The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: orgs/canadian/canada/justice/ethnocultural-groups/ecg-009-00

Archive/File: orgs/canadian/canada/justice/ethnocultural-groups/ecg-009-00
Last-Modified: 1997/01/29
Source: Department of Justice Canada

                                                CHAPTER NINE
                                  ACCESS TO OCCUPATIONS AND.
                           PROFESSIONS IN THE JUSTICE SYSTEM


Many of the reports reviewed for this study called for the
increased presence of minorities as justice system
actors.<238> Historically, such recommendations were first
made with respect to the police, with the objective of
bringing about better policecommunity relations. More
recently, the need for greater representation in other
justice system professions and occupations, including court
administration, probation, parole, and corrections, has been
expressed.<239> In particular, the need for greater
representation by minorities among prosecutors, defence
counsel, and judges has been recognized.<240> As noted
above, there is also a great need for in reased
representation of members of minority groups as
decisionrnakers in administrative bureaucracies.

The literature suggests several reasons why the increased
representation of minorities as justice system actors would
be beneficial in terms of reducing bias in the system.<241>
First, the day-to-day on-site presence of minority persons
may reduce the degree of bias that occurs because they would
be less likely to engage in biased behaviour and more likely
to resist unequal treatment that they may encounter. As
well, the increased presence of minorities may reduce the
perception of bias in the justice system. The presence of
members of minorities in the justice system in sufficient
numbers would show observers and those in conflict with the
justice system that minorities are also part of the system.

Second, the presence of members of minority groups in the
system, working side by side with non-minority persons,
might furnish a powerful means of consolidating the lessons
contained in cross-cultural sensitization. Integration at
this level could dissipate stereotypes more effectively than
by using other, more formal, measures.

Third, the incidence of discrimination might be decreased.
The presence of people sensitive to racism themselves might
increase the extent to which racist incidents are detected
and dealt with effectively.

Fourth, minority persons might be able to recognize the
characteristics of the

individuals involved as well as the internal conditions
which are part of the structure and
process of the system that produces systemic discrimination.
Thus, if minority justice
system actors are able to influence how minorities are
treated in the system at a structural
level, they might be able to help reduce systemic
discrimination, which may be pervasive
throughout the justice system in various subtle forms.

Finally, minority members in the justice system may serve as
role models for other members of minority groups. Thus,
recruitment of minorities to the justice system may be

9.1 Employment Equity in the Justice System

Over the past 20 years, attention has focussed on measures
to ensure that police forces have equal representation of
minorities.<242> There has been some success in achieving
employment equity, particularly in urban police forces,<243>
but some still believe much more is required to eliminate
all practices that might have an adverse impact on
recruitment. <244> Etherington notes several of the reports
he reviewed suggest that to achieve employment equity
objectives in police forces, legislation, such as the
Ontario _Police Services Act_, 1990,<245> might be required.
The extent to which legislation accelerates employment
equity in police organizations has not been demonstrated by
empirical data. An assessment of the Ontario situation might
be instructive here.

As the police are the most important contact between the
public and minorities, the emphasis that has been placed on
the recruitment of minorities by police forces is
understandable. It is clear, however, that representation in
other elements of the justice system can also have
beneficial effects. Governments should devote effort to
recruit minorities to all positions throughout both the
criminal and non-criminal justice system. It is even more
important to ensure employment equity measures are adopted
with administrative bureaucracies because of the greater
frequency of contact.

9.2 Access to Legal Professions

Access to the legal profession as prosecutors, defence
lawyers, and judges implies access to legal education. The
study by Mazer and Peeris<246> determined that, in 1986,
visible minorities were seriously underrepresented among
lawyers in Canada. Since that time, several Canadian law
schools have implemented recruitment policies to encourage
students from minority backgrounds, modified curricula to
address minority issues, and attempted to make the general
environments of law schools more receptive.<247>

Currently, because of such efforts, members of visible
minorities are no longer underrepresented, relative to their
representation in the overall population in Canadian law
schools.<248> However, when the size of a particular
minority group is relatively small, the group can be
strongly represented in the legal profession relative to its
share of the population, and still be represented only by a
few individuals. There may be a "visibility threshold" for
effective or consequential involvement in the justice system
which would not be achieved by a strict numerically
proportionate representation. This is an issue which should
be considered by all organizations with employment equity
requirements. Strict quotas may not be enough. It may be
necessary to determine a functionally effective threshold
based on operational characteristics of the organization,
and to set employment equity targets to ensure that the
number of minority group members and their locations in
organizations, are sufficient to satisfy the objectives of
employment equity.

9.3 Outreach

Socio-economic data suggest that many recently arrived
immigrant groups, which, to a large extent, represent
visible minorities in Canada, have relatively low average
income and educational level.<249> This places many members
of visible, and other, minorities at a disadvantage in terms
of eligibility for legal education.

In addition, among certain groups, the justice system and
the professions within it, represent authority to be feared
and avoided. The view that the system is corrupt and the
source of unfair treatment is not uncommon, and may be the
basis for avoidance of occupations in the justice
system.<250> The perception of inaccessibility and avoidance
may be strengthened by the absence of role models in the

The organizations of the legal profession -- the Canadian
Bar Association, the provincial bar associations and law
foundations, and the university law faculties -- might work
together to conduct outreach programs that could include
working with ethnic associations to promote professions in
the law, encouraging and supporting law schools to continue
to set more favourable admission policies and curricula,
establishing scholarship funds for minority law students,
and supporting the establishment of pre-law orientation
programs similar to one for aboriginal students at the
University of Saskatchewan.

9.4 Cross-cultural Sensitization and Recruitment

Enhanced cross-cultural sensitization measures for all
justice system actors should be developed with respect to
increased recruitment for two main reasons. There are
socialization processes in all occupations to initiate new
recruits into the practises of the group. This socialisat on
may operate against the multicultural objectives of greater
sensitivity by initiating new recruits into the conventional
assumptions, behavioral norms and practices of the
occupational groups. Thus, the objective of achieving
greater sensitivity is lost or at least seriously impaired.
To assure that new recruits are not captured by the
traditional practices of the organization, thus squandering
the potential benefits of their presence, organizations
should develop enhanced sensitivity training to work with
recruiting minorities.

There is often prejudice and hostility by members of
different minority groups. This may be fuelled by such
typical factors of multi-ethnic societies, as society
economic competition and strong mobility ambitions. It may
be rooted in hostilities learned prior to immigration. This
suggests a note of caution with respect to the first reason
for encouraging increased recruitment of minorities outlined
at the beginning of this chapter. While it may be generally
true that the increased presence of minorities will tend to
diminish racism in the system, the desired effect may not be
achieved without some special efforts. It cannot
automatically be assumed that recruits to the justice-system
from minority groups will present ideal attitudes and

For the reasons noted above, as well as to protect the role
model advantage of minority recruits presented in Chapter
Nine, cross-cultural training and the recruitment of
minorities as justice system actors should be carried out at
the same time in mutually supportive ways. These issues
should be monitored as they are implemented in the justice
system and in administrative bureaucracies in order to learn
how to better implement these two important multicultural

Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.