engaged in the criminal justice system to hear their views on reform, which included a sober and prescient reflection.

"Extraneous circumstances and events, which are unforeseeable to us today, will hijack the agenda — use them as they can be an effective way to attract and commit public interest," said a summary of the May 2016 discussion obtained through an access-to-information request.

Seven weeks later, the Supreme Court of Canada released its groundbreaking ruling, R v. Jordan, that urged everyone to get serious about reform.

"It lit a fire under me," Wilson-Raybould said in an interview.

The Charter of Rights and Freedoms gives someone charged with an offence the right to have their case tried within a reasonable amount of time and in the drug-related case of Barrett Jordan of Surrey, B.C., it had taken more than four years.

"A culture of complacency towards delay has emerged in the criminal justice system," the high court wrote in a 5-4 ruling that sent a strong message that enough was enough.

The Supreme Court imposed strict limits on the amount of time a case could take to make its way through the system — 18 months in provincial courts and 30 months in superior courts.Those presumptive ceilings were upheld in another ruling last month. Warning cases could be tossed The only remedy for a case that goes on so long is a stay of proceedings, no matter how serious the charge, and a dissenting minority opinion argued the new time limits could […]

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