The Diversity of Manitoba Society

Manitoba’s Provincial Court is advertising a position as a Provincial Court Judge based in Winnipeg. Some of the requirements for those seeking the position are:

  • practised for not less than five (5) years as a barrister and solicitor in Manitoba;
  • a member in good standing of The Law Society of Manitoba;
  • and be entitled to practise as a barrister and solicitor in Manitoba;
  • or have other equivalent experience.

The Judicial Nominating Committee’s mandate is to “assess the professional excellence, community awareness and personal suitability of candidates, while taking into account the diversity of Manitoba society (c. 275, The Provincial Court Act).”

While the Provincial Court in Manitoba is, I suggest, much more representative of the “diversity of Manitoba society” than are many other courts in Canada (for example, of the 47 judges, 21, or 44% are women), the Judicial Nominating Committee cannot rest in this regard.

For a picture of the diversity of Manitoba society, one need look no further than the 2011 Census and National Household Survey data. According to those datasets, the demographic makeup of Manitoba includes:

  • 613,715 females and 594,550 males in a population of some 1.2 million;
  • 72.9% noted English only as their mother tongue and 3.5% noted French only while some 21.5% noted a non-official language as their mother tongue
  • Other than official languages, the most common mother tongues are German, Tagalog and Cree
  • 195,895 identify as Aboriginal (16.6% of the total population) and of those 58.3% identifying as single identity First Nations, 40.2% as single identity Metis, 0.29% as Inuk (single identity) and 1.1% as multiple Aboriginal or other Aboriginal identities
  • 153,625 identified as visible minorities (13% of the total population), and of those 38.5% identified as Filipino, 16.5% as South Asian, 11% as Chinese and 12.7% as Black

Taking into account the diversity of Manitoba society means taking into account all of these population figures, not only gender and language. It means taking into account that Manitoba society includes significant (and growing) Aboriginal populations and visible minority populations.

Manitoba’s Provincial Court has almost achieved gender parity, but remains far from reflecting the many other aspects of Manitoba’s diverse populations. I only hope that this Judicial Nominating Committee and others like it across the country will not only take diversity into account in their selection processes, but will also make it a priority in those processes.

Comments

  1. The news release announcing the most recent appointment to the Manitoba Provincial Court is available at: http://news.gov.mb.ca/news/index.html?item=33591&posted=2014-12-19