She argues that untapped provisions of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom can be used to address contemporary issues in women's rights, such as the under-representation of women in Parliament.
Kerri A. Froc is an adjunct research professor in the School of Canadian Studies, Carleton University and a PhD candidate at the Faculty of Law, Queen's University. She received her bachelor of arts from the University of Regina (1993, with distinction), her bachelor's of laws from Osgoode Hall Law School, York University (1996), and her master's of laws at the University of Ottawa (2009). She has been employed since 2005 at the Canadian Bar Association as a staff lawyer in the area of law reform and equality. She resides in Ottawa, Ontario.
Prior to joining the Canadian Bar Association, she worked as a staff lawyer for the Women's Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF), and as a lawyer in private practice in Regina, Saskatchewan at the Balfour Moss law firm (now part of the national law firm Miller Thomson). Her practice focussed on civil litigation, administrative law, human rights and constitutional law. She is a member of the bars of Ontario (2005) and Saskatchewan (1997).
A passionate advocate for women both in her legal practice and as an active volunteer for LEAF over a decade, Kerri Froc has acted as co-counsel in notable cases including Falkiner et al. v. Ontario (Ministry of Community and Social Services) (2002) 212 D.L.R. (4th) 633, 159 O.A.C. 135, 59 O.R. (3d) 481 (C.A.) (finding Ontario's punitive "spouse in the house" regulation discriminated against single mothers on social assistance), and Merk v. International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers, Local 771, 2005 SCC 70,  3 S.C.R. 425 (finding Saskatchewan's labour legislation protected a whistleblower who reported financial mismanagement within her workplace). She lectures and writes on constitutional issues concerning poor women, racialized women, women's work, and access to justice, among others. Ms. Froc's research interests include feminist legal theory, women's constitutional rights claims, and the theory of constitutional interpretation.
The Untapped Power of Section 28 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Kerri's research proposes a new tool to challenge traditional understandings of rights that have caused many women's Charter claims to founder: section 28 of the Charter, guaranteeing rights and freedoms "equally to male and female persons." Although section 28 has been profoundly marginalized by the courts, she hypothesizes that it could fundamentally reshape how Charter claims are adjudicated by requiring that rights be interpreted through a gender lens. With a view to reinstating section 28 as a fully functional, effective constitutional provision, her doctoral research will carry out the first comprehensive examination of its history, interpretation, and potential application. Using concrete examples, such as the chronic under-representation of women in Parliament, niqab-wearing women's access to government services, and legislated roadblocks to pay equity, her research will examine whether a robust interpretation of section 28 could be used to resolve such contemporary constitutional problems in a way that ensures the Charter delivers on its promise of ensuring a fair, equal and democratic society for Canadian women.
November 4, 2014
February 7, 2014