Reilly declares Liberal candidacy
By: Tanya Foubert
| Posted: Friday, Mar 25, 2011 04:13 pm
Former provincial court judge John Reilly has officially announced he will be the Liberal Party candidate for Wild Rose in the upcoming federal election.
The Conservative government made history Friday (March 25) after being the first ever defeated for being in contempt of parliament.
That means Canadians will be heading to the polls at the beginning of May and the outspoken Reilly will challenge incumbent Conservative MP Blake Richards.
Reilly said the decision to step away from the bench and into politics is a recent one and a result of his anger over the government’s crime and justice agenda.
“I am disgusted by the Conservative government and what they call criminal justice initiatives,” he said. “I think they are criminal, not justice.”
He said Stephen Harper Conservatives proposed crime legislation will result in thousands of people being incarcerated who should not be, cost billions and do more harm than good for Canadians.
As a judge for 35 years, he said he has watched the circus of the criminal justice system, but until now has been unable to speak out.
“I have been wanting to say things that I am not supposed to say for the last 15 years,” he said. “There are people who need to be locked up… but the vast majority of people who appeared before me as accused people are disadvantaged.”
He said having support and programs for the disadvantaged to address the underlying issues that result in criminal behaviour is a better use of resources than putting everyone in jail.
It is a message that echoes his recently published bestseller Bad Medicine: A Judge’s Struggle for Justice in a First Nations Community.
In the book Reilly details his experiences as a judge trying to address the crippling social problems in Morley, which resulted in a disproportionate number of aboriginal offenders showing up in his courtroom.
He said the timing of the book release and the election couldn’t have been planned better.
“It has been a very humbling experience to have so many people so interested in what I am saying,” he said.
The 64-year-old will challenge Richards in a riding that has voted Conservative or Reform since its formation in 1988. In the last election Richards, who was running for the first time after Myron Thompson retired, won the election with 72.6 per cent of the vote in the riding.
Reilly said he acknowledges his chances are slim.
“It is a Conservative riding in a province where Liberal is a bad word,” he said. “I want to challenge the Conservative supporters to think about the issues.
“The Liberals have had embarrassing scandals but lying to parliament goes against everything. They have tried to sneak these issues by us by misrepresenting how much they will cost.”