Canada’s chief justice against federal law to make courses in sexual assault mandatory for all judges to learn

Canada’s Chief Justice has stated that he is against a proposed federal law that would make courses in sexual assault mandatory for all judges to learn, as he believes that judges should not be told what to think. 

Michael MacDonald, interim executive director of the Canadian Judicial Council stated that while these courses are well-intended, they set a dangerous precedent for driving “controversial education initiatives down the throats of judges.”

Bill C-5 was brought forth to combat the belief that the public holds that states most judges are still ‘living in the past’ when it comes to sexual assault cases.

This law would then require the Canadian Judicial Council to give education in sexual assault law as well as social context to the members of the highest provincial courts. It also requires an annual report to be conducted by the Council on the courses given and the number of judges that attended.

Justice Minister David Lametti states that the bill’s purpose is to give all Canadians confidence in the justice system’s fairness, in light of the fact that many sexual assaults go unreported due to fear of how the justice system will perceive victims. 

I think the biggest issue that our criminal justice system faces currently is the fact that not everyone has faith in it. A lot of crimes are not reported because there are many loopholes within the law and preconceived notions surrounding people and their backgrounds.

Our justice system should be focusing on improving itself to make people feel as though they are going to be heard, and that deserved justice will be brought to  all parties

The focus should be on our judges gaining more knowledge because they are not 100 per cent perfect. I don’t think we need to worry about setting precedent for other controversial education initiatives because I do not see this as controversial. Sexual assault is not controversial, and it is a subject that is evolving from what it was originally seen as in the justice system. 

We now live in a world where victim-blaming is not something that can be watched in the courtroom – people are standing up for victims and understand that the perpetrators need to be brought to justice.

Since this understanding is now the Canadian status quo, our judges should reflect on how our society feels.

Requiring judges to take courses should not be a bad thing, as people should always be learning and improving who they are.

Firstly, the justice system needs to understand that while it is their goal to bring justice to all Canadians, they are not doing it very effectively as of right now. From there, they need to start taking steps to improve this disconnect.

If requiring courses is a way to do it, then I think it is very important that this bill is implemented.

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