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Harris inspiring young Black Canadians toward politics: MPs – Kamloops This Week

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OTTAWA — The election of Kamala Harris as vice-president of the United States will inspire more young Black women in Canada to engage in politics and run for office, says Velma Morgan, a Black Canadian activist based in Toronto.

Harris’s father was born in Jamaica, her mother in India. She is the first woman and the first Black or South Asian person elected to the vice-presidency.

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Through Morgan’s work as the chair of Operation Black Vote, a not-for-profit, multi-partisan organization that aims to get more Black people elected at all levels of government, she supported Annamie Paul in her bid for the Green party leadership.

“The combination of those two (Harris and Paul), young girls are seeing themselves,” Morgan said in an interview.

“Representation does matter,” she said. “You can’t be what you don’t see.”

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, who became the first person of colour in Canada’s history to run for prime minister during the 2019 election, said Harris’s election will encourage a future generation of Canadian women to get involved and run in elections.

“Each person who breaks a barrier inspires more people,” he said in an interview.

“We’re only here today because of the people who broke barriers before us.”

Singh said he was happy about — and proud of — the positive impact he had on young people of colour in Canada during the election campaign last year.

“Young kids would come up to me and literally tell me, ‘Thank you. Seeing you running for prime minister makes me feel like I could do anything,'” he said.

Liberal MP Greg Fergus, who is chair of the parliamentary Black caucus, said there is a need to elect more Black people to the House of Commons.

“I remember when there was only one Black MP in the House. And then we went to two, and then we stayed for a number of years, and then we went to five,” he said.

Fergus said there has been some progress, but the number of Black MPs do not yet represent the “democratic weight” of the Black population in Canada. According to the 2016 census, there were just under 1.2 million Black people in Canada, making up 3.5 per cent of the country’s population.

Morgan said Canada needs more Black policy-makers. Her organization facilitates training sessions and fellowships programs for young Black Canadians to encourage more of them to run in elections.

“We’re giving them the tools to participate, whatever way they want to participate, whether it’s to run, or to volunteer or to just help out,” she said. “We’ve been trying to get the word out to say, ‘You know what, we’re here, there’s not a lot of us, but we can change that by bringing a lot more people on.’ “

NDP MP Matthew Green, a Black person representing the riding of Hamilton Centre, remembers in 2008 when he gathered with his community to celebrate the election of Barack Obama as the first Black president of the United States.

But he said the goal shouldn’t only be to achieve representation and reflect the diversity of the population. It should also be to achieve inclusion and equity.

“Having diverse people, women elected, for me personally, is only important if their legacy is dismantling the barriers that they faced to get there,” he said.

He said people have traditionally been privileged in Canada by race, gender and economics.

“(The system is) disproportionately, advantaging white men … that still remains a fact,” he said.

“As a city councillor, the first elected person of African-Canadian descent in my city’s history, I was still racially profiled by police in my own community.”

He said Harris — a former district attorney in San Francisco and then attorney general of California — was part of a system that also incarcerated and disenfranchised Black and Latino communities and low-income people throughout her career. What really matters, he added, is whether she will be able to help marginalized people break barriers.

Former MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes, who left the Liberal caucus several months before the 2019 election to sit as an Independent, said that claiming “diversity is our strength,” as the Liberals often do, is misleading.

“Having people of different colours and different races or ideas within your systems or organizations does not mean that you’re going to build strength if those people feel excluded,” Caesar-Chavannes said in an interview Friday.

She said collective strength comes when Canadians make spaces inclusive, so racialized people can voice their ideas and feel like they belong.

“That for sure creates a system that is more fair and more just,” she said.

Caesar-Chavannes, expected to detail her disillusionment with the Liberal brand of politics in her upcoming book, “Can You Hear Me Now?” to be published in February, said she’s not optimistic.

“If we never address the root cause, and we keep putting Band-Aids on a situation, it’s not going to get better,” she said.

Singh said it’s sometimes hard to understand that Canada has systems that are designed to exclude people.

“We look at the way the criminal justice system works, we look at the way policing works, and realize that there are systems in place that have to be changed because, right now, they’re designed to discriminate,” he said.

