N.S. barristers' group asks Douglas Ruck to conduct review into discrimination

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Douglas Ruck will conduct a systemic discrimination review for the Nova Scotia Barristers' Society. (Vernon Ramesar/CBC - image credit)
Douglas Ruck will conduct a systemic discrimination review for the Nova Scotia Barristers' Society. (Vernon Ramesar/CBC - image credit)

The Nova Scotia Barristers' Society says systemic discrimination exists within its organization and in the justice system as a whole and it will work to eliminate it.

In a public statement on its website, the society said it has appointed lawyer Douglas Ruck to conduct an independent review of its policies and processes and to address areas of systemic discrimination.

Craig Garson, the president of the society, told CBC's Mainstreet that the organization has heard from its members and members of affected communities that barriers exist to entering the profession, and that there are difficulties once they are in the profession.

"They're telling us, though they know we've been trying, and are trying, that we have to do better," he said. "We have to do more."

He said the society has inadvertently created barriers that make its systems "not welcoming and not inclusive" and there is a need to respond.

'Professional experience'

Garson said Ruck was chosen to lead the review because of his "extensive lived and professional experience."

In addition to his legal background, Ruck is a former provincial ombudsman.

"He knows how to conduct reviews and investigations and to do them with integrity and with respect," Garson said. "He knows what the public wants. He knows what we're expecting."

Garson said Ruck will be given full access to the society's systems and structures.

Interim reports

Ruck is expected to provide interim reports on his progress and identify and propose solutions and changes to "eliminate or mitigate" systemic discrimination.

Garson said minority communities in Nova Scotia have been disproportionately negatively affected by systems and structures in many institutions, including the barristers' society.

"Members of these minority communities in Nova Scotia have simply not had the same advantages for advancement and opportunities for promotion as others have. And that's the root of systemic discrimination right there," he said.

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.

<cite>(CBC)</cite>
(CBC)

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