The Oxford Castle spent most of its historical life functioning as the local gaol.
The hotel that's now part of the castle complex is a Malmaison Hotel.
The Oxford Castle spent most of its historical life functioning as the local gaol.
The hotel that's now part of the castle complex is a Malmaison Hotel.
We end our political party week by discussing Canada’s founding political party. The Conservative Party adopted its values and policies from the British Tories and governed Canada for 29 consecutive years after Confederation.1 Since Confederation the Conservative Party has changed substantially. For the purpose of today’s post we will be focussing on the Conservative Party’s merger after the year 2000 and its upcoming leadership race.
Before unifying in 2003, there were two separate and distinct conservative parties: the Canadian Reform Conservative Alliance and the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada.2 The two merged in December 2003 with overwhelming support from both parties and a hope of creating a stronger and more unified conservative movement.3 A newly formed party required one more thing: a newly elected leader to bring new life to the campaign. On March 20th, 2004, Stephen Harper became the first leader of the Conservative Party of Canada.4 Harper led the Conservatives to success in the 2006 election, and maintained control of the Canadian government until November 2015.
After the loss of the 2015 election, Harper chose to step down from party leadership leaving Rona Ambrose as the current interim party leader.5 This brings us to the current state of the Conservative government. On May 27th, 2017, Conservative Party members will vote to elect the party’s new leader. Fourteen candidates put their names forward almost immediately upon notice of the election, but polls suggest that there are really only three contenders.6
With an early lead over the other candidates, polls suggest that Kevin O’Leary with (22.1%) will be the next Conservative leader.7 Controversial, outspoken, loud, and critical of Canada’s current Liberal government, O’Leary has certainly created a name for himself. Perhaps Conservative Canadians are unhappy with how Justin Trudeau and the Liberals are running the country, or maybe O’Leary’s name is more recognizable due to his fame from “Dragon’s Den.” Regardless of the reason, O’Leary’s election seems likely.
What platform is O’Leary actually running on when you look past the loud media rants and wild antics? The answer is hard to determine. O’Leary’s campaign page suggests that he wants to support small businesses and hardworking Canadians using his investment background.8 He also suggests that it is time for the country to be run by someone who is not a career politician. Sound familiar? I recall a certain Donald Trump making similar suggestions south of the border. While O’Leary may have good intentions of balancing the Canadian budget and providing support to working Canadians he does not make any tangible suggestions as to how he will do this. But he is a businessman so he must know how to deal with the economy, right?
The Conservative Party would head in an interesting direction if O’Leary were elected. If he’s elected I hope O’Leary will make, and keep, tangible promises to Canadians, rather than just rant about Justin Trudeau’s time in office. Who knows though, maybe by May 27th Kellie Leitch or Maxime Bernier will take the vote. All we can do now is stay tuned and leave you with a quote from O’Leary:
"I understand what he is doing with the media, and you can certainly claim I am trying to do the same, but I am not Donald Trump."9
1 Trevor W Harrison, “Conservative Party”, The Canadian Encyclopedia (19 August 2015), online: <www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/conservative-party/>.
2 Conservative Party of Canada, “Our History” (2017), online: <www.conservative.ca/our-party/our-history/>.
5 Conservative Party of Canada, “Leadership” (2017), online: <www.conservative.ca/leadership/en>.
6 “Conservative leadership candidate Kevin O'Leary says he knows where 'rot' is at CBC: 'We could save billions of dollars'”, Toronto Sun (28 March 2017), online: <www.torontosun.com/2017/03/28/conservative-leadership-candidate-kevin-oleary-says-he-knows-where-rot-is-at-cbc-we-could-save-billions-of-dollars>.
8 Kevin O’Leary, “Why I’m Running” (2017), online: <https://olearyforcanada.ca/en/why/#0>.
9 The Canadian Press, “A selection of quotes from Conservative leadership candidate Kevin O'Leary” Times Colonist (18 January 2017), online: <www.timescolonist.com/a-selection-of-quotes-from-conservative-leadership-candidate-kevin-o-leary-1.7857343>.
