Today, West Coast LEAF is in Calgary for the start of the judicial inquiry into remarks made by Justice Robin Camp during a sexual assault trial in Alberta provincial court in 2014. The Canadian Judicial Council inquiry will determine whether Justice Camp will be removed from his current position of federal court judge.

The well-publicized remarks have caught the attention of the Canadian public, as well as the Canadian Judicial Council, for good reason.

During the trial, Justice Camp asked the complainant, an Indigenous woman who was 19 years old and homeless at the time of the alleged assault, “Why couldn’t you just keep your knees together?” He referred to her as “the accused” throughout the trial and remarked that “sex and pain sometimes go together […] that’s not necessarily a bad thing” and that “young wom[e]n want to have sex, particularly if they are drunk.”

Such egregious statements by a sitting judge have broad repercussions, threatening survivors’ access to the equal protection of the law and undermining women’s equality, as well as the public’s trust in our justice system.

Survivors of sexual assault face multiple barriers to reporting and prosecuting sexual assaults. The justice system should not be permitted to disregard the laws that protect sexual assault complainants from unfair attacks on their credibility and unfounded assumptions that they gave consent.

That’s why West Coast LEAF and a national coalition of women’s organizations is speaking up to remind our justice system that rape myths and stereotypes should have no place in our nation’s courts. All Canadian women deserve to have access to a fair and equal justice system free from rape myths and stereotypes.

“Justice Camp’s shocking comments perpetuate harmful stereotypes and myths about sexual assault complainants,” says Raji Mangat, Director of Litigation at West Coast LEAF. “His remarks in this case contribute to a chilling effect on survivors. Faced with the knowledge that this kind of unfair and demeaning treatment may be waiting for them in the courtroom, women may be less willing to report their assaults and to provide evidence at trial, which denies justice, puts women’s safety at risk, and adds to public distrust of the system.”

The inquiry into Justice Camp’s conduct will conclude September 9.

Read more about West Coast LEAF’s involvement in this case, including our submission.