Judge-Led Training Strengthens Confidence in the Canadian Justice System
Ottawa, 05 February 2020 - Canadian judges are committed to ensuring that all Canadians continue to have confidence in our justice system. We know that sexual violence complainants, in particular, can find the judicial process confusing and even traumatic. This has been a central concern not just for judges, but for both the Canadian Judicial Council and the National Judicial Institute, judge-led institutions that develop training for judges appointed by the federal government.
The Canadian Judicial Council is not responsible for training judges appointed by the provinces and territories, who conduct many sexual assault trials in this country. Provincial and territorial judges have limited access to National Judicial Institute training, due to lack of resources. However, the Canadian Judicial Council and National Judicial Institute have been determined to find solutions to this.
The way our justice system deals with sexual assault has seen significant changes over the past few decades. A sexual assault trial today is very different than it used to be. Before, people relied on myths and stereotypes that everyone now recognizes have no place in law. Today, judges have tools to keep these myths and stereotypes out of their courtrooms. Judges already receive training in criminal law, focused on sexual assault trials. Social-context education is incorporated into key training programs. They also have to take specific training to manage their courtrooms effectively and ensure everyone is treated fairly, with respect and dignity.
The federal government has introduced a bill aimed at strengthening the confidence of sexual assault survivors in the justice system. This is a laudable goal, and one with which the judiciary wholeheartedly agrees. The bill reiterates the importance of work that the Canadian Judicial Council and National Judicial Institute already do in developing training, as well as publishing summaries of training seminars that federally-appointed judges attend. This work is properly and exclusively the judiciary’s role. However, any solution that does not include provincially - and territorially-appointed judges is incomplete and falls short of the goal. The judiciary will continue to collaborate with the government and all stakeholders to strengthen our justice system for the benefit of all Canadians.
The Canadian Judicial Council and National Judicial Institute will continue to work on the kinds of effective and quality programs that have made Canada a world leader in judicial education and training in all areas of the law. A fact sheet about current training offered to federally-appointed judges can be found on the Council’s website at www.cjc-ccm.ca. More information about the National Judicial Institute can be found at www.nji-inm.ca.
Johanna Laporte, Director of Communications
(613) 288-1566 extension 313