Judges should be elected by the people, not appointed by Christian Fundamentalist Prime Ministers. Judges should have to run for office like every other politician, because in a fundamental sense, that’s what they are. They bring their own biases and political affiliations to the bench that heavily influences their rulings. And in many US States judges do have to run for election. The Canadian public should be able to ask judges how they feel about abortion, gay rights, universal day care centres, the war in Afghanistan, all the money that goes into the military, about decriminalizing drugs, and particularly questioned about the environment.
When judges rule on environmental issues we should be able to demand that they know something about the particular environmental dispute they will rule on. It’s heart breaking to see judges rule on environmental issues they know nothing about but have the power of life and death over, that is, which forests shall live or die, which salmon bearing streams, which watersheds, which wet lands. Nature has inherent rights and should be brought before the court as living things, not dead matter.
My last appeal to be heard by the Supreme Court of Canada has just been dismissed. This case concerned Eagleridge Bluffs. The judge in BC who heard the BC Liberal government’s original application for an injunction knew nothing about the environment of the area and accepted a biased environmental assessment when only one third of the area had even been apprised.
But under Stephen Harper human rights issues are also on the block. Before there is another federal election Stephen Harper will have appointed seven of the nine Supreme Court judges of Canada. Poor us. Poor Canada. Poor Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We will have a majority of Conservative, Christian Fundamentalist Supreme Court judges, or ones in sympathy with this majority, who will rule on women’s rights, gay rights, the business model as life model, and the privatization of anything public that can be privatized. This is not fair. It is not right. But who will stop it?
For a long time I have held the belief that women as a group can actually change our seemingly comatose society into one that recognizes the following things…that corporations are not people and should not be treated as such by the courts, that the corporate model is not a model for our children (or anybody) to emulate, that private banks are causing poverty throughout the world and must be changed into public banks, that First Nations must be celebrated instead of ignored, that “gonzo pornography” is evil, that prostitution is a shame of the male world, and that there is an terrible discrepancy between the amount of our country’s wealth and attention toward hockey and other competitive sports to the determent of real news and real needs. Even the CBC leads the news with sports announcements, excitedly and approvingly, gushing about the obscene wealth generated by these games while BC leads the nation in child poverty.
We know when our entire court system is geared to the wishes of alpha males (corporate heads) instead of to justice. We need a women’s court; a mother’s court. A court by and for women, where women can demand better protection against rape and domestic violence, where we can learn to understand the law (and translate it from elitist legal jargon into regular English, French) and can refute case law when it is egregiously wrong in its rulings on the environment and human rights. I believe that women are the sleeping giant of our times and “when awakened the earth will tremble.” And rejoice.