Interim Conservative Leader Rona Ambrose speaks in the House of Commons on May 15, 2017. (Photo: Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)Ambrose's bill would also change the Criminal Code to require either recorded or written decisions in sexual assault cases, and would require the Canadian Judicial Council to report on continuing education courses on sexual assault law. The proposed legislation also has the support of one of the women at the centre of last year's high-profile trial of Jian Ghomeshi. Linda Redgrave says judges need to better understand the impact that trauma can have on the memory and behaviour of someone who has experienced sexual assault. Redgrave, whose identity was protected by a publication ban before she asked for it to be lifted, was among those who accused the former CBC personality of sexual assault before his dramatic and controversial acquittal in March 2016.
'It's luck of the draw'
Linda Redgrave is seen outside Ontario court of justice in Toronto on May 11, 2016. (Photo: Colin Perkel/The Canadian Press)Horkins also noted all he had to go on was the credibility of the complainants, which is not unusual in matters involving sexual assault. Horkins declined to comment, but a spokeswoman for the Ontario Court of Justice says all its judges are given education in "social awareness," including on issues related to gender-based violence and sexual assault. Redgrave said better and more consistent training could change the way judges determine the credibility of a sexual assault complainant. She said it could also help encourage more victims to turn to the courts. The Ghomeshi trial and ruling, both of which prompted an emotional debate about how abuse complainants are treated by the justice system, likely did the opposite, she added. "I think it sent a message loud and clear to tell people that if you try to come forward, your credibility is going to be taken down." In a written brief to the House of Commons committee that studied the proposed legislation, also known as Bill C-337, Redgrave and Toronto lawyer Helgi Maki argued the training for judges should include learning about "the neurobiological impact of trauma," as well as how to conduct a trial in a way that understands this impact. Drawing on the work of Lori Haskell, a Toronto clinical psychologist who specializes in trauma, Redgrave and Maki wrote that victims of sexual assault can find themselves feeling frozen and unable to fight back, have trouble making decisions, show no emotional expression after an assault takes place and experience memory loss.
New Democrats want to fast-track bill
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