First we must dispel any myth that grand juries are an American creation.
In truth they originated with British common law and were the ultimate
means for citizens to protect themselves from abuses by agents of the
Crown, and also a means to scrutinize the many activities of the Crown
enacted on behalf of the people.
Unlike the common perception gleaned from American TV, grand juries
serve the people in three important ways. Firstly, they can investigate
government agencies, boards, commissions or other subordinate bodies of
parliament and not only render decisions upon their actions, but also
compel compliance. Secondly, this same authority can be exercised over
both the political and bureaucratic arms of government. Lastly, grand
juries can also act and initiate indictments where the Crown is fearful
of proceeding with criminal charges against individuals or corporations.
With the recent litany of Ontario scandals, spending abuses and issues
the government is loathe to resolve, it is clear our government is
increasingly acting in a manner that is contrary to public expectation.
The e-Health and OLG spending scandals, the G-20 fiasco, as well as the
HST and Eco-Tax grab, are clear examples of the need for public
People clearly need a mechanism to hold government and its officials to
account and indict those who have acted contrary to the law. Grand
juries can serve this purpose, and rejuvenate people's participation in
It is without argument that individual citizens are the predominate
authority in any democratic country, and all other authority is derived
from the will and consent of the electors. It is also without argument
that the trend in Ontario and indeed throughout Canada is that our
democracy is increasingly being weakened by apathy, distrust,
complacency, and ignorance. Grand juries are a practical, effective and
proven method of restoring the people's fundamental authority. Making
ordinary citizens a part of the process will help reverse these alarming