JUDGING SEXUAL ASSAULT
THE SHIFTING LANDSCAPE OF JUDICIAL EDUCATION IN CANADA
Keywords:judicial education, sexual assault, sexual violence, judicial independence, substantive equality, Canadian Judicial Council, social context education, judicial accountability, Bill C-337, gender inequality, Justice Robin Camp
The authors, a law professor and a former judge, examine recent events that raise critical questions about judicial education on sexual assault. These include the Inquiry into the conduct of Justice Robin Camp, the consequent unanimous passing by Parliament of Bill C-337, the Judicial Accountability through Sexual Assault Law Training Act, and the institutional response of the Canadian Judicial Council (CJC) to the public outcry and the political response. The article considers the tension between the legitimate call for judicial accountability and the equally legitimate desire to protect judicial independence at a time of increasing public and political awareness of entrenched female inequality and its relationship to male sexual violence. They argue that the judicial education provisions of Bill C-337 reflect this tension and, as a result, are likely to be ineffective if proclaimed in force. While they identify many positive aspects to the CJC response to the Bill, the authors conclude that the CJC’s continued insistence that judicial education be controlled, supervised, and implemented by judges is inadequate. They suggest that a respectful, continuous, and dynamic collaboration among judges, legal and other academics, and community members with relevant experience and expertise will contribute to public understanding of the judicial role at the same time as it increases the likelihood that judicial education will enhance women’s equal treatment in the nation’s courtrooms.