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Due Process, #MeToo, and a Kick

Tue, October 09, 2018   |   Author: Vicki Gunn   |   Volume 25    Issue 41   

I was fascinated at the circus of Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination for the Supreme Court. It was not dignified as we expect a Supreme Court nomination to be. It was certainly exciting, but how could one not see the problem with having someone charged, tried, and convicted by the media?

I’ve struggled a lot since the #MeToo movement gained so much steam. While, like most people, I sympathize greatly with victims of crime — and sexual assault is a crime — but we live in a country where a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Before I go further, I better add the caveat… #MeToo. I worked in a place with a sexually abusive manager who was inclined to inappropriately touch, kiss, etc, the women under his supervision. Gross! — the remembrance of his lips nuzzling my shoulder! I cringe when I think of the man on the bus who sat beside me and ran his hand up my leg and the man in the bus station who undid the tie on my dress. All the most foul of memories. I did not report them because I was humiliated that it happened to me.

So, I could be castigated for not supporting the #MeToo movement. I know the shame women feel. We have seen lots of careers brought down, but what we have not seen is convictions in a court of law before the sentencing.

The legal process for sexual assault has become “she said it and that settles it”. There is no need for a court trial to look into the allegation and no need for a conviction by a jury of their peers. Our prime minister, who has shown a flagrant disregard for our laws, said “when women speak up, we have a responsibility to listen to them and to believe them.”

Except, of course, the woman who accused our Prime Minster. But, I guess, he’s different than the other men who inappropriately touch a woman.

Here’s the thing! Our Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms section 11(d) says: “Any person charged with an offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law in a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal”.

Those who have been charged, tried and convicted by the media have had their rights to: ‘being presumed innocent’ and ‘a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal’ violated.

Their lives have been irreversibly affected by the words of another without having the chance to defend themselves in a court of law. We’ve watch careers destroyed, jobs lost, reputations lost on the word of another person without the benefit of a legal conviction.

Did you ever wonder what happened to Jian Ghomeshi? I did! He was acquitted by a court of law. But, when I hear his name, I associate it with sexual assault. Did you wonder what happened to Bill Cosby? He was convicted in a court of law of assaulting a Canadian woman. Our legal system assumes innocence until evidence, before a court, proves guilt beyond a shadow of a doubt. This is the judicial system based in our historic Christian heritage.

The #MeToo movement allows women to exorcise some of the pain from past abuses but it is not a court of law. A woman opening up the wounds of sexual assault does not make the man guilty. It makes him accused of a crime. Guilt must be determined by an impartial judge.

Thankfully, Brett Kavanaugh faced an intensive investigation by the FBI before he was accepted as the American’s new Supreme Court Justice. The FBI have no reason to be ‘Trump friendly’ so, I’m sure, they dug as deep as they could to leave Trump with egg on his face over Kavanaugh but… nothing was found to prevent Kavanaugh assuming the position of Supreme Court Justice. It was important for justice to be served but … the thousands of women who demanded Kavanaugh’s conviction without due process must consider their own commitment to a legal system that is not perfect but seeks to serve them. Should they ever be erroneously charged with an offence and presumed innocent until proven guilty, they will appreciate receiving the benefit of the doubt.

We must ensure that no Canadian is charged, tried and convicted by the media. We must protect Canadians’ right to facing judgment only according to our Charter process.

Many of us have watched the video of Jordan Hunt assaulting a young pro-life demonstrator on October 2 at the Toronto Life Chain. My blood boiled! I am definitely not impartial.

The CHP condemns assault, but we must allow the justice system to move forward unfettered by either supporter or detractor of Hunt. He must go through the process. He has been charged by police, he will appear before a judge and, when this case has wended its way through our court, a decision will be reached and, should he be found guilty, his sentence will be given.

CHP Canada is committed to the concept of innocent until proven guilty. Whether it’s Trudeau, Ghomeshi, Hunt, or any other Canadian, we would protect their Charter right of presumed innocence until proven guilty in a court of law.

Use your good judgment and join CHP Canada today.

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