Bertha Wilson and Claire L’Heureux-Dubé were the first women judges on the Supreme Court of Canada. Their 1980s judicial appointments delighted feminists and shocked the legal establishment. Polar opposites in background and temperament, the two faced many identical challenges. Constance Backhouse’s compelling narrative explores the sexist roadblocks both women faced in education, law practice, and in the courts. She profiles their different ways of coping, their landmark decisions for women’s rights, and their less stellar records on race. To explore the lives and careers of these two path-breaking women is to venture into a world of legal sexism from a past era. The question becomes, how much of that sexism has been relegated to the bins of history, and how much continues?
About the Author:
Constance Backhouse is a Professor of Law at the University of Ottawa. She has published a number of prize-winning books such as Petticoats and Prejudice: Women and Law in Nineteenth-Century Canada; Coded: A Legal History of Racism in Canada, 1900-1950; and Carnal Crimes: Sexual Assault Law in Canada, 1900-1975. Her latest book, Claire L’Heureux-Dubé: A Life, was published in 2017. She was named to the Order of Canada in 2008.