Posted by The BNA Act 1867 on March 31, 2017 at 07:00 AM in Blog News and Stuff, Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, Current Affairs, Economic Policies, Film, Free Speech, General Interest, Humor, Law in General, Literature, Movies & Pop Culture, Politics, Pop Culture, Rule of Law, Scholarship, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)
This week, The Dominion writers demonstrate their nerdy tendencies by discussing fictional legal scenarios. Check back daily to see if your favourite fictional legal case is featured!
Last year, the blockbuster film Captain America: Civil War featured a plan to force super heroes to register with the government. Comics have used this kind of storyline for decades. But would such a legislative scheme be valid in the real world?
The first attempt to register super heroes in the Marvel Universe was the Mutant Registration Act [MRA] (also called the Mutant Control Act). This was first mentioned in the “Days of Future Past” story, in which genocidal, mutant hunting Sentinels controlled a dark future. After the legislation passed a special government strike team called Freedom Force enforced it. Ironically, Freedom Force was comprised of former super criminals who had tried to assassinate the Senator who first proposed the legislation. There were protests against the legislation and at some point it was either repealed or no longer enforced.
This legislation is unlikely to be enforced in Canada. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees protection against discrimination based on identifiable characteristics in section 15. The courts have expanded the categories that are protected by the Charter using the concept of “analogous grounds” to include things not originally enumerated, such as sexual orientation. Of course, when the analogous ground includes people with the ability to read minds, control the weather, and shoot force blasts from their eyes, it is possible that a violation could be allowed using the reasonable limits clause in s. 1 of the Charter. These powers can make those who possess them extremely dangerous to others. The argument is that the state has a great responsibility to keep control of those with great power.
The second version of registration was very different. Rather than lumping in everyone with the “X-gene”, with powers ranging from “control over the fabric of reality” all the way down to “covered in extra eyeballs”, the Super Hero Registration Act [SHRA] only registered individuals, no matter the source of their powers, who intended to use them. This included many mutants, but also nuclear accident victims and genius engineers. One mutant hero, Firestar, would have had no choice but to register under the MRA. But under the SHRA she was allowed to retire; choosing to refrain from using her powers. The act was eventually repealed at the request of Captain America.
The SHRA is more likely than the MRA to stand in Canada. In fact, Marvel Universe’s Canada has similar legislation, but it did not cause the problems that it did south of the border. When the dust cleared after Civil War, Iron Man ended up in charge of SHIELD, the agency charged with administering the SHRA. He used his new authority to ensure that heroes were properly trained and spread into teams throughout the United States. This project was called the Fifty States Initiative.
Iron Man and the other experienced heroes were responsible for training the next generation, deciding their qualifications, and, when necessary, policing their actions. The Initiative essentially turned being a super hero into a self-regulating profession, not unlike lawyer self-regulation in the real world. The potential constitutional issues would come not from Charter rights, but rather from the BNA Act itself. Self-regulating professions and other licenses are a provincial responsibility. With that said, in a world with super powers it is likely that courts would allow the federal government to legislate on the matter instead of the provinces. Much like pollution and interprovincial trade, it be a problem too large for the provinces to properly handle.
Comic book writers and filmmakers are not experts in constitutional law. Sometimes, a slow burning sub plot would be a much more dramatic event in the real world. Other times, the summer blockbuster event in the comics would be a completely sensible, not particularly controversial, event in the real world. At least not by constitutional standards.
 Chris Claremont & John Byrne, “Days of Future Past,” Uncanny X-Men 141 (January 1981).
 Chris Claremont & John Romita Jr, “The Spiral Path,” Uncanny X-Men 199 (November 1985).
 Louise Simonson and Walter Simonson, “For All the World to See”, X-Factor 33 (October 1988).
 Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, s 15, Part I of the Constitution Act, 1982, being Schedule B to the Canada Act 1982 (UK), 1982, c 11 [Charter].
 Vriend v Alberta,  1 SCR 493, 156 DLR (4th) 385.
 Charter, supra note 4, s 1.
 J Michael Straczynski & Ron Garney, “Mr Parker Goes to Washington pt 1”, Amazing Spider-Man 529 (April 2006).
 Paul Jenkins & Ramon Bachs, “Embedded pt 2,” Civil War Frontline 2 (August 2006).
 Brian Bendis & Olivier Coipel, “Siege of Asgard - The Fallen,” Siege 4 (June 2010).
