The following is an open letter I sent earlier today to the Benchers of the Law Society of Upper Canada (the “LSUC”) with respect to its Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Initiative. The letter more or less speaks for itself. If you agree, I would encourage you to contact the Benchers to share your concerns.
I’ll provide a longer post when I have time, but I figured I’d give an update on the ongoing legal battles between Trinity Western University, an evangelical Christian university located in BC, and certain of Canada’s law societies, including those in BC, Ontario and Nova Scotia.
As I’ve written about ad nauseum before, here, here, and here ,the law societies of Nova Scotia, BC and Ontario have refused to accredit TWU over its covenant of community (i.e., Christian) values which refuses to recognize same-sex marriage. As I’ve noted previously, the arguments put forward by opponents of TWU have generally been high on rhetoric but light on legal analysis (i.e., wrong). Apparently, Justice Campbell of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court agrees, because he concluded, in a judgement released earlier today, that the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society’s refusal to accredit TWU was illegal on the bassis that the decision (i) was unfounded in any legal authority of the NSBS and (ii) violated the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It’s a long decision (though a pretty well-written one), but for casual readers the first 10-20 pages or so have a nice pithy summary of Justice Campbell’s reasons.
This was an obvious decision which anyone with even a passing familiarity with the NSBS’s statutory authority and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (and the jurisprudence around TWU thereunder) would have seen coming. Apparently this group excludes a majority of the benchers of the law societies of Ontario, BC and Nova Scotia, and a majority of the members of the BC bar who voted not to accredit TWU. This is a sad commentary on either the intellect or integrity of the legal profession in Canada.
So, a Missouri grand jury decided not to indict officer Darren Wilson for shooting Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, last summer. I confess that I hadn’t been closely following the circumstances of the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson Missouri over the summer. Sure, I read a few articles about the incident and subsequent protests in the August, but I hadn’t been paying close attention. But, with the release of the evidence presented to the grand jury, I thought it would be interesting to see what the basis of the grand jury’s decision was (as an aside, the evidence is fascinating, and from what I’ve read so far, provides a far more nuanced and subtle portrayal of the incident then has been broadly reported). There’s a lot of evidence, which I’m still sifting through, but what really strikes me, so far, is how different the evidence is from the impression one would have formed from intermittently following media accounts (as I had done). Consider two examples.
I was floored by this piece on slaw.ca this morning by Amnesty International Canada’s Alex Neve criticizing Canada’s alleged unwillingness to condemn Israeli human rights abuses during this summer’s Gaza war. You can make of it what you like, but what struck me was how it so perfectly demonstrates Amnesty International’s intellectual bankruptcy and moral obliviousness. It also demonstrates, no doubt unintentionally, the almost obsessive fixation that many human rights activists have with Israel.
Two stories caught my attention recently and got me thinking about the effectiveness of the Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC), the body in charge of regulating lawyers. As will be clear from other posts, I have a fairly low regard for the LSUC, but I think these two stories give a good illustration as to why.
So the Israelis and the Palestinians are at it again. Here it is, a nice sunny summer, and they’ve got nothing better to do than try (none too successfully, in the case of the Palestinians) to kill one another. Somethings never change. Another thing that never changes is the chorus of critics of Israel lamenting it “disproportionate” attacks on Palestinians. Anytime Israel goes to war with its neighbours, it’s accused of inflicting “disproportionate” casualties on their civilian populations or, and it amounts to the same thing, of a “disproportionate” response, most notably by the British Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg. Continue reading “A Question for Israel’s Critics – What Number of Dead Palestinians is Proportionate?”
I read this piece in the Globe by Semra Sevi this morning making the case for why Canadian citizens who reside outside of Canada for more than 5-years should be entitled to vote in Federal elections. This is response to the federal government’s appeal of a recent Ontario Superior Court decision in Frank et al. v. AG Canada striking down provisions of the Elections Act which precluded Canadian citizens living outside of Canada for more than 5-years from voting in federal elections. Both the policy and legal arguments for allowing such citizens to vote are misplaced and ignore the local nature of Canadian democracy. Continue reading “No, damnit, Non-Residents Canadians shouldn’t get to vote in Canadian Elections”
I’m not sure why I actually care about the Trinity Western University (“TWU“) law school (which I’ve written about ad nauseum, here, here and, most recently, here) or whether or not it gets accredited by the provincial law societies. I went to a proper law school (UofT) and frankly would rather spend my weekend at the local gay pride parade than at bible study with the TWU grads. Yet, here I am, defending TWU. In part, though, I think its the fact that, as a lawyer, I’m offended by the by shabby, misleading, and plain stupid legal arguments being made against TWU.
I guess being the Law Society of Upper Canada (the “LSUC“) means you aren’t compelled to comply with silly little rules… like the law. How else can one explain the appalling decision of the LSUC to refuse to accredit the proposed new law school at Trinity Western University (“TWU“)?
Before I start, I’m going to stake out my bias here. I hate the Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC), the organization responsible for regulating lawyers in Ontario. Not because I’ve had any problems with them, but because, in my experience, there are
few no public organizations as inept, incompetent and clueless as the LSUC. Everything they do, they do badly. They are the living embodiment of the old maxim that: “Those who can, do. Those who can’t do, regulate”. When I went through the bar admissions program, they handed around material that was outdated and wrong (badly, badly wrong). The bar admissions exam was a fiasco – the exam itself was filled with typos and spelling errors, and the organization was so poor it ran twice as long as it was scheduled to run and almost resulted in a riot. Every year I have to fill out to two separate annual reports at two different times, rather than filing a single report at the same time (ok, this is a petty complaint, but you know, even the tax man doesn’t make me file two tax returns). Even in their principal role of protecting the public from unscrupulous lawyers, it’s not clear that it is particularly competent (witness the recent Heydary fiasco, where the LSUC stepped in only after a lawyer allegedly disappeared with $3 million of his client’s money).
So, against that background, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to me that the LSUC would do something to completely fuck this year’s class of law school graduates. And yet… even as jaded I am, I was shocked by the announcement that the LSUC was DOUBLING licensing fees for students to become lawyers in the province of Ontario to almost $5000.