CAS study reveals stark racial disparities for blacks, aboriginals

The disparities are quite striking and like all studies, force questioning into the reasons why, including implicit bias:

New research that for the first time calculates disparity in Ontario’s child protection system has found that aboriginal and black kids are far more likely to be investigated and taken into care than white children.

The figures are especially stunning for aboriginal children. They are 130 per cent more likely to be investigated as possible victims of child abuse or neglect than white children, and 15 per cent more likely to have maltreatment confirmed.

Aboriginal children are also 168 per cent more likely to be taken from their homes and placed into care.

The huge disparity is “symptomatic of the system that’s failing our kids,” says Steven Vanloffeld, executive director of the Association of Native Child and Family Service Agencies of Ontario.

The study also found that black children are 40 per cent more likely to be investigated for abuse or neglect than white children, and 18 per cent more likely to have maltreatment confirmed. But the likelihood of going into care is lower. Black children are 13 per cent more likely to be taken from their homes and placed with foster parents or in group homes.

Margaret Parsons, executive director of the African Canadian Legal Clinic, blames the disparity on the “harsher lens” children’s aid societies use when investigating black families.

“What they might not consider abuse or neglect within a white or non-African Canadian family, they will consider abuse or neglect in one of our families,” she says. “This is not a matter of erring on the side of caution. We feel it is punitive.”

The provincial government, which regulates the child protection system, must make the development of an African Canadian child welfare strategy a priority, she adds.

The estimates were extracted from the government-funded Ontario Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect, compiled in 2013. A team of researchers, led by University of Toronto Prof. Barbara Fallon, examined a representative sample of 4,961 child protection investigations conducted by 17 children’s aid societies. The cases involved children up to age 14.

Of the dozen specific ethnic and racial categories examined, only black and aboriginal children were taken into care at rates higher than white kids.

The study was presented to more than 70 senior children’s aid society officials at a June 7 meeting in Toronto.

The disparity study calculated the relative likelihood of certain groups being involved with the child protection system. It differs from the study on disproportionate representation revealed by an ongoing Star investigation, which found that on a September day in 2013, 42 per cent of kids in the care of the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto had at least one parent who is black. Only 8 per cent of the city’s under-18 population is black.

The disparity results coincide with mounting outrage about the disproportionate number of aboriginal and black children in care. Parents and leaders in these communities have for years blamed discrimination and a lack of services for struggling families.

Source: CAS study reveals stark racial disparities for blacks, aboriginals | Toronto Star

Feds won’t fight ‘sweetheart’ Quebec immigration program despite B.C. fallout | Vancouver Sun

Given the number of files the government has with the provinces and Quebec, not surprising that there is no desire to reopen the agreement. But the disparity is striking, although it would be helpful to have a comparative table for all provinces, comparing the per immigrant numbers over the past 10 years.

The abuse of investor immigrant programs, both the cancelled federal program and Quebec’s program, has been well documented:

The Trudeau government says it has no interest in challenging Quebec’s “sweetheart” immigration system, even though West Coast critics say two components of that province’s system effectively hurt B.C.

“I’m quite happy with the relationship that we currently enjoy with Quebec,” Immigration Minister John McCallum said in an interview after confirming that he won’t pursue changes.

Jason Kenney, considered a leading challenger for the Conservative Party leadership if he remains in federal politics, fumed when he was immigration minister about “fraud” in Quebec’s Immigrant Investor program.

That program lets wealthy foreigners effectively buy permanent residence status in Canada, but research has indicated that most settle outside Quebec and especially in B.C.

As a result, Quebec gets the financial benefits from the cash-for-visa program while, say critics, B.C. has to deal with both the positives and negatives associated with the arrival of wealthy migrants.

Benefits for B.C. include the stimulation of the economy with luxury purchases. But new arrivals — including the spouses and children of “astronauts” who work and pay taxes overseas — also use public education and health care services, plus they play a role in driving up real estate prices.

The federal government shut down its own investor program in 2014 due to public criticism and the widespread perception that the cost outweighed the benefits.

