Spotlight on the 2022 AGM

  • February 08, 2022

Addresses and Q&A sessions with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada Richard Wagner, as well as Canada’s Justice Minister David Lametti, were highlights of the 104th annual meeting of the Canadian Bar Association, held February 7.

The Chief Justice discussed how Canada’s courts have adapted to the pandemic, and commended the CBA for its comprehensive report on justice issues arising from the pandemic. Justice is an essential service, he said, adding that he shares the CBA’s concern with making court proceedings easier and more accessible for everyone.

Minister Lametti echoed similar themes in his address. He then answered questions from CBA members on the status of the parliamentary committee looking into medical assistance in dying, diversity on the bench as well as concerns for the rule of law arising from the protests that have paralyzed Ottawa’s downtown since late January.

In his remarks, CBA President Stephen Rotstein discussed the importance of strengthening our community of lawyers by making sure they have the mental health and wellness resources they need to be the best they can be. Which, in turns, allows them to volunteer and give back to their communities – within the CBA or in other areas of life.

Several hundred members joined the meeting from all across the country, debated and voted on resolutions.

Three resolutions came up for a vote after debate and interventions from members. One calls on the CBA to consider innovative approaches to the access to justice crisis to help Canadians gain meaningful access to civil legal services. Another one gives the federal, provincial and territorial governments two years to come up with a decarceration plan for Indigenous communities which would include shifting funding from the Correctional Service of Canada and from provincial and territorial correctional services to Indigenous communities. As well, CBA members voted in favour of key recommendations in the 2021 Task Force Report on Justice Issues Arising from COVID-19 being implemented without delay.

John Stefaniuk, Chair of the Finance Committee, reported on the state of CBA Finances. Members voted to appoint KPMG as the auditor for the fiscal year ending August 31, 2022.

And speaking of the Board member from Manitoba, John Stefaniuk, he was elected incoming CBA Vice President, beginning his term on September 1, 2022.

Stephen Rotstein introduced the CBA’s new CEO, Johanne C. Bray, Q.C., who assumed her new role, coincidentally, on the day of the AGM. Johanne is a fluently bilingual lawyer with an extensive background that includes senior executive experience in government and the not-for-profit sector.

Several awards were announced during the AGM. You can read about the individuals honoured and their achievements.