This is our story

The Smart Justice Network was formed in June 2011 by people with experience in community safety, crime prevention, victim advocacy, justice and corrections across Canada, who were concerned about the negative impacts, for all Canadians, of proposals for new crime policies and laws.  We wanted to provide accurate information about these matters to Canadians and their political leaders and representatives.  So far, network members have shared this information through  

  • the booklet Open the Doors to Smarter Justice 
  • op eds in leading national media; 
  • a press conference and Dialogue in the Round in the Senate;  
  • regular Smart Justice Network Communiqués emailed upon your request to
  • collaboration with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities in alerting local governments to the impacts of crime policies on municipal costs and quality of life; 
  • pilot projects for public conversations about these issues; 
  • and now a website,

The website focuses on what works to solve the problems of crime rather than simply punishing the criminals, with examples and stories illustrating connections to mental health, addiction, employment, education, housing, social inclusion.

The Arnprior Justice Retreat held in June 2012 gathered some SJN Chairing Group members with additional participants from the fields of academic research, community building, business, philanthropy, public policy and human rights. They shared a profound desire to engage Canadians in earnest discussion of what truly works to generate safer communities, strengthening relationships and the values that matter for us all. They wanted to plan ways and means to encourage communities ready for change to start initiatives building on the successful experiences of others, in collaboration with their local community leaders and governments.

In January 2013, participants from both groups met in Toronto and decided to blend their aspirations and efforts under the umbrella of one overall network, to be known as The Smart Justice Network of Canada. They proposed to look together for strategic opportunities to further and expand the work that has been started by both groups.  Some participants had taken initiative through conference calls and video meetings to launch subcommittees that could collaborate more effectively to determine and carry out next steps. The question of name registration and possible incorporation was explored. A position description for a coordinator was  developed, and we were most fortunate that Linda Markowsky  agreed to do this work, beginning in a volunteer capacity.