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Lawyers group calls on feds for more stats on male, female judges

June 27, 2014 - 11:02 AM

OTTAWA - The Canadian Bar Association is calling on the federal government to release statistics on the number of male and female judges.

Association President Fred Headon says the government needs to collect and publicize that information to show what changes must be made to ensure that the courts reflect the makeup of the society they serve.

Headon makes the remarks in a speech to be delivered Friday in Ottawa to the bar association's annual conference on constitutional law.

Controversy has swirled over the gender composition of courts after the Toronto Star reported that Justice Minister Peter MacKay told the Ontario Bar Association that the dearth of women on the federal bench was because female candidates weren't applying.

The Star, quoting lawyers who were at the meeting, reported MacKay as saying women feared being sent to work on the circuit courts.

MacKay hasn't denied the Star's report but said later in a Facebook post that he has been trying to encourage the appointment of more women.

"Our courts at all levels have yet to reflect the gender balance and diversity of Canadian society," Headon says in a prepared text of his speech.

"We need hard information so we can gauge where we are at and what progress we are making — or not making. We need to see where the bottlenecks are so we can identify them and remove them."

Headon did not criticize MacKay for his remarks, but the justice ministers of Quebec and Ontario have, saying his comments were outdated and inaccurate.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2014
The Canadian Press

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