CBA support for the administration of justice.
by James M. Bond
As one of our past Presidents and a very sage fellow has said to me on many occasions, “you don’t pick fights with people who buy ink by the barrel.” Fair enough. However, I think that recent commentary concerning the Canadian Bar Association, and in particular, the underlying attack on the role of the CBA in Canadian society generally cannot be ignored. I am referring, of course, to the criticism in certain quarters of our organization’s insistence that Omar Khadr be returned from Guantanamo Bay to be dealt with by the Canadian justice system, and our organization’s decision to urge the Canadian government to seek clemency for all Canadian citizens who face the death penalty abroad.
The Canadian Bar Association is legislatively mandated to promote the administration of justice. It is a role that has been set out for us by government in the legislation which incorporated our organization in 1921. Fostering and supporting the rule of law is fundamental to promoting the administration of justice.
In addition, as lawyers we all recognize the fundamental importance of protecting the rule of law and administration of justice. They form the bedrock upon which our democratic society is based. As officers of the court, the role that we play as protectors of that bedrock, from attempts to chip away at it, is so ingrained in us it almost becomes second nature – as it should be.
Given how important the protection of the rule of law and the administration of justice is to a free and democratic society such as ours, it is surprising that some political commentators suggest our work to ensure that protection is a political play. Surely, citizens of Canada regardless of political stripe would agree that the preservation and protection of the foundation of our democratic and social institutions are of fundamental importance. In addition, it does not take much effort (a quick trip to the CBA website to review past resolutions of our organization will suffice) to see that the CBA has consistently called governments to task for actions or inactions which adversely affected the rights and freedoms of Canadians, regardless of the political stripe of the governments.
In short, our efforts to protect the administration of justice is a social responsibility – not just of our organization, but of all lawyers. Our work in this area will not always be popular in all political quarters – and the level of popularity in each quarter may vary depending on the political stripe of the government of the day. However, the Canadian Bar Association will continue to speak out when the administration of justice is at issue, not because it’s the popular thing to do, but because it’s the right thing to do.
I should also say that while protection of the administration of justice is something that the Canadian Bar Association is committed to, it is not the only kind of work we do. Our input is actively sought on legislative initiatives at both the federal and provincial levels. We work hard to ensure that the practice and professional lives of our members are supported and strengthened. We also provide a significant amount of professional development to our members and lawyers generally.
If you would like to know more about some of our recent activities in areas other than our work on the administration of justice, or if you would like to know more about the Canadian Bar Association’s reasons for continuing to press the Canadian government on Omar Khadr and on clemency for all Canadians facing the death penalty abroad, I invite you to check out my blog at www.cbabcprezblog.blogspot.com. You can also follow me on twitter at www.twitter.com/cbabcprez.
I wish you every success in your professional and personal lives.
This article was published in the October 2009 issue of BarTalk. © 2009 The Canadian Bar Association. All rights reserved.