Some of these systems have to be changed and some have to be dismantled, he said. But he said he believes there’s enough appetite in Canada for a person of colour to be elected prime minister.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 14, 2020

———

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

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Take politics out of judicial appointments | TheSpec.com – TheSpec.com

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With everything else going on these days, few Canadians probably noticed when the country’s most prominent legal advocacy group condemned the Trudeau government for the way it appoints judges.

That’s a pity, because the problem identified in an open letter from the Canadian Bar Association earlier this month is a big one. It threatens to undermine not only the faith Canadians have in their country’s justice system but the integrity of the system itself.

The specific practice the bar association zeroed in on was the federal government’s “political vetting of candidates,” which at the very least raises fears that Liberal politicians are quietly rewarding Liberal friends — and in a way that could influence the justice system.

It works like this. As part of its extensive vetting process for would-be-judges, the federal government uses the Liberal Party of Canada’s private database, which is called the Liberalist.

This list tells the government how much, if anything, a judicial candidate has contributed to the Liberal party and also states whether and when someone was a Liberal party member. If they participated in electoral campaigns or leadership races, that information is conveyed to the government, too.

The bottom line is the Liberalist lets the government know exactly how Liberal-friendly a candidate is. And therein lies the failing the Canadian Bar Association is railing against. There’s nothing untoward, for instance, about a lawyer contributing financially to one or more political parties. But such generosity should never be a factor in deciding whether that lawyer becomes a judge.

Public trust in Canada’s justice system largely relies upon having judges who are informed, fair — and apolitical. But thanks to the use of the Liberalist, the federal government’s current process for appointing judges is “open to speculation about political interference,” the bar association said in its letter, adding: “It is time to make the system less open to manipulation.”

A lot of people agree. Last week, the citizen’s group Democracy Watch filed a challenge of the appointment process in the federal court, alleging it is undermining the independence of the judicial system. Before that, former Liberal justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould confirmed in a recent interview that there was political pressure in the selection of new judges. And last year, Francois Landry, a Liberal official in the office of Justice Minister David Lametti, claimed the prime minister’s office was playing an unreasonable role in judicial appointments.

It shouldn’t be too hard for Canadians to agree there’s a problem that needs fixing, one that could politicize judicial appointments for social engineering purposes. After all, many Canadians were as outraged as their American neighbours when U.S. President Donald Trump succeeded in having staunch social conservative Amy Coney Barrett appointed as the nation’s new Supreme Court justice. Trump’s actions were widely criticized, not only because they came just before the election he ended up losing but because he was consolidating a conservative majority on America’s highest court that will likely last and influence the country for a generation.

Of course, American judicial appointments have long been politicized in a way that remains foreign to Canada. Moreover, when it comes to political pressure in Canadian appointments, a remedy may be on the way.

In the next few weeks, the House of Commons justice committee is expected to launch a study of the judicial appointment process. We wish it success. There are many vital qualifications every aspiring Canadian judge should possess. Being an identifiably staunch supporter of the Liberal Party of Canada should not be on that list.

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Take politics out of judicial appointments | wellandtribune.ca – WellandTribune.ca

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With everything else going on these days, few Canadians probably noticed when the country’s most prominent legal advocacy group condemned the Trudeau government for the way it appoints judges.

That’s a pity, because the problem identified in an open letter from the Canadian Bar Association earlier this month is a big one. It threatens to undermine not only the faith Canadians have in their country’s justice system but the integrity of the system itself.

The specific practice the bar association zeroed in on was the federal government’s “political vetting of candidates,” which at the very least raises fears that Liberal politicians are quietly rewarding Liberal friends — and in a way that could influence the justice system.

It works like this. As part of its extensive vetting process for would-be-judges, the federal government uses the Liberal Party of Canada’s private database, which is called the Liberalist.

This list tells the government how much, if anything, a judicial candidate has contributed to the Liberal party and also states whether and when someone was a Liberal party member. If they participated in electoral campaigns or leadership races, that information is conveyed to the government, too.

The bottom line is the Liberalist lets the government know exactly how Liberal-friendly a candidate is. And therein lies the failing the Canadian Bar Association is railing against. There’s nothing untoward, for instance, about a lawyer contributing financially to one or more political parties. But such generosity should never be a factor in deciding whether that lawyer becomes a judge.

Public trust in Canada’s justice system largely relies upon having judges who are informed, fair — and apolitical. But thanks to the use of the Liberalist, the federal government’s current process for appointing judges is “open to speculation about political interference,” the bar association said in its letter, adding: “It is time to make the system less open to manipulation.”

