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Archive for April, 2011

This recent decision is very interesting food for thought following the FLF’s roundtable discussion on expert evidence with Dr. Emma Cunliffe. In J.A.A., the majority of the Court decides in favour of diminishing the weight given to evidence of a sexual assault complainant in favour of a third party expert adduced by the defence. Given all that we discussed at the roundtable (see a summary here: https://feministlegalforum.wordpress.com/2011/03/30/what-feminism-can-teach-us-about-expert-evidence-roundtable-summary/), this is a very troubling decision indeed. It seems to me that this kind of reasoning re-inforces the notion that a sexual assault victim is not to be trusted and an outside, medical expert is the best person to evaluate the “truth”. Does the high standard for a conviction justify introducing this kind of knowledge? What about the fact that the defence sought to introduce this evidence after the trial?

Read a summary here and comment with your thoughts:

http://www.thecourt.ca/2011/04/21/r-v-j-a-a-scc-splits-over-he-said-she-said-in-sexual-assault/#more-9122

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A few links to consider as we prepare to vote:

http://www.opseu.org/vicepresidentsmessage/february-25-2011.htm

http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/804414–conservatives-accused-of-culture-of-intimidation?bn=1

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From Katrina Onstad at the Globe”

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/relationships/news-and-views/katrina-onstad/feminism-and-fashion-the-other-two-solitudes/article1984515/

*Editorial note: we at the FLF are still stuck in exam period. Soon it will all be over and we hope to bring you some great content soon!

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France’s no-niqab law comes into effect tomorrow. This international context is important, both in terms of international equality concerns, and as Quebec continues to move ahead with its own no-niqab legislation.

Read more about France’s law:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/europe/its-curtains-for-veils-as-france-rolls-out-anti-niqab-law/article1979147/

And read LEAF’s excellent backgrounder on equality and niqabs here:

http://www.leaf.ca/features/documents/C3/Niqab%20Backgrounder%20(May%2011%202010).pdf

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Take a study break and find the opinion piece here:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/editorials/liberalize-prostitution-laws-to-protect-women/article1979140/

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Read the story here:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/ottawa-notebook/liberals-wont-fire-candidate-for-disgraceful-remarks-on-sexual-assaults/article1974963/

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Feminist activists united in Toronto this past weekend for a self-proclaimed “slut walk” to protest the sexism that still persists in policing and justice around sexual assaults. This protest is particularly interesting because it was spurred by comments made by a police officer while speaking to students at Osgoode Hall. The turn-out was huge – reported to be over 3,000 people. But one has to wonder – why did it take over two months after the comments were made? And how many law students joined in the protest? One would hope that the law students were at the fore of organizing this march, but my own current pessimism around whether or legal education encourages us to confront sexism or simply teaches us how to use the law to reinforce it has left  me doubtful. I am relieved that staff and students at York demanded an apology, but a little activism from the legal community can go a long way. On this note, if you are a law student at Osgoode who participated in the march, or in other activism around this event,  please let us know! In the meantime, here’s what the Institute for Feminist Legal Studies at Osgoode had to say: http://ifls.osgoode.yorku.ca/2011/02/what-not-to-wear/

And a Globe report on the march: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/toronto/women-walk-the-talk-after-officers-offending-slut-remarks/article1969430/

Election fever is back in Canada – or with the current apathetic climate, more of an election cold, or perhaps just an election sniffle. There’s lots of talk happening on the campaign trail, but notably missing (at least from media reports) are feminist issues. While Stephen Harper said today that a majority Conservative government would avoid socially conservative moves like cracking down on abortion, this shouldn’t stop us from questioning his government’s track record (or, for that matter, how it is possible for a government to limit access to abortion without making it illegal…) This government has been bad for equality, but that doesn’t seem to be on anyone’s radar. Examples are numerous, so why isn’t anyone talking about it? Let’s take a little tour of recent history:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2006/10/04/tory-funding.html

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/ottawa-refuses-to-fund-abortion-in-g8-plan/article1547671/

(take this one with a grain of salt – its Liberal campaign literature)http://www.liberal.ca/newsroom/news-release/canadian-women-worse-years-harper/

http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/abortion-pressure-target-of-bill-90919469.html

Let’s re-visit that last article for a moment – Conservative MP Rod Bruinooge introduced a private member’s bill in the house that would have seen coercing women to get an abortion become illegal. Many commentators believed this to be a “back-door” attempt to re-introduce the abortion debate, a move not supported by the PMO. So if the Conservative party itself rejected this, why does it matter? Well, Mr. Bruinooge is the MP for Winnipeg South, the riding that encompasses the U of M. In a way, all U of M students and staff are therefore also represented in Ottawa by Mr. Bruinooge. His approach to equality issues, and in particular abortion, is extremely troubling.

Bruinooge is chair of the parliamentary “pro-life caucus”. He once wrote to the National Post stating “”I have no choice but to advocate for the unborn and seek to have their value restored in my Canada. Our collective future depends on it.” His opinion piece in the National Post “Why I am Pro-Life” makes the analogy that since you can’t make the choice to sell your kidney on the black market because it is unethical, abortion too should be illegal. I would link this piece, but it seems to have disappeared from the National Post website in the last week.

Some things to think about!

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