WUFA Statement in support of Professor Danardo Jones
March 17, 2023
WUFA is gravely concerned about the treatment that Professor Danardo Jones of the University of Windsor Faculty of Law, has received from Conservative Member of Parliament, Larry Brock, while testifying before a Parliamentary subcommittee. https://rb.gy/yzun0b
In the strongest terms, we condemn Mr. Brock for engaging in shameful and egregious conduct that is beneath the dignity of the public office that he holds as a Member of the Parliament of Canada, and as an Officer of the Court.
Earlier this week, Professor Jones was invited to testify before a Parliamentary Subcommittee that was examining the role that racism may play in Canada’s bail system. Professor Jones is uniquely qualified to speak on these issues, as he is a nationally recognized expert in criminal justice, criminal justice reform, sentencing, criminology and race and the law. Professor Jones holds three degrees and is currently working towards completing his Ph.D. in Law. He is also a former practicing lawyer with ten years of experience, who has argued cases before the Supreme Court of Canada.
Despite Professor Jones’ impeccable credentials, from the moment that Mr. Brock began his questioning, he sought to call them into question in a very disturbing attempt to undermine Jones’ expertise in these issues. This conduct was beyond any reasonable attempt to debate the very serious issues faced by Black Canadians and other marginalized groups in our society in interacting with a Justice system that does not always treat all Canadians fairly. Immediately after being granted the floor, Mr. Brock acted in a dismissive, offensive, and accusatory manner, several times rudely interrupting Jones to imply that he was fabricating the information he was presenting (in fact, Jones’ information has been relied on by the Supreme Court of Canada in multiple cases), that Professor Jones was inexperienced in the practice of law (he has practiced for over 10 years in multiple provinces), and that Professor Jones was unaware of the recent literature and cases in this area (Professor Jones writes extensively on this subject). Mr. Brock cited the court findings in the cases of Antic (2017), Zora (2020), and Morris (2021) as evidence that there is now no systemic racism in bail and sentencing in Canada, and that Professor Jones’ “blanket assertions” about ongoing racism in the system are “inflammatory,” “offensive,” and “not based in reality.” Finally, Mr. Brock implied that the measures advocated by Professor Jones to remedy ongoing systemic failures regarding marginalized, Black and Indigenous persons were unnecessary because the legal system currently mandates ongoing legal education and training in this area. In actual fact, Courts and experts continue to deem this training inadequate. Mr. Brock’s statements clearly demonstrate that, sadly, we still have a long way to go.
Systemic bias and racism are a reality for many Canadians, including Canadians like Professor Jones who are fighting for change to make sure that our justice system is fair for us all. As Professor Jones states, debates about race are bound to make some people uncomfortable. How best to combat racism is something that stirs and will continue to stir debate across the country and is something that we encourage.
However, Mr. Brock’s conduct has gone far beyond what is reasonable and respectful debate in a free and democratic society. It is Mr. Brock’s conduct that we as academics find unacceptable and deplorable. WUFA calls on the Law Society of Ontario to investigate Mr. Brock because we believe that Mr. Brock’s behaviour, as an officer of the court, is conduct that may bring the administration of justice into disrepute. His behaviour is not becoming of an elected member of the Parliament of Canada. We support the call of our colleague, Dr. Natalie Delia-Deckard, to the Parliamentary Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner to open an investigation into Mr. Brock’s shameful conduct. We call on Pierre Poilievre, Leader of the Opposition to suspend Mr. Brock from his caucus until such time that Mr. Brock publicly apologizes to Professor Jones, and the Ethics Commissioner completes his investigation.
WUFA is proud to stand behind Professor Jones and his fight for a more fair and inclusive justice system for Canada. We urge Canadians to make their views heard, and ask that you contact your Members of Parliament to express your concerns about the unfair treatment received by Professor Jones.