Advocacy

  • November 30, 2015

We’re sending lots and lots of letters

With a new government comes a new legislative agenda, and as usual the CBA is willing to play a role in crafting it.

President Janet Fuhrer has written to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (.pdf) and incoming Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould (.pdf), and will reach out to ministers of other portfolios that touch on policy areas that our members are interested in to welcome them all to their new jobs and to say the CBA is looking forward to working with them.

The president writes that the CBA’s primary objectives include improvement in the law and the administration of justice, and notes that these and other principles “will underpin and support your government’s important and ambitious justice agenda, including early priorities and key issues throughout the mandate. We can offer the unique perspective of a network of lawyers with expertise on how the law touches the lives of Canadians every day.”

Interventions

The CBA has a number of interventions at various stages of readiness.

  • Attorney General of Canada v. Chambre des notaires du QuĂ©bec, was heard Nov. 5. Mahmud Jamal, David Rankin and Alexandre Fallon of Osler are representing the CBA (.pdf). The appeal is from a Quebec CA decision that s. 232(1) of the Income Tax Act contravenes s. 8 of the Charter in that it fails to adequately safeguard the professional secrecy of legal advisers (akin to solicitor-client privilege in Quebec). Aside from the Charter argument, the issues are parallel to those in MNR v. Thompson (.pdf). Watch the proceedings on the Supreme Court’s website.
  • In October, the CBA filed for leave to intervene in R. v Lloyd, and is awaiting the court’s decision. The case deals with mandatory minimum sentences. Eric Gottardi, a senior partner at Peck and Company in Vancouver, is handling the intervention on the CBA’s behalf.
  • The CBA Board of Directors has chosen not to intervene in Groia v. Law Society of Upper Canada. With a number of differing views on an appropriate position for the CBA, it was unable to come to a consensus. The board did say that depending on the outcome of the case before the Ontario Court of Appeal, the CBA could consider appealing before the Supreme Court.
  • The CBA Board of Directors has decided to seek leave to intervene in Trinity Western University v Law Society of Upper Canada, as contemplated when the CBA intervened in Nova Scotia Barristers' Society v. Trinity Western University.

End-of-Life working group

The Supreme Court of Canada gave the federal government until February to rewrite the Criminal Code on physician-assisted suicide to align with its decision in Carter. Last summer, the former Conservative government set up a consultation panel called the External Panel on Options for a Legislative Response to Carter v Canada, which went on hiatus for the period of the election campaign and has now resumed hearings. Another group, the Provincial/Territorial Expert Advisory Group on Physician-Assisted Dying, is also holding consultations. The CBA has written to each group to say it strongly endorses a pan-Canadian approach, in line with the resolution (.pdf) passed at the August Council meeting in Calgary – a rewriting of the Criminal Code to comply with Carter, and harmonized provincial and territorial laws to give clear pathways for timely access to physician-assisted dying with procedural safeguards and oversight.