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The Chilly Climate for Women Judges: Reflections on the Backlash from the Ewanchuk Case

Constance B. Backhouse

University of Ottawa - Common Law Section


Canadian Journal of Women and the Law 15:1 (2003) 167-93

The public furor that accompanied the release of Justice Claire L'Heureux-Dubé's decision in R. v. Ewanchuk in 1999 was both extreme and unprecedented. This article analyzes the Ewanchuk melee as a case study of the response of the legal community and the media to judges who are perceived as feminist. Drawing upon the "chilly climate" literature that has documented the problems faced by women in academia, it explores the environmental discrimination that makes it difficult for women judges, particularly feminists, to adjudicate on an equal basis with male judges.

Le tollé qui a accompagné la publication de la décision de Madame la juge Claire L'Heureux-Dubé dans l'arrêt R. c. Ewanchuk en 1999 était à la fois extrême et sans précédent. Le présent article analyse "l'affaire Ewanchuk" comme un cas type de la réaction de la communauté juridique et des médias aux juges qui sont perçues comme féministes. En puisant dans la documentation sur les problèmes profonds auxquels sont confrontées les femmes dans le monde universitaire, regroupée sous l'expression du "climat glacial," l'article explore la discrimination du milieu qui rend docile pour les femmes juges, en particulier les féministes, la tâche de rendre jugement sur un pied d'égalité avec les juges masculins.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 28

Keywords: Canada, Canadian, law, legal, Supreme Court, feminist, feminism, women, Ewanchuk, discrimination, judge, judges, bench, equality, gender, sex, L'Heureux-Dubé, justice, court

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Date posted: June 28, 2013  

Suggested Citation

Backhouse, Constance B., The Chilly Climate for Women Judges: Reflections on the Backlash from the Ewanchuk Case (2003). Canadian Journal of Women and the Law 15:1 (2003) 167-93. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2283981

Contact Information

Constance B. Backhouse (Contact Author)
University of Ottawa - Common Law Section ( email )
57 Louis Pasteur Street
Ottawa, K1N 6N5

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