Yet Another Incident from the Ontario Court of Justice Raises Concerns About Those Presiding.
A Justice of the Peace, presiding in Kenora, Ontario, decided that it was appropriate to make a racist remark, on the record, to an Aboriginal duty counsel in bail court this past August.
Yes, you read that correctly.
According to a court transcript, Justice of the Peace Robert McNally said the following in open court: "Sometimes I think we're in the middle of a Benny Hill set here. Nobody knows who Benny Hill is." Shannon McDunnough, who is Mi'kmaq and defence counsel from Legal Aid Ontario, responded by confirming that she knew who Benny Hill was.
Then, for reasons completely unknown or understood, McNally replied: "Your ancestors probably scalped him or something." Scalping, though possibly originating from Europe and Asia, is more widely associated with North American Aboriginals. Scalping involved removing the skin of the scalp from the skull of one's enemy, which often caused death.
Thankfully, McNally's shocking comments are the subject of a formal joint complaint filed by Nishnawbe-Aski Legal Services, Grand Council Treaty No. 3, and the Criminal Lawyers' Association. The complaint has been filed with the Justices of the Peace Review Council, requesting that McNally be removed from his position.
In a somewhat similar fashion, on November 9th, 2016, Justice Zabel who was also presiding in an Ontario Court, wore a "Make America Great Again" hat into open court and later said on the record: "brief appearance with the hat. Pissed off the rest of the judges because they all voted for Hillary, so I was the only Trump supporter up there, but that's okay." The hat remained perched on the edge of his courtroom desk, with the words facing towards the gallery for the entire day. Justice Zabel has since received a 30 day suspension without pay for his actions.
What's troubling about both Justice Zabel and JP McNally's comments is that they are meant to preside in court, with the pledge, responsibility and promise to remain impartial when adjudicating every case. Justice Zabel and JP McNally make multiple decisions everyday that affect the lives of those they preside over. Flaunting and fearlessly exposing their beliefs that are problematic and rooted or connected to racist stereotypes and ideology is more than offensive when it...