Sexual-assault education now required for new Ontario judges

May 18, 2017
Article Source
The Globe and Mail

Training on sexual assault issues will now be required for new provincial judges in Ontario, following outcry over judges' comments about complainants in other parts of the country.

A recently updated Ontario Court of Justice plan specifies that an education program for newly appointed judges is now mandatory.

The program, which includes instruction on legal and equality issues, has always been a key component of judicial education, but previously wasn't expressly included in the plan as a requirement, said a court spokeswoman.

"The newly appointed judges education includes education on sexual assault issues but it is not exclusively focused on sexual assault," Kate Andrew said in a statement.

Politicians from both the Ontario Liberals and Progressive Conservatives have been pushing the issue at the provincial legislature, with two private members' bills seeking to mandate such training.

The issue has made headlines recently after an Alberta judge, who has since resigned, asked a sexual assault complainant why she couldn't keep her knees together, and a Halifax judge said "a drunk can consent," while acquitting a taxi driver of sexual assault.

There is also a bill before the House of Commons from interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose that would require anyone who wanted to be considered for a federal judicial appointment to undergo comprehensive training in sexual assault law.

Though the new Ontario judicial training requirement applies to new judges, it does not apply to current judges. Ontario Attorney General Yasir Naqvi said there is ongoing training that judges receive, but what exactly it entails and how much is up to the court.

Read more: Sexual-assault education now required for new Ontario judges