Canada’s Supreme Court Is All White & They Say It’s Time For Some Real Change
Canada's legal system isn't good enough, advocates say.
Canada's judicial representation is simply not good enough. That's the message the country's federal justice minister has for Canadians.
David Lametti said that the "federally-appointed bench" in Canada has failed to appoint more representation in courts and has not moved fast enough for his liking, he told CBA National.
So he's promising to do something about it.
Why aren't there more diverse lawyers in Canadian courts?
Lametti said that open calls for lawyers of "under-represented groups" aren't working.
Apparently, members of legal organizations that advocate for diversity have said that this way of recruiting new members of different backgrounds and experiences is played out.
"If you just keep doing things the same old way, they're clearly not reaching people and then people aren't applying," Brad Regehr, president of the Canadian Bar Association said.
Another source also said that to apply to these positions someone must first think they are qualified enough.
This could prove difficult when applicants don't see themselves represented in their possible place of work, which would steer them into not applying altogether.
How white is the Supreme Court and what do they want to do about it?
It may or may not come as a surprise to many that the Supreme Court body is all-white.
What's more, apparently only white people have been seated on the Supreme Court of Canada in all of its history.
This year, the Supreme Court's chief justice, Richard Wagner, spoke out on the need for more diverse bodies in Canada's legal system.
This comes as Canada witnessed an avalanche across the globe where Black and Indigenous people and their allies protested over anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism.
Wagner admitted that the top court has tried to mediate after it was revealed that there were racial biases and degradation within the justice system.
Lametti said that some good has come from these discussions, after hiring 74 diverse members since the elections in 2019.
According to him, 44 women were appointed, two were Indigenous, 14 were visible minorities, and six identified themselves as part of the LGBTQ+ community.
However, the report said that instead of sitting back and waiting for BIPOC, women and LGBT folks to apply, they should seek them out by nominating lawyers.
What do underrepresented Canadians have to say?
Lori Anne Thomas, president of the Canadian Association of Black Lawyers said that people who have never seen themselves on the bench are very less likely to want to apply, according to the report.
"Why put yourself through the torture for a job that's probably not going to happen?" Thomas asked.
Additionally, Martha Jackman, co-chair of the National Association of Women and the Law (NAWL) and law professor at the University of Ottawa, said that systemic bias elements can sabotage someone's prospects almost immediately upon looking at them.
She also believes that there is no excuse for why the federal justice minister David Lametti and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau can not just appoint diverse individuals who "have a lived experience that is different from the dominant culture."
Jackman also said that lawyers can expect a shot at snagging a job as two Ontario spots will soon open up on the Supreme Court and it's the perfect chance to hire someone from an unrepresented group.