Judges, Women, Sex and Responsibility


This week, one of the major Canadian news headlines was that a Manitoba judge, Lori Douglas, was embroiled in a sex scandal. According to the published stories, she engaged in “kinky” sex acts and had photos documenting this. Her husband, Jack King, then posted these photos online. This information came out when a client of King’s, Alexander Chapman, filed a complaint against both the spouses alleging that King had sexually harassed him when Chapman had engaged the husband as legal counsel. According to CBC.ca, Douglas did not know that her husband had shown these photos to anyone, or that he had posted them online.

Reactions to this story have been swift and mostly negative. While many journalists and commentators have expressed sympathy towards Douglas and the fact that she is facing such difficulties because of the thoughtlessness of her husband, most are also blaming her for even engaging in such activities at all. Her decision to even allow nude photos to be taken of herself has been seen as foolish and representative of an immature mind. In fact, according to Sébastien Grammond, Dean of Civil Law at the University of Ottawa, “if pictures of you naked end up on an internet site, it’s quite difficult to say you have the credibility to be a judge” (Quote taken from the above cited CBC article).

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The Underdogs of Social Justice: Muriel McQueen Fergusson

As a society, we have many heroes. We shower them with affection, commendation, and praise. We talk about how they have changed our lives and how they have made the world a better place. However, sometimes the greatest heroes are the ones that we never talk about. Sometimes the most amazing people are the ones we forget. That is why I am starting a sporadic series of posts about brilliant people who deserve more attention than what they currently receive and I can think of no better feminist Canadian example to start with than Muriel McQueen Fergusson.

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Expectations, Human Compassion and Reality: Just Who Should Save Sexual Minorities Around the World?

And now for something that has nothing to do with the Canadian census! I would like to highlight another Globe and Mail article that makes me want to bash my head against things. This time it is the editorial entitled Refugee Sponsorship: Canada’s Queer Community Needs to Help Persecuted Sexual Minorities.

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Quick Hits: The Cat and the Census Wars: Two Totally Unrelated Topics

I. My Adopted Kitty

As a favour to a friend, I am now the current temporary owner of a big black tom cat. A big black tom cat that never wants to let me sleep again. Ever. Said kitty likes to yowl starting at about four in the morning. He doesn’t want food (he has it), water (has that too), or even attention. He just wants my partner and I to be awake so he can talk to us because his favourite thing in the world is talking. And by talking, I mean yowling. Hence, my goal of getting out a post a day for a week got derailed due to severe kitty induced sleep deprivation. We’ve now engaged in a seemingly endless war of annoyance. He wakes me up and paws at my head; I squirt him with a spray bottle or forcefully cuddle him. Someone has to break soon! (And it will probably be me) In any case, enjoy a photo of an adorably cranky kitty that is wrapped up in a blanket.

II. Census 2011: Today’s Events and What they Mean for Canada

My last post about was about the Canadian census and my comments still stand. Thus far Statistics Canada has come out saying that the Conservative government twisted their words and that they never claimed that a voluntary long-form census could be an acceptable replacement for the mandatory long-form census. They counselled against such a change, however, we all know how well that turned out. Earlier this evening, the head statistician, Munir Sheikh, resigned. This was a statement to the effect that he felt that he could no longer carry out his duties in light of the current changes.

The Globe and Mail released a rather good article on ten ways the changing of the census can affect the average Canadian. From public transport to hospitals to housing developments, the reformatting of the census will damage the information decisions about countless endeavours in Canada are based upon. Sheikh knew this, so did the other top statisticians and researchers in the country. Our government did not listen.

However, what I fear the most is not the dearth of accurate information Canada will suddenly have on all manner of issues, even though I myself am a researcher. I fear that this is yet another example of Conservative bullying tactics which are slowly eating away at Canadian government. For the past several years, the Conservatives have been unilaterally pushing through legislation and major policy changes in Parliament. From crime bills to environmental regulations, the census and much much more, once the government has decided upon a course of action, it goes forth, regardless of what effects their choices may have on the country. Even if experts and Canadians rise up in anger, the Conservatives shove their decisions forward, threatening elections and deriding the anti-democratic House or the anti-Democratic Senate as the enemies of the nation and obstacles in the way of good governance. Evidence does not matter. Popular opinion does not matter. All that does matter is that their decisions and plans are followed through with. Getting rid of an effective census will help them continue with this behaviour. It means that their decisions can no longer be held to a set of non-biased national information. This move will delegitimise statistics and evidence-based research overall. It is a bad move for Canada and for the effectiveness of our governments at all levels of the nation, most of which have not even had a voice in this decision. The mandatory long-form census must remain intact and Canadians need to use their voices to announce that they will not put up with this type of bullying governance any longer.

The 2011 Census, Civil Responsibility and You: Why Canada needs a Mandatory Long-Form Census

We all interact with our country in various ways. We access health care, religious services, social welfare programmes, and education. We pay taxes, we buy houses, we park our cars, we take public transit, we shop for food and we partake in recreational activities. We move to Canada from other countries, we move within Canada from other provinces and cities and sometimes we live in one place for our entire lives. We celebrate our cultural heritages, be they external to Canada or rooted in our Canadian identity. We have children and sometimes we do not. We buy things for our homes, our loved ones and sometimes just for fun.

All of these actions have something in common: the census cares about them.

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Quebec, Religious Education and the Balance of Rights: Believing in the Personhood of Children and Youth

A child is a human being, and, as such, is a rights bearing individual. Stop.

A child has the same fundamental rights as an adult. Point.

All children are people whose rights are not dependent on the desires of anyone else, including their parents. End of story.

So, do we all have that simple lesson down? I can quiz everyone and they’ll get 100%? No? There are people in Quebec who still have it wrong? Well, damn. Time to blog angrily about it then.

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Ontario and the War over Comprehensive Sex Education

Sexual education is one of my personal crusades. The debates over American abstinence-only education during the Bush era drew me in and reflections on my own lack of sex ed opened my eyes to see how disastrously and ineptly handled the topic is in Canada. My ideals surrounding sexual education are tied up with my beliefs concerning issues such as feminism, human rights and diverse sexualities. Hence why when Ontario announced that it had revamped its sexual education curriculum for public schools and the changes were good, I wanted to weep for joy! A Canadian government doing something progressive and concrete? Such incidents have been in a sorry lack of supply in my country lately.

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