Kenney, who also complained about a “sweetheart” 1991 deal that gave Quebec a hugely disproportionate share of federal immigrant settlement dollars, was never able to convince cabinet colleagues and the bureaucracy to take on Quebec.

McCallum said he also has no interest in shutting down the investor program or taking steps that would require Quebec to keep rich immigrants in the province longer.

“It’s not something we can control even if we wanted to, because once you are a permanent resident the Constitution allows you to live wherever you want to live in Canada.”

He also said he will not try to renegotiate the 1991 Canada-Quebec immigration accord, agreed to at a time when the sovereignty movement was at its strongest.

It granted Quebec an annual grant starting at $75 million a year in immigrant and refugee resettlement money.
That $75 million would be worth about $117 million in today’s dollars. However, the generous escalator clause included in the 1991 deal has resulted in Quebec getting almost triple that post-inflation amount, or $345.1 million, in the 2015-16 fiscal year.

The formula, based on past immigrant intake as well as Canada’s economic growth figures, results in steady and sometimes dramatic increases.

The federal government was unable to provide comparative figures Thursday on how much it spends in provinces outside Quebec for immigration resettlement.  Prior to the former government’s decision to take over control of that work in 2012, the B.C. government was getting roughly $3,000 from Ottawa for each permanent resident arriving on an annual basis.

That compares with the $6,600-a-head subsidy going to Quebec.

Source: Feds won’t fight ‘sweetheart’ Quebec immigration program despite B.C. fallout | Vancouver Sun

It Is Time To Redefine Canada’s Vertical Mosaic | Jack Jedwab

Interesting article by Jedwab on the ‘vertical mosaic,’ teasing with a brief discussion of cultural factors but not following up with any information about individual group disparities.

The two charts below, taken from INSERT, indicate the persistence of income differences in second-generation immigrants, both more generally and the university-educated young.

For all second-generation, the disparities with non-visible minorities and among different visible minorities groups are greater.

While for most groups, median incomes for the university-educated are broadly comparable to non-visible minorities, that is less the case for Latin American and Black Canadian men.

The redefinition of the ‘vertical mosaic’ needs to look more at both the overall and the group differences to assess the ongoing impact of external bias and discrimination along with any internal cultural factors and preferences that may also contribute to these disparities:

Median Income G2 VisMin


Porter made several significant observations about the economic inequality between people of British and French origins and “others” (what he called “minority ethnics”). Porter carefully documented the French population’s lower-income status and disagreed that their situation could be blamed entirely upon the British desire for economic dominance. He insisted that French-Canadian under-representation in the country’s economic elite was as much related to their values as it was to cultural discrimination.

A major part of the problem in French Canada was the dominance of the Catholic Church, which Porter felt reinforced cultural difference, encouraged separateness and diminished educational opportunity. Much has changed since the 1960s with the onset of Quebec’s Quiet Revolution and the ensuing rise to relative economic parity between French and English Canadians. Regrettably Porter said relatively little about the condition of indigenous peoples in Canada’s class structure, a persistent concern that 50 years later still badly needs national attention.

Porter was persuaded that persistent minority ethnic attachments were the principal obstacle to immigrant and minority economic advancement. This conviction was central to his ultimate objection to multiculturalism adopted by the Trudeau Liberal government in 1971. If the Canadian mosaic was vertical, Porter largely blamed it on the encouragement that multiculturalism offered to newcomers and their descendants to retain their ancestral identities. Most European origin post-war immigrants and their children would probably disagree with Porter’s assessment of multiculturalism as constituting such an obstacle.

Canada is now a much larger and more ethnically diverse country than the one Porter studied in 1965. The 1961 census reported that there were approximately 18.5 million Canadians compared with nearly 34 million in 2011.

