Two Firsts: Bertha Wilson and Claire L’Heureux-Dubé at the Supreme Court of Canada

Second Story Press
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Bertha Wilson and Claire L’Heureux-Dubé were the first women judges on the Supreme Court of Canada. Their 1980s judicial appointments delighted feminists and shocked the legal establishment. Polar opposites in background and temperament, the two faced many identical challenges. Constance Backhouse’s compelling narrative explores the sexist roadblocks both women faced in education, law practice, and in the courts. She profiles their different ways of coping, their landmark decisions for women’s rights, and their less stellar records on race. To explore the lives and careers of these two path-breaking women is to venture into a world of legal sexism from a past era. The question becomes, how much of that sexism has been relegated to the bins of history, and how much continues?
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About the author

Constance Backhouse is a Professor of Law at the University of Ottawa. She has published a number of prize-winning books such as Petticoats and Prejudice: Women and Law in Nineteenth-Century Canada; Colour-Coded: A Legal History of Racism in Canada, 1900-1950; and Carnal Crimes: Sexual Assault Law in Canada, 1900-1975. Her latest book, Claire L’Heureux-Dubé: A Life, was published in 2017. She was named to the Order of Canada in 2008.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Second Story Press
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Published on
Mar 8, 2019
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Pages
238
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ISBN
9781772600940
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / General
Biography & Autobiography / Lawyers & Judges
Biography & Autobiography / Women
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Backhouse presents detailed narratives of six court cases, each giving evidence of blatant racism created and enforced through law. The cases focus on Aboriginal, Inuit, Chinese-Canadian, and African-Canadian individuals, taking us from the criminal prosecution of traditional Aboriginal dance to the trial of members of the 'Ku Klux Klan of Kanada.' From thousands of possibilities, Backhouse has selected studies that constitute central moments in the legal history of race in Canada. Her selection also considers a wide range of legal forums, including administrative rulings by municipal councils, criminal trials before police magistrates, and criminal and civil cases heard by the highest courts in the provinces and by the Supreme Court of Canada.

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Winner of the Joseph Brant Award, presented by the Ontario Historical Society

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