2022 SU General Election Full Supplement

Sexual violence bill vital outside of court

By Jesse Stilwell, March 7 2017 —

When Rona Ambrose presented Bill C-337, Canadian feminists applauded her contribution to the creation of a culture of consent in Canada’s judicial system. But while ending rape culture in the judicial system is essential, it’s not enough to deal with the issue as a societal problem.

Ambrose’s bill calls for mandatory sexual assault training for lawyers who wish to become a judge in criminal courts. This is supposed to prevent similar remarks to those Robin Camp made in a 2014 sexual assault trial when he asked the victim why she “didn’t keep her knees together.” Just this past weekend Judge Gregory Lenehan in Nova Scotia said in his ruling that intoxicated people can make informed consent. This shows how deeply this culture has grown into our judicial system.

Judicial appointments are awarded to seasoned attorneys. Any lawyer that still needs that kind of training or would benefit from it at this stage of their career should not be appointed as a judge. We need to find ways to make sure that people who have a fundamental misunderstanding of sexual assault change their ways before they even enter the public sphere in any measure.

Lawyers already go through rigorous training during years of law school. Some specialize in criminal law in order to hone their skills and familiarize themselves with sexual assault case proceedings. But this information and these skills should be public. Ambrose is on the right track- — more sexual assault training in the context of courts would be valuable for lawyers. But it shouldn’t be exclusive to them.

This can be done through some amendments to the bill. The training should be judicial-system focused but open to the public. All citizens could benefit from a deeper understanding of courtroom conduct during sexual assault cases. Everyone should know how to react and what will happen if someone they know becomes a survivor of sexual violence.

This doesn’t mean that Ambrose did not make a meaningful contribution towards a culture of consent. Everyone plays a role in creating a culture of consent and understanding the crucial role that the judicial system plays is pivotal. This is why Bill C-337 may need some edits but deserves to be passed in parliament.

Hiring | Staff | Advertising | Contact | PDF version | Archive | Volunteer | SU

The Gauntlet