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Lecture 11

CRM402 (Criminal Justice and Inequality) - Presentation, Lecture 11 "Women & Inequality" Notes

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Department
Criminology
Course
CRM 402
Professor
Christina Hollingshead
Semester
Winter

Description
SLIDE 1 - Introduction SLIDE 2 The Charter of Rights and Freedoms is a topic that feminists and marginalized groups have been concerned about in terms of rights and inequality, since Canada has a history of racist and sexist rule of law. It‟s really evident in the way they word the Charter – “persons” and “he” if the law refers to a single person. A main critique about the Charter is that it originated from a white, male left ideology. A lot of criticism about the Charter focuses on the negative uses that can (and have been) made against the Charter. SLIDE 3 We‟re just going to quickly explain some of these criticisms: - the idea of “formal equality” (individuals are portrayed as formal equals, taken out of their social relations of inequality, which basically masks inequality, making it harder for marginalized groups to prove inequality or discrimination - not to oversimplify it, but it basically renders them almost invisible, since they are, as the textbook put it “depoliticize” the issues - Because the Charter is applied to government action so exclusively, it is also criticized as reinforcing the segregation between public and private, enabling powerful private sectors to evade social responsibility and we see this all the time; white collar crimes, like the Westray mining disaster, private sectors are almost immune to the Charter‟s rules SLIDE 4 Feminists take the Charter from a different standpoint; these criticisms we‟ve talked about are cautions to rejecting the Charter, but not reasons. They view the Charter as one of many tools to expose and argue in favour of women‟s and other marginalized group‟s inequality. Their focus is on establishing access to basic civil and political rights, not to suggest that women deserve more than men or that women are better than men in any way. There were times that feminists weren‟t sure that an anti-discrimination provision would be adequate purely because there had always seemed to be a need for additional protection for women with such a long history of sexual discrimination complains under the Canadian Bill of Rights.  S. 28 Notwithstanding clause: “Notwithstanding anything in this Charter, the rights and freedoms referred to in it are guaranteed equally to male and female persons.”  Considered fairly important by feminists in hopes that that it would be effective SLIDE 5 QUESTION: Should the word „persons‟ in Section 24 of the British North America Act, which we now know as the Constitution, of 1867 include female persons?” SLIDE 6 As mentioned, women activists take the Charter and use it as a tool to fight for women‟s equality and one of the best examples is the Person‟s Case of 1929. The Canadian Supreme Court did not recognize women as “persons” under s. 24 of the British North America Act, and it prevented women from being appointed to the Senate. Emily Murphy, of the Famous Five, on her first day of being a magistrate, had her ruling challenged by a lawyer because she was not a “person”, therefore deemed unfit to perform the duties of a magistrate. So, Emily wanted to challenge that – but she needed at least five women to start and sign the petition. And so, she led four other women – Henrietta Edwards, Louise McKinney, Irene Parlby, and Nellie McClung in the case of Edwards v. Canada (Attorney General). When the Supreme Court ruled that women were not “qualified persons”, they took the case to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (the JCPC, court for last resort). On October 18, 1929, the Privy Council overturned the Supreme Court‟s decision.  "that the exclusion of women from all public offices is a relic of days more barbarous than ours. And to those who would ask why the word "person" should include females, the obvious answer is, why should it not?" This case has become quite the monument in the fight for women‟s rights in Canada. SLIDE 7 Obstacles and losses – as with every starting cause or movement, losses were inevitable. We‟d like to talk about three very important ones for women activists: R. v. Lavell R. v. Morgentaler R. v. Bliss SLIDE 8 Canada v. Lavell The Supreme Court of Canada held that S. 12(1)(b) did not violate the respondents‟ right to “equality bef
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