For a small judicial district like Manitoulin, having its own resident Crown Attorney is a privilege and having a resident officer of the court at this level means that the way justice is rolled out here can be very reflective of the community.
Before Brad Allison was appointed Manitoulin Crown Attorney 15 years ago, this office had been locally vacant for over 30 years with Crowns coming in from Sudbury to prosecute cases here.
Mr. Allison was succeeded by Lorraine Ottley in 1987 who capably held this position until her retirement earlier this year.
Last Friday’s swearing-in of Stacy Haner as Manitoulin’s new Crown Attorney is significant in many ways. Ms. Haner served as Ms. Ottley’s assistant for most of Ms. Ottley’s tenure as Crown Attorney for Manitoulin and so brings to her new office a great deal of experience.
Because she has more than a decade’s on-the-job training for the position she now holds, Ms. Haner has the double advantage of being a young person but one who has already spent a significant portion of her life’s career in acquiring the wisdom that only comes with experience.
An identifiable portion of Ms. Haner’s life in court, both as prosecutor and as she guides her assistants in their prosecutions, will deal with people of First Nations’ ancestry and it is instructive that she had asked Sheshegwaning First Nation Chief Joe Endanawas to offer a prayer as part of last Friday’s formal proceedings.
Instructive in that, as Chief Endanawas explained, Ms. Haner had been a part of the United Chiefs and Councils of Manitoulin (UCCM) Justice Project for several years early in her Manitoulin career.
M’Chigeeng lawyer Susan Hare, who also represents the Law Society of Upper Canada as a bencher, spoke on the need for First Nations people facing convictions to have the opportunity to have a Gladue Report completed on their behalf whereby alternatives to incarceration, where applicable, are examined prior to sentencing.
From Chief Endanawas’ and Ms. Hare’s remarks, there was a clear expectation of Ms. Haner that precisely because of her experience and because of some of the legal interests she has already demonstrated, her administration of the Crown’s office on Manitoulin will be a culturally sensitive one.
This is as it should be and this is certainly an advantage to an area like Manitoulin Island.
Ms. Haner will doubtlessly serve both her office and this interesting judicial district well. Often it will be a challenge but always it will be interesting for her and we wish her well in her career’s new dimension.