 Michael Avon Oeming & Scott Kollins, “The Fantastic Four!”, Omega Flight 2 (May 2007).
 Dan Slott & Stefano Caselli, “Happy Accidents,” Avengers: The Initiative 1 (June 2007).
 Legal Profession Act, RSA 2000, c L-8.
 Constitution Act, 1867 (UK), 30 & 31 Vict, c 3, s 92(9), reprinted in RSC 1985, Appendix II, No 5.
 R v Crown Zellerbach Canada Ltd,  1 SCR 401, 49 DLR (4th) 161.
Posted by The BNA Act 1867 on March 20, 2017 at 08:00 AM in Blog News and Stuff, Books, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law & Procedure, Current Affairs, Film, General Interest, History, Human Rights, Humor, Law in General, Law School and Students Issues, Lawyers, Legal History, Literature, Movies & Pop Culture, Pop Culture, Rule of Law | Permalink | Comments (2)
If we were to ask any non-Canadian what they know about Heritage Day, we would likely be met with a look of confusion. Truth be told, if we were to ask any Canadian the same question, it is likely that they might only know their province's version of it. Here in Alberta, where it is celebrated in August, it is often simply referred to as “August Long”, and frequently used to camp or travel.
Many provinces celebrate Heritage Day on the third Monday of February. It was originally created in 1973 by the Heritage Canada Foundation1 and was intended to be a national holiday. Due to Parliamentary shenanigans, this national holiday failed to be passed into law, so many of the provinces celebrated however they pleased. For some of them, it meant doing nothing until some time later, when they enacted their own provincial statutes to establish the holiday.
Yukon Territory, on the other hand, was an early adopter. In 1975, Yukon had assumed that Parliament would pass the Bill to establish a National Heritage Day. In response, the territory established their own Heritage Day on the Friday preceding the last Sunday in February. Further, they wrote the holiday into the union contract for territorial employees2. With the new law in place and the contract ratified, the holiday could not be easily removed. Consequently, many non-government employees in the Yukon also now enjoy the holiday.
Whitehorse, the capital of Yukon Territory hosts the week-long “Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous”, which is a festival with something for literally everyone. Based on the names and descriptions alone, our favourites include the Chainsaw Chuck (not to be confused with the Axe Throw later in the day), the Hair Freezing Contest (sponsored by a local hot tub company), and various dogsled-related events, culminating in a Dog Howling Contest.
We love that this holiday and its accompanying festival showcase one of the best things about Canada. As Canadians, we can all relate not only because we like to have fun, but also that we have a habit of poking a little fun at ourselves. The great people of Yukon Territory have done a great job of finding the perfect balance of recognizing and celebrating their unique culture, while having some lighthearted fun.
For those of us unable to make the trip to Whitehorse this weekend, Heritage Yukon invites those of us who use social media to use the hashtag #mycanadais to help celebrate the 150th anniversary of this diverse country that we share.
1 “Heritage Day: Canadian Holiday” in Encyclopaedia Britannica (Encyclopaedia Britannica: 2017) online: <https://www.britannica.com/topic/Heritage-Day-Canadian-holiday>.
2 Gail Kudelik, “Provincial and Territorial Holidays” in Canadian Encyclopedia (Historica Canada: 2015) online: <www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/provincial-and-territorial-holidays>.
Having recently reviewed some prominent Fathers of Confederation, this week we focus on Mothers of Confederation. Without a doubt, the most prominent and important female influence of Confederation was Queen Victoria.
Queen Victoria’s connection with Canada went beyond merely sitting as monarch over a colony. Her father, Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, lived in Quebec and the Maritimes for the better part of a decade. Canada’s smallest province, Prince Edward Island, was named after him.
Queen Victoria was Canada’s ultimate political signatory to enact Confederation. It was an appealing mechanism with which to unite French- and English-speaking residents, to facilitate trade among the regions, and to stave off American invasion. Some Canadian and British politicians reasoned that the US would be more likely to conquer Canada if the regions remained separate British colonies. Therefore, Confederation not only internally united Ontario, Quebec, and the Maritimes, it also protected the region from external threats.
