Wildrose leader wants new judges to get training in sexual assault law

Wildrose leader wants new judges to get training in sexual assault law

Wildrose Leader Brian Jean will introduce a motion Thursday calling on the province to give potential judicial appointees training on sexual assault law, to prevent complainants from being revictimized in court.

"If passed, [the motion] would pressure the justice minister to ensure that those being considered for judicial appointments in Alberta have successfully completed a course on the current state of the law on crimes of a sexual nature, particularly sexual assaults," Jean said.

The motion also calls on the government to ensure current lawyers and judges are up to date on sexual assault law and the myths and stereotypes about victims.

Jean's motion comes after Federal Court Justice Robin Camp resigned after the Canadian Judicial Council recommended he be removed from the bench.

When he was a provincial court judge, Camp asked the complainant in a sexual assault trial why she "couldn't just keep [her] knees together."

Recently a judge in Halifax acquitted a cab driver of sexual assault by suggesting the accused had the consent of his intoxicated and unconscious passenger.

"Surely, a drunk can consent," the judge said.

'Inappropriate' to tell judges what to do 

Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley said it is difficult for the province to tell judges what to do as the judiciary is independent from government.

"It would be a little bit inappropriate for me to be directly telling them how to decide," Ganley said. 

What she can do is provide judges with opportunities for education. 

"That's absolutely our role. We will continue to do that."

Ganley said the province provides $200,000 in grants so judges can take courses with the National Judicial Institute.

Ganley said judges are expected to take their professional duties seriously and that includes taking courses to ensure their knowledge of the law is up to date