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Abstract

This article calls for a renewed commitment to judicial education on the roles that gender, race, class and other biases can have on judicial decisions and impartiality. This article also calls for the appointment of a more representative and diverse judiciary. An explosion of activity occurred for about a decade between the late 1980s until the late 1990s to promote and implement social context education for judges to help judges understand the realities of people most unlike themselves, and to appoint judges to be more representative of the population of Canada. But this trend has diminished to the point that judicial gender and other forms of bias are now rarely talked about or included in judicial education curricula. Judicial appointments once again are tilted sharply in favor of white male partners in large law firms. This article argues that this disparity raises valid concerns about judicial impartiality, and new concerns about equality and discrimination are beginning to emerge. The first part of this article discusses the history of judicial education in Canada and the leadership role the Canadian judiciary took in creating and developing groundbreaking judicial education programs on social context issues both in Canada and internationally. The second section discusses case law since 2000, critiquing it for the paucity of social context analysis and preference for white male judicial appointments. The conclusion calls for a renewed effort to create socially relevant judicial education in current times and for a more representative judiciary.

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