Monday, June 16, 2008

Judge not, lest ye be judged

Superior Court Justices in Alberta are referred to as “My Lord” and “My Lady.” This is no empty formalism. It is not a quaint anachronism left over from a bygone era. In family courts across the land, judges hold effectively the same powers over separated parents as feudal lords held over their serfs, and it pleases them to exercise this power without much restraint.

A perceptive cultural anthropologist studying Canadian family courts in the 21st century would notice a second feature reminiscent of feudal society: the inveterate chivalry that pervades the entire family-law system. Our Lords and Our Ladies reflexively defer to women in court, especially mothers. Motherhood is sacred; the role of our noble knights in shining armor on the Bench is to protect it at almost any cost.

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