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New justice minister arrives amid bail debate

Arif Virani hopes a fresh set of eyes will help, plans to give ‘marching orders’ to his staff

Canada’s new justice minister says he plans to tell his staff and department to move “expeditiously” on addressing judicial vacancies, an issue that dogged his predecessors.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau picked Arif Virani to replace David Lametti when he unveiled his new cabinet this week, in a shuffle meant to renew the Liberal benches after nearly eight years in government.

Trudeau says he assembled the team to respond to economic headwinds, but the changes come when more Canadians are worrying about crime and a lack of judges affects proceedings in courtrooms across the country.

READ MORE: New Liberal law would make it harder for some repeat violent offenders to get bail

Virani was first elected in the Toronto riding of Parkdale-High Park when the Liberals swept to power in 2015, and went on to serve as parliamentary secretary to both Lametti and his predecessor, Jody Wilson-Raybould.

The issue of judicial vacancies persisted under both, with Supreme Court of Canada Chief Justice Richard Wagner writing a personal warning to Trudeau earlier this year about the need to hurry up the appointment process.

Virani says he hopes bringing a fresh set of eyes to the problem will help, and he plans to give “marching orders” to his staff along with those in the department to move “expeditiously” without comprising the quality of judges.

The Canadian Press

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