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

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

by Constance Backhouse

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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?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781772600940
Publisher: Second Story Press
Publication date: 03/08/2019
Series: A Feminist History Society Book
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 238
File size: 5 MB

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.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1. Childhood and early schooling: Scotland and Quebec 2. Bertha Wilson, the minister's wife 3. The decision to study law 4. Claire L'Heureux and Laval University Law School 5 .Bertha Wilson and Dalhousie Law School 6. L'Heureux-Dube's practice in Quebec City and marriage 7. Bertha Wilson's practice in Toronto 8. Practising as a woman 9. First judicial appointments: "No woman can do my job!" 10. Claire L'Heureux-Dube and the Quebec Superior Court 11. Claire L'Heureux-Dube: Family tragedy and the Quebec Court of Appeal 12. Bertha Wilson and the Ontario Court of Appeal 13. Appointments to the Supreme Court of Canada, 1982 and 1987 14. Contrasting family lives 15. Chilly reception in the Supreme Court of Canada 16. Bertha Wilson's Supreme Court decisions 17. Claire L'Heureux-Dube's Supreme Court decisions 18. The conundrum of feminism and the complexities of race 19. Retirement and after 20. Conclusion Endnotes Index

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