Tuesday, August 11, 2009
2009 vs. the Dark Ages?
In the high-profile trial of Ottawa mayor Larry O'Brien, the residing judge made the decision not to use corroborating evidence for the Crown's key witness because it was given by a mother who commutes to work.
Mr. "Justice" Douglass Cunningham of the Ontario Superior Court is 69 years old and chose to disregard the evidence given in court and under oath by Queen's Park politician Lisa MacLeod because he felt she was "distracted."
MacLeod is a 34 year old wife and mother who commutes during the week from Ottawa to Toronto for her job in Queen's Park. Judge Cunningham said that this is a big distraction for her, and as a result he could not accept her testimony as corroborative evidence.
Nancy Peckford is the national director for Equal Voice, an organization promoting women in public office, and she hit the bull on the nose when she told Globe & Mail reporters that "it is unfortunate that any woman in Ms. MacLeod's situation may be regarded as less reliable because of the demands placed on her life as a politician...Would the same approach have been taken with a male politician who is commuting and has a young family at home? Probably not."
Why is it that in our modern, 21st century society women are still expected to place child-care as their top priority in life? Men can have careers and families without anyone judging them for neglecting their children; in fact, the "absent/working dad" syndrome is so commonplace and accepted in our society that it is almost cliche. Yet reverse the situation and a woman who prioritizes her career is instantly rebuked and negated for having abandoned her children and family. We do not know every detail of Ms. MacLeod's life story, and no one, especially a judge, has the right to assume her thoughts and feelings about the cost of her job as a politician on family life.
If a Toronto mother witnessed a murder in Detroit while on a business trip, would her witness testimony be ignored on the grounds that she must have been too "distracted" at the time of the crime to provide substantial evidence?