28 Osgoode Hall L. J. 507 (1990)
Will Women Judges Really Make a Difference

handle is hein.journals/ohlj28 and id is 513 raw text is: WILL WOMEN JUDGES REALLY MAKE
A DIFFERENCE?©
By MADAME JUSTICE BERTHA WILSON*
When I was appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada in
the Spring of 1982, a great many women from all across the country
telephoned, cabled, or wrote to me rejoicing in my appointment.
Now, they said, we are represented on Canada's highest court.
This is the beginning of a new era for women. So why was I not
rejoicing? Why did I not share the tremendous confidence of these
women?
First came the realization that no one could live up to the
expectations of my well-wishers. I had the sense of being doomed
to failure, not because of any excess of humility on my part or any
desire to shirk the responsibility of the office, but because I knew
from hard experience that the law does not work that way. Change
in the law comes slowly and incrementally; that is its nature. It
responds to changes in society; it seldom initiates them. And while
I was prepared - and, indeed, as a woman judge, anxious - to
respond to these changes, I wondered to what extent I would be
constrained in my attempts to do so by the nature of judicial office
itself.
In the literature which is required reading for every newly
appointed judge, it is repeatedly stated that judges must be both
independent and impartial, that these qualities are basic to the
proper administration of justice and fundamental to the legitimacy
of the judicial role. The judge must not approach his or her task
Copyright, 1990, Madame Justice Bertha Wilson.
* This paper was presented by Madame Justice Wilson at the Fourth Annual Barbara
Betcherman Memorial Lecture, Osgoode Hall Law School, 8 Febuary 1990.

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