One of Queen Victoria’s first steps to uniting British North America was to ease tensions after the rebellion uprisings in Upper and Lower Canada. The rebellions started in 1837, the year Victoria ascended to the throne, and continued to 1839. She granted amnesties to rebels as early as 1838, allowed the Governor General to issue special pardons in 1843, and granted completed pardons for anyone involved in the rebellions through the Amnesty Act in 1849. One former rebel became a father of Confederation, which speaks to the Queen’s work in reconciliation.
In a further commitment to maintain harmony in her colony, Queen Victoria directly met with First Nations leaders before Confederation. Her children appear to have continued that commitment by visiting Canada and meeting with First Nations leaders to listen to political needs and concerns.
Although her father and five of her children visited Canada, Queen Victoria never did. Moreover, one critic wrote that Queen Victoria’s personal diary seems dismissive of major Canadian events. On May 22, 1867, the Queen noted only briefly that she attended the final meeting to authorize Confederation. And on July 1st, 1867, Queen Victoria wrote of her daughter’s fifth wedding anniversary and of the weather, with no mention of Canada.
Other historians note that the Queen never stopped grieving her husband’s death in 1861. Perhaps, though committed to Canada’s political interests, she merely reflected in her personal journal without considering whether 150 years later we would analyze her private thoughts.
Whatever her motivation for her personal diary, Queen Victoria’s motivation for Confederation was echoed by those who were on the ground in British North America. Confederation had political motives that transcended those among the colonies. As Canada’s Queen, Victoria made her mark on Canada and we continue to celebrate her reign with the annual Victoria Day long weekend.
*Just kidding; we love Queen Bey.
 Arthur Bousfield, “Queen Victoria, 1837-1901: Mother of Confederation,” Canadian Royal Heritage Trust (2013), online: <crht.ca/queen-victoria-mother-of-confederation/>; Carolyn Harris, “Queen Victoria and Canada,” Queen’s Alumni Review, Queen’s University (2016), online: <www.queensu.ca/gazette/alumnireview/stories/queen-victoria-and-canada>.
 Library and Archives Canada, Government of Canada “How Canada was Formed,” Politics and Government, Library and Archives Canada online: <https://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/confederation/kids/023002-1010-e.html>; Canada History, “The London Conference,” CanadaHistory.com (2013), online: <http://www.canadahistory.com/sections/eras/confederation/London.html>.
 Harris, supra note 1.
 Randy Boswell, “Queen Victoria, the ‘Mother of Confederation,’ Made No Mention of the Event in her Diary,” Postmedia Network Inc (25 May 2012) Canada.com, online: <www.canada.com/news/Queen+Victoria+Mother+Confederation+made+mention+event+diary/6679733/story.html>.
 Bousfield, supra note 1; Harris, supra note 1.
Posted by The BNA Act 1867 on February 13, 2017 at 08:00 AM in Aboriginal Law, American Law, Blog News and Stuff, Constitutional Law, Current Affairs, Education, Free Speech, General Interest, History, Humor, International Law, Law in General, Law School and Students Issues, Lawyers, Legal History, Literature, Movies & Pop Culture, Politics, Pop Culture, Rule of Law | Permalink | Comments (0)
This is not quite an Oxford Story but there is at least one Oxford connection.
Once upon a time, in central North York, Ontario, Canada, when North York (despite Mel Lastman's pretensions) was really only a suburb of the City of Toronto - much like the boroughs of New York, NY are only suburbs of Manhattan - before North York amalgamated with Toronto and other suburbs of the City of Toronto, there was a small community of houses, apartment buildings and a small public school in an area bounded by Highway 401 to the south, railroad tracks to the west, and major streets on the east and north.
The area that is now the massive, upscale, Yorkdale Plaza is southeast of the community, on the other side of the 401.
We are excited to introduce our newest member of the team, Allison Numerow. She will be attempting to replace the irreplaceable Deirdre Fleming as the fifth member of the Law and Social Media team. Allison is a second-year student here at the University of Alberta Faculty of Law. As a 20-something born into the age of technology, she is eager to use social media to connect readers to topics relevant to the Constitution and to continue to develop her research and writing skills. She’s excited to join the other bloggers and bring you thought-provoking and creative posts every day!
