Racial Diversity Gap in the Courtroom

Judicial DiversityFurther to recent news articles on the lack of diversity among federal judicial appointments, largely focused on Minister MacKay’s comments regarding women, good commentary by Tana Turner:

Without the data on how racial minorities and women fare in the hiring process, the argument often is that there is no evidence that there is a problem. Some also argue that low representation reflects the lack of qualified people or the lack of interest in the position.  Without an examination of the diversity gap, it is easy to hide behind the argument that “the problem is them, not us.”

When we look at the data we do have, as reported in the Toronto Star, the analysis does show that there is a racial diversity gap when we compare the representation of racial minorities among judges to their representation among lawyers, at least in Ontario.

Using the federal governments own method for analyzing whether this is an equity-related problem, this gives us a Racial Diversity Gap or severity ratio of .15 for federally appointed judges and .73 for provincially appointed judges. The governments own documents suggest that anything less than .80 is significant and requires that further analysis be conducted to investigate where the problem exists and goals be established to address the underlying issues and close the gap in representation.

Sometimes this investigation does find that applications from certain groups of people are low. But the Canadian Human Rights Commission says that this doesn’t let the employer off the hook. The perception that the workplace is hostile or unwelcoming, or that the process is unfair, are issues that the employer needs to address.

But to get to the point of collecting and analyzing diversity data among federally appointed judges, the Government of Canada, specifically the Minister of Justice, Peter McKay – needs to answer one fundamental question: does diversity among the country’s judiciary matter?

If Peter MacKay doesn’t think that having the best and brightest judges or having a judiciary that reflects and understands the diversity of the Canadian population are important, he should say so. If he thinks either of these are important, he should collect and release the data.

Racial Diversity Gap in the Courtroom – TURNER CONSULTING GROUP INC..

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

One Response to Racial Diversity Gap in the Courtroom

  1. Pingback: Why don’t we have more female judges? – Macleans.ca | Multicultural Meanderings

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