Prior to the 1970s, immigrants from European countries accounted for over three-quarters of those coming to Canada. For many European origin groups, the story of their place in the vertical mosaic over the past fifty years ended up being one of noteworthy upward mobility. The groups that Porter saw as being locked into some lower status (Ukrainians, Italians, Poles, Finns and Czechs and Slovaks) have generally moved up the socio-economic ranks. The children of Southern and Eastern European immigrants who came to Canada in the late 1940s and 1950s are in retired age and, for the most part, they witnessed the erosion of the ethnically defined barriers to economic mobility.

Today, over three-quarters of immigrants to Canada hail from non-European countries and are defined as visible minorities. The growth in the visible minority population has seemingly changed the nature of the vertical mosaic and the portrait of inequality in Canada. The question that preoccupies researchers is whether the upward mobility experienced by most European origin groups can be replicated by non-European immigrants and their children. Several analysts are decidedly pessimistic about such prospects and argue that “race” has replaced ethnicity as the new dividing line within the Canadian mosaic.

But there are some important caveats to keep in mind when making observations about the economic dream of recent newcomers to Canada. Unlike the post-war immigrants that often came to the country with little formal education, most recent arrivals are a highly educated bunch. Data from Canada’s 2011 national household survey reveal that immigrants that arrived in Canada between 2001 and 2009 were twice as likely to have a university degree as a person born in Canada. Hence in most cases newcomer expectations for their own personal success is higher than was the case for the immigrants in the era Porter documented. While many newcomers want their children to do better than them, an increasing number will be satisfied if they do as well. That’s also a concern for many non-immigrants.

The contemporary version of the Canadian dream for many of us is perhaps more modest. It’s something akin to owning a home and staying out of debt (these two things may seem contradictory to many Canadians).

Recently, the earning power of many university degrees has stagnated. According to Statistics Canada’s 2012 Survey of Financial Security, student debt rose by 44.1 per cent from 1999 to 2012, or 24.4 per cent between 2005 and 2012. So too has the cost of owning a home in Canada. In the final quarter of 2015 Statistics Canada reported that the ratio of household credit-market debt to disposable income, the key measure of the debt load, rose to 165.4 per cent.

Sure interest rates are at record lows and there is fear that a slight rate hike will make the dream of personal debt reduction more elusive. The gap between the highest paid Canadians and others has widened in recent years. The wealthiest 20 per cent of Canadians hold 70 per cent of the country’s wealth.

Source: It Is Time To Redefine Canada’s Vertical Mosaic | Jack Jedwab

Pluralism in Action: How infrastructure, immigration policy are key for Silicon Valley North

As I am involved in the Pluralism Project and attended the Ottawa roundtable, interesting to see how the discussions in other centres reflect some of the regional concerns and issues, and the expectations for policy expectations:

In April, the Pluralism Project hosted a roundtable discussion with business leaders, industry associations and university administrators from Ontario’s Kitchener-Waterloo region. The meeting was the first in a series of roundtables organized across major Canadian cities by a research team at the Balsillie School of International Affairs, with the support of the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation. The Pluralism Project seeks to understand how social diversity can be harnessed for greater economic advantage.

My particular challenge was to see how pluralism is working in this specific community, where the tech industry often reigns supreme. What I discovered is that acknowledging the social benefits of diversity isn’t so much the issue, but that the challenge is to attract and retain that diversity in what has been called Silicon Valley North.

The Global 2015 Start-Up Ecosystem Report ranked Waterloo among the world’s top 25 start-up ecosystems. The region’s success, in part, relates to ongoing collaboration between academic institutions, business, municipal government and settlement organizations like the Waterloo Region Immigrant Employment Network. Despite being a growing hub of innovation, however, Kitchener-Waterloo faces a set of unique challenges unlike other Canadian cities its size: attracting and retaining a diverse workforce with skills for specialized sectors.

Workplace diversity is a clear objective of all participants at the KW roundtable. Still, data gathered by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives continues to rank KW as the worst city to be a working woman in Canada, partly relating to its male-dominated occupations. Data compiled and analyzed by Compass, a San Francisco based company, highlights further obstacles preventing the region from growing organically and, in turn, attracting and retaining diverse talent.

