More work needed to achieve gender equality: Supreme Court chief justice

CALGARY — The head of the Supreme Court of Canada says progress is being made in attracting more women to the legal profession.

CALGARY — The head of the Supreme Court of Canada says progress is being made in attracting more women to the legal profession.

But Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin told a legal conference in Calgary on Monday that more work is necessary before equality is achieved.

McLachlin said that in the past there were always assumptions about the role of women in society and, to some extent, those assumptions are still in effect.

“Somehow we have a feeling that we could be doing better. So my challenge to you is to ask how can we be doing better and is the fact we’re not doing better related to some of these unstated assumptions?” she said in a speech to the Canadian Corporate Counsel Association’s national conference.

Even though more women are entering the law profession or moving into federal politics, Canada is a long way from total gender equality, McLachlin said.

“I would like to say we can do better,” she said. “We still only have 25 per cent of our members of Parliament as women and, in Ontario, 37 per cent of the practising bar are women despite the fact that women are graduating from law schools in slightly greater numbers than men.”

She suggested there are two main reasons why society would benefit from complete gender equality.

“First of all, because it is fair and is perceived to be fair and, second, because I actually believe it will help society and these institutions function a little better.” McLachlin, 70, is the longest-serving chief justice of the Supreme Court of Canada.

Her judicial career began with an appointment to Vancouver County Court in 1981. She then moved to the B.C. Supreme Court, the B.C. Court of Appeal and, in 1989, to the Supreme Court of Canada where she became chief justice in 2000.

She noted that things have improved from when she was growing up on a ranch near Pincher Creek in southwestern Alberta.

She said she was steered away from certain professions because of Grade 8 aptitude tests.

While she scored “off the chart” when it came to reading and English, the tests showed she lacked alertness.

“My teacher said you have the lowest score for alertness that we have ever seen and then she said, shaking her head sadly, ’I don’t know what to tell you but I know what you must not do … You must never become a waitress or a telephone operator’

“So that’s why I’m in the law.”

Follow (at)BillGraveland on Twitter

Just Posted

Man arrested in connection with violent home invasion

RCMP Emergency Response Team deployed

Gesundheit! Stifling a sneeze can cause injuries in rare cases, experts say

TORONTO — With cases of flu continuing to rise in Canada, there’s… Continue reading

‘Reprehensible’: Trudeau abortion policy raises ire of U.S. right

WASHINGTON — In what’s almost certainly a first in the lengthy history… Continue reading

Japan public TV sends mistaken North Korean missile alert

TOKYO — Japan’s public broadcaster mistakenly sent an alert warning citizens of… Continue reading

‘I shouldn’t have to have a husband:’ Winnipeg woman criticizes men-only club

WINNIPEG — A former chair of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce says… Continue reading

Replay Red Deer Jan. 14: Watch news highlights in pictures

Stories mentioned: Red Deer RCMP seize large quantity of cocaine: Read more… Continue reading

Advocate poll takers oppose plastic bag ban

Red Deer Advocate readers like their plastic bags. In an Advocate poll,… Continue reading

Photo: Chilly work in Veterans’ Park

What a chilly job but somebody has to do it.… Continue reading

Boy, 15, one of three hit in Vancouver shooting

Police believe a man in his 20s was the target of the shooting

UBCO psychology professor placed under supervision with focus on “boundary issues”

Dr. Stephen Porter has stepped aside from his teaching duties

Alberta elementary school teacher arrested on child porn charges

Investigators charged a 44-year-old Pincher Creek man with possessing, accessing, and distributing child pornography

Report: Health problems could arise as Alaska warms

Climate change in Alaska has the potential to create serious physical and… Continue reading

U.S. cold snap was a freak of nature, quick analysis finds

Consider this cold comfort: A quick study of the brutal American cold… Continue reading

Canadian Kennel Club seeking to add 12 more dogs to its pack

2018’s incoming class could include the Portuguese sheepdog, Tibetan mastiff, rat terrier and Spanish water dog

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month