Newspaper article The Canadian Press

New Ways of Picking Judges Not Foolproof, Education Still Needed: Ambrose

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

New Ways of Picking Judges Not Foolproof, Education Still Needed: Ambrose

Article excerpt

New rules for judges not foolproof: Ambrose

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OTTAWA - Changes the Liberals have made to the way judges are appointed would not necessarily prevent someone who believes in stereotypes about sexual assault cases from presiding over one of those trials, interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose said Tuesday.

Ambrose went before the House of Commons status of women committee to discuss her private member's bill that would require anyone who wanted to be considered for an appointment to the bench to undergo comprehensive training in sexual assault law.

The bill, C-337, would also require the Canadian Judicial Council to report on continuing education courses in matters related to sexual assault law and change the Criminal Code to make courts provide written decisions in sexual assault cases.

There were some tense moments, as Liberal MPs pointed out that it was a Conservative justice minister who appointed Robin Camp, who asked a sexual assault complainant in a trial why she couldn't keep her knees together, to the Federal Court.

Camp, who was a provincial court judge in Alberta when he made the comments, resigned from the Federal Court last month.

Ambrose said her bill is not about assigning blame, but about making sure judges have better training.

"I would watch your comments, because you have no idea what some judge might say or has said or done, that your government might appoint," Ambrose told Liberal MP Pam Damoff. "These people are supposed to be capable of the job."

Liberal MP Anita Vandenbeld said the federal government had designed a new, merit-based appointments process, with independent judicial advisory committees whose members have undergone training in diversity, unconscious bias and how to assess merit.

Referring to Camp, Vandenbeld asked: "Do you think that that kind of appointment would happen under the current system that our government implemented?"

"There's a very good chance it would," Ambrose replied.

"I have seen people appointed who came with incredible CVs and then do things that surprised everyone," she said. …

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