Former interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose is worried senators are sitting on her bill that mandates sexual assault training for judges, fearing further delays could threaten the bill’s passage as a possible prorogation of Parliament looms.
“I am worried, but I’m still optimistic,” Ambrose said in an interview with CBC News. “Justin Trudeau gave me his word that he would do everything he can to help see it through.”
Ambrose said her private member’s bill is stuck at second reading in the Senate, more than a month after it was unanimously passed by all parties in the House of Commons. She wants members of the Red Chamber to take action now, before the imminent summer recess, to help restore confidence in the judicial system for sexual assault victims.
“I’m not sure what’s going on, but I’ve offered to meet with any senator … it’s my number 1 priority,” Ambrose said. “I’m hopeful that senators feel the same way about the importance of these kinds of issues.”
The legislation will make it mandatory for all lawyers to pursue sexual assault training before seeking a judicial career, something she says is needed after a series of recent high-profile cases revealed many judges adhere to archaic stereotypes about women who are subjected to sexual violence.
For example, former Federal Court judge Robin Camp, berated a sexual assault complainant for not fending off her attacker. Camp asked the woman, “Why couldn’t you just keep your knees together?” and, “Why didn’t you just sink your bottom down into the basin so he couldn’t penetrate you?” (Camp later resigned after the Canadian Judicial Council recommended he be removed from the bench.)
Accusations of Senate delays
It is not the first time there have been complaints of delays in the upper house. Conservative senators have adjourned debate on a whole host of Liberal government legislation for months, including the transgender rights bill. Tories have also pushed off votes on the late Liberal…