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judicial; justice; peace; role; system


This paper considers the evolution of justices of the peace in Ontario, from Alan Mewett’s landmark report in 1981 – which was commissioned by the Attorney General – to the present. It explains how an office that, according to Mewett and others, was in a state of neglect and dysfunction at the time has been completely transformed through a process of reform. This process addressed key deficits in the professionalism and independence of the justices, and comprised three key steps: the legislative reforms of 1989, the establishment of remuneration commissions for justices of the peace in the 1990s, and more recent legislative reforms undertaken in 2006. As a result of this process, there is little resemblance between the office that Mewett described and today’s justices of the peace, who have been brought into closer alignment with other judicial officers in the province. The paper also considers the roles justices of the peace play, and comments on their place in the overall scheme of justice in Ontario. The paper was prepared at the request of the Association of Justices of Peace of Ontario, and forms part of its submission to the Sixth Remuneration Commission in the fall of 2013.