Born and raised in Calgary, Allison left Texas of the North when she turned 18 to attend McGill University. There she achieved a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. During her four years in Montreal, she worked in two music cognition laboratories, running experiments on willing victims… I mean students. She conducted experiments on both how babies respond to musical stimuli and dance, as well as the effects that different types of music had on neutral visual stimuli. Outside of classes Allison was a member of a pop music a cappella ensemble because she wanted her life to resemble Pitch Perfect (and still does!).
In the final year of her degree, Allison realized that her education would, of course, require more education. Hence, after graduation she found herself at U of A Law. Allison used her first year at the U of A to educate herself both on the law as well as contemporary issues in the legal world. As she soon discovered, Constitutional Law was her favourite class. Law and Social Media provides a platform for Allison to explore the Constitution and its impact on current issues, evolving case law, and other relevant topics. As a classically trained singer and Harry Potter “nerd”, she is excited to combine her interests with the Constitution. This semester, she will explore popular music from 1867, as well as the potential constitutional issues in some of the laws of the magical wizarding world, to name a few. She will also explore other important and up-and-coming topics including drones and Dolly the Sheep.
When she isn’t watching the Bachelor, Allison is busy working on her colour-by-numbers colouring book. Her friends and family say she’s too old for such hobbies, but she insists that when you have no artistic ability, creative assistance is necessary.
Posted by The BNA Act 1867 on January 20, 2017 at 08:00 AM in Blog News and Stuff, Constitutional Law, Current Affairs, Free Speech, General Interest, History, Human Rights, Humor, Law in General, Law School and Students Issues, Lawyers, Legal History, Literature, Movies & Pop Culture, Music, Politics, Pop Culture, Religion, Sports, Technology, Television, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0)
Seen today in UK paper - The Independent 17 Jan 2017 - in an article by Grace Dent titled "Nigel Farage knows there is money to made in acting like a Trump supporter" - and then found online for your enjoyment. You'll find the full article online here. Coincidentally, the slang term that which caught my attention happens to have a North American meaning that's almost as good, in context, as the UK meaning.
Now I'd like to turn to another issue: that of judicial hubris. You did, after all, raise this in penultimate paragraph of your critique, although you called it "professional hubris".
Is there any evidence that contemporaneous with the drafting documents exist. Yes. I’ll insert a few screen captures of search results and an excerpt from one document. The captures at the least provide one a road map of where to start looking. It took me less than an hour to get this information, for what that’s worth. (If an old dinosaur like me is able to find information that easily, imagine what those of you who grew up wired should be able to do?)
[A few of the images - the Hansard listings & the DuckDuckGo search screens need to be replaced with larger versions for easy viewing but, if you enlarge the screen enough, you'll get the point. Something seems to exist.]
This part continues the Purposive Dancing article from where it ended in Part 4. When the part stopped, I'd finished providing the background for a scene that takes place in an imaginary version of Alberta, which I called AlberDum. (After all, folks, if Norway, that's right, Norway, could find a way to save a whole chunk of its North Sea oil revenue for rainy day, how smart does one have to be to save even a small but good chunk of Alberta's? Even a good car salesman could figure that out, let alone an Ontario self-exile from the Leaside and Rexdale areas of Toronto (even if he wasn't ever formally a part of the Alberta gov't.) I realize that Alberta's oil wasn't North Sea oil, so maybe it wasn't quite as clean as the European stuff - maybe had a whiff of sulphur or two; if not that then not quite as pure as the European stuff so it required more processing before becoming "saleable" - but the stream of revenue Alberta got during at least two oil booms was just as "clean".
Thank you very much for your comments. I think that, at least here, your dispute with the Court comes down to this. You say that the was no room for any meaning other than that which you say was the clear meaning. The Court didn't agree. You say, then, that the purposive dancing dance is not appropriate in this case because, in the broad sense, what it does to the Rule of Law. I agree, if you are right about how the statute had to be interpreted.
In the old days, way back in the last millennium, when online access was very expensive and modems were very slow, people used what were called OLRs - Off Line Readers - for discussions on bulletin boards. The beauty of the OLR was that it linked all messages in a conversation chronologically to make reading easier: like a good email program does but with a party line capacity. Every person's contribution to the same converstion was included in the linked chain in the appropriate chronological slot. That meant the contributions of multiple people were included in the same thread one saw on one's screen. You didn't have to cut and paste to link, or use multiple screens.
