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Meeting with Federal Liberal Justice Critic in October

Liberal Justice Critic Meets with Legal Associations in Toronto to Discuss Diversity in the Canadian Judiciary (October 16, 2014)

Liberal Justice Critic, Sean Casey, MP Arnold Chan and Liberal Candidate, Gary Anandasangaree participated in a roundtable with prominent legal associations in Toronto to discuss concerns with the federal judicial appointments process.

The roundtable, organized by the South Asian Bar Association of Toronto (SABA), featured members of the executive of SABA, the Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers (FACL), the Canadian Association of Black Lawyers (CABL) and the Women’s Law Association of Ontario (WLAO).  “This roundtable was a great opportunity to hear from the legal community about the issue of diversity in Federal judicial appointments” said Mr. Casey. “I am grateful to SABA for facilitating an opportunity for us to discuss the role of the Federal Government in developing a judiciary and justice system that truly reflects the face of Canada”.

“Canada’s identity and strength are premised on its rich diversity; yet, sadly our judiciary is neither representative nor reflective of this.  Lack of gender and racial diversity in the Canadian judiciary is of equal concern to all Canadians, not just under-represented communities.  It is encouraging to see the Liberal Party take note of this critically important issue” said Jayashree Goswami, President of SABA.

Gary Anandasanagree, Liberal Candidate for Scarborough Rouge Park, a lawyer and a past SABA award recipient spoke of the need to break open barriers within our legal bodies and law societies to marshal broader support for the cause of diversity. “The election of minority lawyers such as newly elected MP Arnold Chan and other racialized members of the bar seeking public office is a step in the right direction” added Anandasangaree.

Lai-King Hum, President of FACL said, “[J]udicial diversity is fundamentally an issue of access to justice and public confidence in the administration of justice.  The roundtable discussion with Mr. Casey and Mr. Chan laid important groundwork.  FACL had written to the Minister of Justice, Peter MacKay, requesting a similar meeting.  Rather than engage with FACL, he declined because of his “busy schedule”.”

“Racialized candidates who are both qualified and meritorious exist and are applying but are not being selected” said Arleen Huggins, President of CABL.  “The federal government would know this if the process mandated keeping statistics at all stages of the process. CABL has attempted to discuss these issues in person with the federal Minister of Justice to no avail.  We are pleased that Mr. Casey and Mr. Chan see the need for in person dialogue and action.”

Mr. Chan concluded the roundtable by sharing the Liberal Party’s disappointment at the Federal Conservative Government’s position on the lack of diversity on federal courts.  He emphasized his team’s understanding that lack of diversity on the bench was a pressing issue for all members of the bar, and not only racialized members.  He spoke about the need for greater transparency and pledged to continue the conversation with various stakeholders.

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