A lot of people agree. Last week, the citizen’s group Democracy Watch filed a challenge of the appointment process in the federal court, alleging it is undermining the independence of the judicial system. Before that, former Liberal justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould confirmed in a recent interview that there was political pressure in the selection of new judges. And last year, Francois Landry, a Liberal official in the office of Justice Minister David Lametti, claimed the prime minister’s office was playing an unreasonable role in judicial appointments.

It shouldn’t be too hard for Canadians to agree there’s a problem that needs fixing, one that could politicize judicial appointments for social engineering purposes. After all, many Canadians were as outraged as their American neighbours when U.S. President Donald Trump succeeded in having staunch social conservative Amy Coney Barrett appointed as the nation’s new Supreme Court justice. Trump’s actions were widely criticized, not only because they came just before the election he ended up losing but because he was consolidating a conservative majority on America’s highest court that will likely last and influence the country for a generation.

Of course, American judicial appointments have long been politicized in a way that remains foreign to Canada. Moreover, when it comes to political pressure in Canadian appointments, a remedy may be on the way.

In the next few weeks, the House of Commons justice committee is expected to launch a study of the judicial appointment process. We wish it success. There are many vital qualifications every aspiring Canadian judge should possess. Being an identifiably staunch supporter of the Liberal Party of Canada should not be on that list.

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Take politics out of judicial appointments – NiagaraFallsReview.ca

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With everything else going on these days, few Canadians probably noticed when the country’s most prominent legal advocacy group condemned the Trudeau government for the way it appoints judges.

That’s a pity, because the problem identified in an open letter from the Canadian Bar Association earlier this month is a big one. It threatens to undermine not only the faith Canadians have in their country’s justice system but the integrity of the system itself.

The specific practice the bar association zeroed in on was the federal government’s “political vetting of candidates,” which at the very least raises fears that Liberal politicians are quietly rewarding Liberal friends — and in a way that could influence the justice system.

It works like this. As part of its extensive vetting process for would-be-judges, the federal government uses the Liberal Party of Canada’s private database, which is called the Liberalist.

This list tells the government how much, if anything, a judicial candidate has contributed to the Liberal party and also states whether and when someone was a Liberal party member. If they participated in electoral campaigns or leadership races, that information is conveyed to the government, too.

The bottom line is the Liberalist lets the government know exactly how Liberal-friendly a candidate is. And therein lies the failing the Canadian Bar Association is railing against. There’s nothing untoward, for instance, about a lawyer contributing financially to one or more political parties. But such generosity should never be a factor in deciding whether that lawyer becomes a judge.

Public trust in Canada’s justice system largely relies upon having judges who are informed, fair — and apolitical. But thanks to the use of the Liberalist, the federal government’s current process for appointing judges is “open to speculation about political interference,” the bar association said in its letter, adding: “It is time to make the system less open to manipulation.”

A lot of people agree. Last week, the citizen’s group Democracy Watch filed a challenge of the appointment process in the federal court, alleging it is undermining the independence of the judicial system. Before that, former Liberal justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould confirmed in a recent interview that there was political pressure in the selection of new judges. And last year, Francois Landry, a Liberal official in the office of Justice Minister David Lametti, claimed the prime minister’s office was playing an unreasonable role in judicial appointments.

It shouldn’t be too hard for Canadians to agree there’s a problem that needs fixing, one that could politicize judicial appointments for social engineering purposes. After all, many Canadians were as outraged as their American neighbours when U.S. President Donald Trump succeeded in having staunch social conservative Amy Coney Barrett appointed as the nation’s new Supreme Court justice. Trump’s actions were widely criticized, not only because they came just before the election he ended up losing but because he was consolidating a conservative majority on America’s highest court that will likely last and influence the country for a generation.

Of course, American judicial appointments have long been politicized in a way that remains foreign to Canada. Moreover, when it comes to political pressure in Canadian appointments, a remedy may be on the way.

In the next few weeks, the House of Commons justice committee is expected to launch a study of the judicial appointment process. We wish it success. There are many vital qualifications every aspiring Canadian judge should possess. Being an identifiably staunch supporter of the Liberal Party of Canada should not be on that list.

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