Kitchener-Waterloo’s current and projected growth spurt – in terms of population, housing and transportation infrastructure – speaks directly to these challenges. Companies like Google and Toyota have invested in the region, and with that investment comes the need for a globally competitive workforce and talent pool, one that reflects the globality of the products produced. It is unsurprising then that tech executives, city mayors and academics are looking to turn the 114-km stretch between KW and Toronto into an innovation corridor.

Better transportation infrastructure, roundtable participants argued, would allow companies to bring diverse talent – in terms of culture, ethnicity, religion, gender and sexual orientation – to Kitchener-Waterloo more easily and provide those living in the region with cultural and social outlets in Toronto.

Infrastructure is but one variable. The Waterloo region is also subject to a skilled labour shortage across industries, including the tech and automotive industry. While both the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University produce top-notch students, the policy infrastructure to retain international students remains insufficient. The same holds true for qualified labour from outside Canada. The diagnoses put forward at the roundtable held across the board: immigration policy is too slow and labour intensive, credential recognition is often protectionist and bureaucratic, and international study and work experiences often go unrecognized. Again, this is problematic for workplace diversity.

The Canadian federal government continues to invest in Waterloo-based institutions like the Perimeter Institute, and its tech industry, with a vision to build Canada into a centre of global innovation. In a country celebrated for its pluralism, however, investing in a region like Waterloo without giving due consideration to its challenges in attracting and retaining diverse talent could leave Canada’s economy disadvantaged, and its innovation economy trailing its competitors. Actionable policy recommendations, based on hard numbers, produced by the Pluralism Project will aim to provide insight and solutions to such dilemmas.

Source: Pluralism in Action: How infrastructure, immigration policy are key for Silicon Valley North

Study examines mental health in common ethnic minorities in Ontario

Not surprising, both the increased prevalence and the lower use of mental services:

Ethnocultural minorities are more likely to report suffering from mental health issues but are less likely to access treatment, a study out of York University using Ontario Health Study (OHS) survey data has found.
Participation in the OHS includes an extensive online survey that asks each user to review a list of ethnocultural groups and check those they thought they belonged to. The survey also included questions related to common mental health problems such as depression, anxiety and social isolation. Researchers looked at self-reported data from some of Ontario’s most common minority groups, such as South Asian, East Asian, Southeast Asian and Black Ontarians, and measured them against a comparable group of OHS participants who identified as white.

“Minority groups were much more likely to report mental health problems and stressful life events,” said Professor Sherry Grace, also of the University Health Network. “And with the exception of Aboriginal Ontarians, we also found that they were less likely to use the mental health services that we have here. This is unfortunate because there are proven treatments for depression and anxiety that really work.”

The stresses of adapting to a new country could be one of the reasons driving this, suggests Professor Grace.

“Most people who immigrate are very healthy, but studies show that being away from family, as well starting over in one’s career, and the financial repercussions of this, are tough” she says.

Study examines mental health in common ethnic minorities in Ontario

Young immigrants twice as likely to be religious than Canadian-born: Todd

Worth noting:

Young and middle-aged immigrants to Canada, most of them from Asia, are countering the trend that sees homegrown Canadians becoming more secular.

I’ll write more in the future on a revealing Angus Reid Institute poll, which has found immigrants between the ages of 18 and 34 are more than twice as likely than the average Canadian to be actively religious.Young immigrants super religious

While 21 per cent of people born in Canada attend religious services, that figure jumps to 49 per cent for young immigrants — whether they are Muslim, Christian, Buddhist or Sikh.

Here’s an excerpt from the Angus Reid Institute website:


  • People born outside Canada are considerably more likely to attend religious services than people born in Canada (35% versus 21%).
  • Young arrivals aged 18-34 and 35-54 (increasing numbers of whom are coming from Asian and African countries) are much more likely to actively attend services than their older counterparts (49% for the young compared to 27% of those 55 and older).
  • Additional analyses shows a similar, though somewhat weaker pattern holds for the religious self-designations of younger arrivals from other countries: 42 per cent of those who are 18 to 34 say they are embracing religion.
  • Similarly, 38 per cent of 35 to 54-year-olds born elsewhere are embracing faith – also well above the level for their Canadian-born counterparts.