This post is the first of a series of posts that, together make up an article that Professor Hutchinson and I intend to use to discuss various issues raised in the article and anything else that comes to mind as we discuss those issues.
There will be a series of daily posts until the article is completely posted. We are aiming for a school week's worth.
Purposive Dancing With The Stars
A Response to Professor Hutchinson and on the process of judicial judgment writing, the contents of some reasons for judgment, and advocacy in the courts
I had intended this to be a brief(ish) - by real standards, not mine - reply to Professor Hutchinson's very succinct, very accurate, very true critique, on SLAW of the SCC's recent decision in Alberta (Information and Privacy Commissioner) v University of Calgary, 2016 SCC 53. see Cameron Hutchinson, The Supreme Court’s Doctrine of No Construction in Alberta v. University of Calgary.* However, as is often (some would say, with some merit too often) the case with me, the piece "grow'd".
So, I've made this a stand-alone posting, here, albeit in the form of a letter to Professor Hutchinson. It is posted with his permission in the sense that he has read it and told he has no objection to me posting the contents in this form. I have mentioned this because an acquaintance recently reminded me of my tendency towards the sardonic. That's intended in this article. I've also intended the flippancy or wryness which, in some ways, is a milder form of sardonicism not amounting to the belittling mockery which sardonicism sometimes apes.
At least for me.
So, please understand that nothing in this document is in any sense intend to mock Professor Hutchinson. He is not my target. If you want to read what I have written otherwise, that’s your right. But you will be wrong to do so, even more now that I’ve told you specifically not to do that.
In any event, as I’ve indicated, Professor Cameron read it before I released it and promised that, should I ever set foot again in Alberta, he'd do nothing worse than subject me to an evening of his impressions of Ezra Klein speeches as might be delivered by Professor Lewis Klar, channeling the spirit of the late Jack Layton to an audience including both Professors Yahya and Klar and former professor now Mr. Justice Brown of the Supreme Court of Canada.
There could be easier punishments.
Or, rather, the "designated crime" of "Being Christy Clark", unlike, say, the state of "Being John Malkovich" which was a very good movie. On the other hand, the "crime" of "Being Christy Clark" should, at best, be an issue of morals, manners, and, dare we say, good breeding, at least in the better parts of British Columbia. However, it may be more than that. It seems to be a state which has the capacity? potential? to be defined as a crime to which the British Columbia Profits of Criminal Notoriety Act, SBC 2016, c 24, in force 19 May 2016 applies. (BC Dippers, somewhere, who get a note of this might be saying to themselves, if not based on this legislation, yet: so? this is new? we told you so!)
With that in mind, I offer what starts after the break for the holiday season. (No, I haven't yet started celebrating.) It's somewhat longish (about 7000 words) and filled with my seeming asides and tangents but I think it'll light up some spirits. There's even poetry (loosely).
1. This year, in countries that use the Gregorian Calendar, Chanukah begins on the evening of 24 December 2016 and ends on evening of January 1 2017. There's probably something poignant, something humorous, and something that combines both that can be said about the first coincidence. The floor - meaning this blog's comments section - is yours.
I'll leave comments about the last until coincidence until after January 1.
2. My list of things I so far haven't yet been able to find in Oxford and related thoughts. This isn't the full list of either, yet; however, the number of the latter may wane as my internal quantity of Christmas and other spirits grows. I tend to add and subtract at will, regardless of the state of my ... searching. (Relative sobriety is a given.)
3. On the purpose of law texts. While Swan, Canadian Contract Law, is also a "go-to" Canadian text - I'd argue at least one of "the" such texts - for current and former barrister (litigator) types who need to know what the law is, and ought to be, for dispute resolution purposes, that isn't its primary purpose. Rather, the text is written from the perspective of the transactional lawyer on the premise that at least one of the common desires, expectations, hopes, intentions, what-have-yous, of the parties is that the transaction to which the contract relates won't end up in the hands of ... people who occupy a role such as the one that I used to occupy: one's lawyers because something has gone wrong.
4. It's 12/12/2016 today, which means I'll get the date right if it's written numerically no matter the order.
This first part of this posting is a story that Bart Simpson would say is exactly what I should have expected and one for which both he and Homer would both award me D'OHs for expecting something else. The rest? What any good bibliophile (Oxonphile?) would do.
