Here’s a bit of follow-up to the comments of Justice Minister Peter Mackay I wrote about yesterday. It didn’t take very long for The Toronto Star to find some people who strongly disagree, not only with MacKay’s tone, but also with his facts.
Avvy Yao-Yao Go an Ontario lawyer, recently appointed to the Order of Ontario, was furious.
Go, a director at the Metro Toronto Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic and a practicing lawyer for the past 23 years, says it’s not true. She knows “worthy” candidates who have applied, and so has she.
Go submitted her name for a federal judicial appointment two years ago and again this year. She was worried by cuts to legal aid that might threaten her own job, and on another level, she says she believed it is up to visible minority lawyers to throw their hats in the ring.
But Go, who was recently named to the Order of Ontario, heard nothing back except that her application would be held “in the system” for two years. She suspects her past criticism at parliamentary committees of the Conservative government’s policies on immigration, refugees and poverty reduction mean she has no chance of an appointment.
She may not have met The CPC’s criteria, but she is certainly a woman and an ethic minority lawyer who applied.
After being confronted, MacKay claimed that his purpose in making his statements was to encourage more women to apply.
Lai-King Hum, president of the Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers, said MacKay’s stance is “shocking,” especially since she formally wrote him and his office about the issue last month.
Neither MacKay, his office, nor the commission for federal judicial affairs ever responded to the Federation’s concerns, Hum said Thursday.
University of Ottawa law professor Rosemary Cairns-Wayis another person who has put facts in the way of MacKay’s statements, claiming a “pattern of deliberate disregard” for diversity.
Cairns-Way told a symposium in Ottawa last month that she looked at 107 federal judicial appointments between April 2012 and May 2014, of which she said 90 were white. She could not reach a conclusion on the racial background of 16 and just one was a “racialized person.”
By combining her data and information in a report in the Globe and Mail two years ago, she said she concluded just three of 191 federal judicial appointments in the past five years across Canada were non-white judges.
In addition, fewer than ⅓ of the judges in the federal system are women, while, in Ontario at least, almost 40% of lawyers are female. The same document reports that 12% of Ontario lawyers are non-white. According to the latest census, approximately 17% of Canadians identify as non-white and non-first nations.
Since the increase in women and minorities is relatively recent, it is possible that there isn’t a large pool to draw from to serve on the bench. However, Mackay’s comments betray a very white male-centric view of how the courts should be comprised.
Comments like this are asking for a good take-down, and satirical site The Beaverton obliges.
“I feel like it would be dangerous to have a woman deliver rulings during her moon blood time,” MacKay said after he commented on how women have a closer bond with children and therefore are less likely to become judges. “These rulings would be hysterical and mind-boggling. It’s a well established fact that women are more emotional creatures and therefore not trustworthy during this time of the month.”
The Justice Minister then pulled out a diagram titled “Parts of a Lady” from 1921 and began to explain the various moods women experience during their menstrual cycle.
Sums up the issue perfectly.