The CBA Calls on Federal Election Candidates: It's Time to Embrace an Agenda for Equal Justice

  • August 14, 2015

CALGARY – Today, the Canadian Bar Association (CBA) launched its Election Engagement Strategy calling on federal candidates to embrace an agenda for equal justice.  The two-track campaign will focus on key equal justice issues that it believes should be on Canadians’ minds as they head to the polls in the fall.

“As members of the legal profession, we know about unequal access to justice in Canada; many see it almost every day in their practice,” said CBA President Michele Hollins, Q.C. “As Canadians consider their choices this fall, the CBA wants to put these issues on candidates’ radar and publicly calls for enhanced federal leadership in this area.”

The campaign, launched at the CBA 2015 Legal Conference in Calgary, Alberta, will focus on three key areas:

  1. The lack of and inconsistent support for civil legal problems, including critical matters like family law issues, housing and employment rights, or problems with government benefits.
  2. The impact of recent changes to criminal law, and especially how they have affected Aboriginal people.
  3. The real economies to the public purse when adequate legal aid is provided.

“People often think that legal problems only happen to someone else,” Ms. Hollins noted.  “But, over a three year period, nearly half of Canadians will have a legal problem, and many of them will not be able to afford legal help.”

“Every person should have fair benefit of the law when a fundamental legal interest is threatened.”

An Election Engagement Kit has been developed for CBA members and is available online. It contains questions, facts and key messages as well as an Election 101 primer on how members can engage and voice their concerns.

The CBA is also kicking off a Twitter conversation to put the spotlight on the consequences of lack of access to justice. By using the hashtag #whataboutalex, the CBA will help give an authentic and relevant voice to thousands of Canadians who are left out of the justice system and bring the Twittersphere in closer touch with their reality.

The Election Engagement Strategy is another part of the CBA’s ongoing work following the release of the landmark report on Equal Justice in 2013. The report contains 31 targets aimed at engaging the legal community to come together to achieve change, and asking individuals to take on equal justice as a personal challenge.

To date, the CBA has twelve legal health checks for the public, and earlier this month a toolkit for lawyers on preventive law, as a way to help people identify and deal with legal issues before they become full-fledged problems.

The CBA is dedicated to support for the rule of law, and improvement in the law and the administration of justice. Some 36,000 lawyers, notaries in Quebec, law teachers, and law students from across Canada are members.

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