Monday, May 7, 2012

Diversity in judicial appointments; let's not overstate the record

A well-known lawyer was quoted in the Law Times saying:

"... of the last 100 judicial appointments by the Tories, 98 per cent of them have been white men. "

Someone slipped up.

Diversity in appointments is a major problem. I have written on it and spoken about it on radio and television many times.

But this government has not appointed almost hundred white men out of the last hundred judges. Women, who are being appointed at a lower rate than under the old government, make up over 25% of appointments. And depending how you define 'white' there have been more than 2% non-white appointments in the last hundred.

Now, that's not a record to be praised -- when I last looked the Bar is not 75% male and 97% white (neither is Canada) -- but hyperbole is not a good approach to statistics. Let's get the figures right and work on evidence -- not ideology.


Omar Ha-Redeye said...

Agreed, hyperbole should be avoided. But the lawyers comments in question here are still accurate, especially given the nature and content of the judicial comments in question.

In Canada we have opted for the term "visible minority," largely because minorities that are still considered white don't face nearly the same systemic or institutional barriers.

Using this terminology we can accurately state that 100% of the judicial appointments were non-visible minorities. Judicial appointments should be based on merit of course, but part of the merit includes a greater familiarity and sensitivity to our diverse cultures than the professed knowledge that the judge here claimed.

James C Morton said...


Very fair point -- and I agree (and said as much in the Ottawa Citizen a few months ago -- and boy got slgged for saying so!)

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