Spotlight on CBA intervention policy

  • December 06, 2016

A year after the CBA Board voted in favour of a new intervention policy – which was officially adopted at the CBA Council meeting in February – everyone seems to be settling in to the new consultation and review process.

A total of six proposed interventions have been subject to the more rigorous consultation process now required by the new policy – including Lizotte v. Aviva Insurance Company of Canada and Information and Privacy Commissioner of Alberta v University of Calgary, two appeals on which the Supreme Court rendered judgment on in late November (see item elsewhere in this newsletter). “But even before the new policy was approved, we started to consult more widely within the CBA,” says Ken Mandzuik, Chair of the Legislation and Law Reform Committee. “The feedback from the intervention policy review was clear: members wanted more input.”

The new policy requires that all branches, sections, forums and committees with a policy mandate be consulted on every proposed intervention. An intervention must be aligned with CBA policy or have broad-based support to be approved. While the extensive consultations can slow the process down, it ensures that all key CBA groups have a say in the decision.

At first some of those consulted weren’t quite sure how to handle the request, but with practice has come process. The Legislation and Law Reform Committee takes lessons from each consultation to streamline and make future requests as easy as possible. Groups can now select from a range of standard responses. In some sections, a smaller group will do the initial review of an intervention request and tell the rest of the group whether they think it’s something they need to comment on. By now, most branch section chairs know that they must feed in to the national section’s response.

Mandzuik points out: “It’s important to remember that even if the case in question falls outside a particular group’s area of expertise, the principles in question may be universal, and it’s those principles they’re being asked to comment on.

Groups are given a deadline to submit their comments, and comments received by that date are considered by the Legislation and Law Reform Committee, which submits its recommendation to the Board for a vote.

Members proposing interventions, particularly if it’s an individual, have found that consulting with interested CBA parties in the first instance helps to flesh out their proposal and make it stronger, more likely to pass muster. So far, the Lizotte and Information and Privacy Commissioner of Alberta appeals are the only ones to be approved under the new policy. Three proposals were turned down by the Board. One was turned down for an intervention at the Court of Appeal, but the door was left open to reconsider it if the appeal goes to the Supreme Court.