Dear Sir or Madam,
Yesterday, we posted about Federal Court Justice Robin Camp and his 2014 comments during a sexual assault trial. Justice Camp repeatedly called the sexual assault complainant “the accused” and asked the complainant why she didn’t keep her knees together.1 There are also three other Alberta judges currently under scrutiny for applying discredited sexist myths and stereotypes in their sexual assault rulings.2
It’s easy to assume that overt sexism only exists amongst the old guard of judges and lawyers. It does not. The attitudes that grow into judicial misconduct begin in law school and they exist now.
The University of Alberta law students’ newspaper, the Canons of Construction, recently published an article entitled, “Desperate Drunk Girl Finds Self at Hal-LAW-ween”. The article depicts a fictional female law student who enjoys drinking and socializing with her peers and future colleagues. Law students, does this sound familiar?
The article opens, “[w]e all know that one girl who’s been single just a little bit too long,” establishing an ongoing emphasis on this woman finding her self worth through male attention. The article goes on to say how this woman lives at the bar, “all in the slim hope that she finds the one. Because everyone knows that love develops when you’re 10 tequila shots deep and that closing down the bar to swoop in on the dregs of society at the end of the night is the best way to fill that big empty void in your damaged, broken, and very single heart.”
This intelligent woman pursuing higher education is then slut-shamed. “After fearlessly hitting on pretty much all of the 1Ls, some who were clearly attached to partners, word, like herpes, spread at the party.” A woman displaying initiative by pursuing multiple single men? How dare she! Pull out your bonnet and crinolines3 people, we have an abomination on our hands!
The internal dialogue that accompanies the “epiphany of her life” is just as profound as one would expect of a highly educated woman: “What is love anyway? I think I’m getting fat and I might be developing signs of jaundice. Maybe I should learn to teach yoga. Do I have any KD left at home?”. She finally realizes that this law degree business is making her fat, thus diminishing her self worth to men. Her only solution is drop out and refocus on her honing her body rather than honing her mind.
The moral of the story for this tale’s “heroine” is in the article’s concluding paragraph: “The very next day, she quit drinking, put on a chastity belt, dropped out of law school and enrolled at a yoga academy. She finally learned that she don’t need no man to make her happy, and that praising the virtues of fair-trade, organic and environmentally sustainable armpit wax to yuppie moms in her trainee yoga instructor classes is way better than catching gonorrhea for the sixth time.”
In essence, a female law student is desperate if she doesn’t have a boyfriend, yet if she does garner that oh-so-important male attention, she’s shameful and requires a chastity belt. Her epiphany is not that she is an intelligent woman who can pursue a legal career while engaging in an active social life. The moral of her tale is that she only learns of her self worth when she abandons her career and relegates herself to a more feminine arena.
But it’s just a joke, and humour is subjective! The article is supposed to be satire! Humour does not excuse misogyny and shaming your peers.
Good satire exposes a truth through ridicule and irony, but what was the truth being exposed in this article? That women who pursue men are promiscuous? That professional women would be better staying at home, rather than socializing with their peers? Perhaps that women don’t belong in the legal profession in general, given that the “heroine” of this story found self worth only when she quit law school.
Yes, this is fiction. But it speaks to every woman in this program on some level. Every woman who has expressed romantic interest at a bar, every woman who has consumed alcohol in excess, every woman who regularly attends school social events. The solution for these women? According to this article, drop out of school. You aren’t worth it.
The problem is not whether the female in the article is fictional. The problem is that this attitude creates an unsafe environment for all women in this program. Female students should not be afraid to engage in the same behaviour as men for fear that their behaviour will be publicly ridiculed.
Your resident nasty women and men,
Jason Markusoff, Charlie Gillis, Michael Friscolanti “The Robin Camp case: Who judges judges”, Maclean’s. (14 September 2016), online: <www.macleans.ca/news/robin-camp-case-who-judges-the-judges/>.
 Dan McGarvey and Natasha Frakes “4 Alberta judges under scrutiny for sex assault rulings”, CBC News. (16 September 2016), online: <http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/alberta-judges-sex-assault-trials-myths-1.3765959>.
 R v Ewanchuk,  1 SCR 330, 131 CCC (3d) 481.