Interestingly enough, it looks as if the largest religious group among immigrants in recent times has been Roman Catholics.

The second largest religious group among immigrants is Muslims, who have a much lower average age.

Religions of immigrants to 2011

Source: Young immigrants twice as likely to be religious than Canadian-born | Vancouver Sun

Women have ‘transformed’ the PS, except at the very top

Interesting study by Marika Morris of Carleton (disclosure: know Marika from my time in government and I was interviewed for the study). Diversity of mindset is the hardest issue to address, given the normal homogenizing influence of corporate and public sector cultures:

Women have broken all gender barriers in Canada’s public service in ways few countries can boast — until they hit the deputy ministers’ “club” where some complain there’s little “diversity of mindset,” says a new report.

It’s among the findings of a new Carleton University study, Women’s Leadership Matters, into the impact of female leadership on the public service, where women now hold more than 55 per cent of the jobs and 46 per cent of all executive positions below deputy ministers.

At the top, however, women haven’t made the same progress. They held about one-third of the deputy minister jobs when the study was conducted between 2014 and 2015.

Marika Morris, an adjunct research professor who led the study, said women and visible minorities do well when hiring is based on open, merit-based competitions, but they “don’t do as well” when the prime minister makes “at pleasure” appointments into deputy minister jobs.

The study is part of the Women in Public Service Project, run by the Washington-based Wilson Centre, aimed at getting women into 50 per cent of the world’s public service jobs by 2050.

Canada already stands out in the world with a public service that exceeds the 50-per-cent female target. This study examined the impact women are having on shaping the public service and whether that impact could be measured.

The study, based on 26 in-depth interviews with former and current executives, comes 25 years after the milestone 1990 report of the Task Force on Barriers to Women in the Public Service.

Morris said the process of picking executives up to the assistant deputy minister level was seen as fair and rigorous, but that it “became more mysterious and less transparent” for deputy minister appointments.

Morris said women have made such huge inroads at the senior levels that the perception of the top ranks being an “old boys’ club” no longer exists.

There is, however, a perception of a “certain mindset” among deputy ministers and a preconceived notion of what a leader is “so they pick people who look like them and that becomes difficult to change,” said Morris.

“Just because we have more women and visible minorities, it doesn’t mean we’re truly diverse if we keep promoting people like us. Typically introverts, economists, policy wonks … There is a typology if you look at who gets promoted,” one respondent said.

Morris said such concerns were raised by only a few respondents but were strong enough to warrant further study.

Women have ‘transformed’ the PS, except at the very top

Public servants scramble to fill data deficit on Liberals’ priorities

Understandable given difficult cut choices recommended by the public service and approved at the political level (with the previous government’s anti-evidence and anti-data bias), with predictable impact on the quality of analysis:

If Prime Minister Justin Trudeau really is a data geek, he couldn’t have been encouraged by what some federal departments had on hand.

Internal documents obtained by the Star suggest years of belt tightening has led to a data deficit in Ottawa, gaps that may “create challenges” in delivering on the Liberal government’s priorities.

Early childhood learning and child care, expanding parental leave, increasing youth employment, and expanding training for apprentices and post-secondary students all figured prominently in the Liberals’ election platform.

But as of November, the department responsible for making good on those promises was worried they didn’t have enough concrete data to deliver.

“Spending on surveys has been reduced over the last several fiscal years and has been concentrated on priority areas to help manage financial pressures,” read documents prepared for the senior public servant at Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC).

The Liberals have made “evidence-based decision-making” a watchword for their early days in office, and senior staff in the Prime Minister’s Office are known for their attachment to data-driven strategy.

A spokesperson for Families, Children and Social Development Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said the issue is government-wide, not isolated in their department.

