Big news this morning, as a new Supreme Court justice is appointed to take the spot vacated by retiring Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, who herself made news 17 years ago by being the first woman appointed chief justice.
I remember it very clearly because 17 years ago, I also made history. Though to be fair, my history-making was very personal. I'd just published my very first book, and it was a big deal to me. It was a smaller deal to the rest of the world, to be sure, but it made a few tiny waves.
I remember in particular my first radio interview about it, on Radio-Canada, which I had to do by phone. I was quite nervous about it. I'd been interviewed before, for television especially, but I was used to being interviewed by a real person right next to me, not someone sitting in a different building who knows where.
I'd rehearsed my lines, what I wanted to say about my book, and felt reasonably ready. I was wrong; the first question sent me spinning. As a writer who had also studied law (I have the degree, but I never worked as a lawyer), what were my thoughts on the appointment of the first woman chief justice?
I had none. I'd been consumed by the release of my own baby. I blurted something out that seemed to satisfy the interviewer, and we happily moved to the subject closer to my heart.
I don't particularly care that she was a woman, or that the next justice should be Aboriginal. I mean, good for them and everything. But at bottom I believe discrimination is wrong - both the negative kind and the positive kind. I object when people refuse to hire someone because of their sex, age, race or whatever. I also object to hiring someone specifically because they happen to check the right diversity boxes. Hire the best person for the job, I say, regardless of boxes.
It feels kind of quaint now, that people were so excited to have a female chief justice. And maybe one day we won't notice that someone in a position of power is Aboriginal or the child of refugees or what have you. Maybe one day we'll notice what people do, not what they look like, and that diversity boxes will look as historical and irrelevant as powder wigs.