Out of the mouth of a babe
Consider the recent influence-peddling trial of Ottawa Mayor Larry O'Brien. (He was cleared.)
Consider how the testimony of Ontario MPP Lisa MacLeod (PC-Nepean-Carleton) was regarded by the court.
Which is to say, hardly at all:
It's even more interesting that Judge Douglas Cunningham seems to have found that argument relevant, at least in part, saying in his judgment that MacLeod had "significant things going on in her life when she gave her statement to police in early May 2007," noting that she had to leave her husband and child at home to go to work. These weren't the only reasons the judge found her testimony to be of "little weight." Still, none of the male witnesses -- all of whom also had busy, stressful jobs, and presumably, family obligations -- were subjected to skepticism related to their personal lives.
UPPITY WOMAN DATE: Here is the actual decision by Judge Douglas Cunningham (PDF). Scroll down to paragraph 61 where the relevant bits begin.
Note that his reasons for for discounting MacLeod's testimony had more to do with her lack of precision than her femitude. It was defence that tried to knock her down by citing her personal stresses.
UP THE LAZY JOURNALISTIC RIVER DATE: This story began at the Ottawa Citizen -- and then got picked up by the Globe and Mail and CTV -- and then got out of control.
And so, back to the Ottawa Citizen.
The important issue in this instance is that MacLeod gave inconsistent accounts — with difference that were significant in the outcome of the trial — of her conversation with Larry O'Brien ... and Cunningham was positing some possible explanations. If it's simply off-limits to say that very busy people, male or female, might not precisely recall conversations from years ago, then we're left with the explanation that MacLeod gave inconsistent testimony because she's ... what, simply personally unreliable? Is that really better?
No. But would a judge actually cite a male witnesses' personal stresses in quite the same manner?
I doubt it.