“This is an issue that all ministers are facing right now. We do know that there are gaps in the data the government owns,” Mathieu Filion told the Star in an email.

“There are many discussions on the matter with different minister’s offices as to see what will be done to acquire more data.”

According to the November documents, Statistics Canada was largely preoccupied with the restoration of the long-form census, but had identified a number priority files.

Along with ESDC, StatsCan was looking to revive “longitudinal surveys” to fill in gaps. Longitudinal surveys are more expensive and time consuming than other methods of collecting data, but the documents suggest they can give greater insight into “the dynamics of life events” and have a greater payoff when continued over a number of years.

StatsCan’s wish list includes greater labour market information (specifically aboriginal participation, unpaid internships, temporary foreign workers, and worker mobility), better information on children’s physical and mental health development, and more data on Canada’s aging population and the resulting effect on the economy and the health-care system.

The agency says the digital economy remains largely in the dark, as well.

“The use of digital technologies is an important and growing phenomenon and stakeholders are increasingly demanding statistical products to address questions on the topic,” the documents read.

“While the agency has been doing some feasibility work on Internet use by children, the incidence of cybercrime amongst Canadian businesses, and has developed some questions for the inclusion in various surveys, there remain important data gaps.”

ESDC is also interested in learning more about Canadians’ “computer literacy” and use of the Internet.

Source: Public servants scramble to fill data deficit on Liberals’ priorities | Toronto Star

Laïcité: Lisée défend son «approche graduelle» 

Further to yesterday’s article (Gérard Bouchard désapprouve Lisée à la direction du PQ), the reply by Lisée:

Contrairement à Gérard Bouchard, Jean-François Lisée est convaincu que son plan pour contrer la présence de signes religieux dans la fonction publique passerait l’épreuve des tribunaux.

En entrevue avec La Presse, mardi, le candidat à la succession de Pierre Karl Péladeau a défendu son «approche graduelle» en matière de laïcité.

Le candidat à la direction du Parti québécois (PQ) propose de commencer par exprimer aux fonctionnaires «la préférence de l’Assemblée nationale» pour l’absence de signes religieux dans «un signal clair», avant de laisser les organismes publics où un consensus existe les interdire carrément à l’embauche. Le tout accompagné d’un respect des droits acquis pour les employés embauchés avant l’entrée en vigueur d’une éventuelle loi Lisée.

«Est-ce que c’est compliqué? Oui. C’est plus compliqué de respecter le rythme des Québécois que d’agir avec du mur-à-mur. Mais je me fonde sur la lente marche du Québec vers plus de laïcité depuis les années 60», a-t-il dit en entrevue téléphonique.

«C’est très progressif. Je veux continuer à ce rythme-là. On marche vers plus de laïcité, mais sans brusquer les choses», dit M. Lisée.

En entrevue avec La Presse, le réputé sociologue Gérard Bouchard avait encensé le programme d’Alexandre Cloutier, en plus de critiquer durement celui de son adversaire Jean-François Lisée.

L’approche de ce dernier «ressemble étrangement à la Charte des valeurs», a-t-il évalué. C’est une attaque en règle contre celui qui s’est dissocié peut-être le plus radicalement du projet de Bernard Drainville après la défaite péquiste de 2014.

Peu importe cette prise de distance. Avec les propositions de Lisée, «on est encore en violation de droits, de notre charte. On ne s’éloigne pas beaucoup des controverses, on rouvrirait ce panier de crabes», a dit craindre M. Bouchard. «Cela nous amène plus en arrière qu’en avant.»

«Moi, je suis en désaccord total avec l’évaluation de M. Bouchard», a répliqué le député de Rosemont au téléphone. «Je pense qu’on ne peut absolument pas dire que la Cour suprême du Canada refuserait les mesures que je propose. Est-ce qu’il y aurait contestation? Bien sûr. Il y a toujours contestation de tout.»

Source: Laïcité: Lisée défend son «approche graduelle» | Philippe Teisceira-Lessard | Politique québécoise

Liberal appointments signal intent to diversify Canadian judiciary

More analysis by Sean Fine on the Government’s first batch of judicial appointments:

The Liberal government has begun to change the face of the Canadian judiciary, appointing an aboriginal judge, an Asian-Canadian judge and a prominent member of the LGBT community in its first set of 15 appointments – of which just three were white males.

Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould also signalled the government’s intention to take a different approach from its Conservative predecessors by promoting two human-rights specialists, including one who fought for gay rights in a landmark case, to Alberta’s highest court.

The Liberals waited more than seven months to name a single judge to the federally appointed courts (provincial superior and appeal courts, the Federal Court and Tax Court), even as vacancies swelled to nearly 50 from about a dozen last summer before the election was called.

The first group indicates a shift in who sits as a judge in federally appointed courts – and who gets promoted. It includes Jonathon George of the Kettle and Stony Point First Nation in southwestern Ontario; like the Justice Minister herself, he is a second-generation lawyer. He was promoted to the Ontario Superior Court from the Ontario Court of Justice.

Douglas Mah, an Asian-Canadian, joins the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench.

Lucy McSweeney, the Children’s Lawyer of Ontario, was named to the Ontario Superior Court. She received a professional leadership award in 2013 from Out On Bay Street, a group that helps LGBT law graduates transition to working life.

“I think it’s sending a strong signal that for [the Liberals], merit involves considering the diverse perspectives that people bring to the law, and that includes the backgrounds and the communities they identify with,” said Paul Saguil, a Toronto lawyer and board member of Pride Toronto, who described Ms. McSweeney as a mentor to him. “That signal is important in instilling public confidence in the judiciary.”

Sheila Greckol, one of the two appointees to the Alberta Court of Appeal, represented Delwin Vriend, a teacher who was fired because he was gay, and fought all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada to establish that Alberta’s human-rights code discriminated by excluding gays from its protections. Justice Greckol was a labour lawyer who represented unions. Ms. Wilson-Raybould promoted her from the Court of Queen’s Bench to replace Russell Brown, who was an irreverent right-wing blogger as an academic.

Sheilah Martin, the other Alberta appeal court appointee, was the law dean at the University of Calgary with a long list of publishing credits to her name focused on the equality section of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. She, too, was promoted from the Court of Queen’s Bench.

During the decade-long tenure of prime minister Stephen Harper, that court became home to small-c conservative judges such as Justice Brown, who referred to Justin Trudeau in a 2008 blog as “unspeakably awful,” and Thomas Wakeling. (Mr. Harper later promoted Justice Brown to the Supreme Court of Canada.) And new judges appointed by Mr. Harper across Canada included barely a handful from visible minorities.

“The Liberals are back to doing what they’ve always done, which is to appoint people who are obviously left-wing,” Tom Flanagan, an adviser to Mr. Harper when he was opposition leader, told The Globe and Mail. He disputed that the conservatives appointed conservative judges. “The Conservatives were afraid to play the game,” he said.

Another observer said the Liberals were playing the same game as the Conservatives, but in reverse. “Individuals with those kinds of backgrounds [as Justices Greckol and Martin] were not being appointed under the Harper appointment process,” University of Alberta law professor Eric Adams said in an interview.

He said the Trudeau government’s first appointments, like those made during Mr. Harper’s decade in power, show “there is more than simply pure merit that’s at play. These aren’t appointments that are being made without consideration for candidates’ previous ideologies. And that’s not a criticism – I want to make that clear. In exercising its power of appointment, governments look for judges who, yes, are talented and fair-minded, but also align with the particular worldview of the government of the day.”

In all three promotions from superior courts to appeal courts, Ms. Wilson-Raybould shut out judges appointed by the Harper government, reaching back each time to the Liberal era of Paul Martin and Jean Chrétien. (The third of the three promotions put Judith Woods, a member of the Tax Court of Canada, on the Federal Court of Appeal.)

Source: Liberal appointments signal intent to diversify Canadian judiciary – The Globe and Mail