Equality at a Glance

As the voice for the legal profession, the Canadian Bar Association (CBA) is a national organization with chapters in every province and territory. In this regard, the CBA has developed its role on issues of equality as an integral part of its mission and mandate adapting its by-laws to ensure such, and developing its sections and committee structure to ensure focal points exist within the organization to address these issues in the short- and long-term.

To achieve these objectives, the CBA has taken the following actions:

  1. Commissioning in 1993 of Task Force on Gender Equality in the Legal Profession chaired by former Supreme Court Justice Bertha Wilson. While this Task Force's main focus was on gender equality, it also addressed issues concerning Aboriginal women and women from subordinate racialized groups;
  2. Adopting in 1994 of a Bylaw amendment to include the following statement in the CBA mission: "promote equity in the legal profession and in the justice system";
  3. Adopting in 1994 and 1995 of report and resolutions related to Touchstones for Change: Equality, Diversity and Accountability from aforementioned Task Force;
  4. Establishing the Standing Committee on Equity to facilitate implementation of the Touchstones report;
  5. Publishing the 1995 background paper entitled The Legal Duty to Accommodate Lawyers with Family Responsibilities;
  6. Developing several model policies as an appendix to Touchstones for Change;
  7. Developing Equity of Women in the Legal Profession as an educational resources for lawyers;
  8. Developing in 1995-96 educational materials for a national workshop promoting equality in the legal profession;
  9. Establishing in 1996 the Touchstones Award presented yearly to recognize/celebrate an individual who has made a significant contribution to equality in the legal profession;
  10. Establishing a newsletter entitled "Touchstones" as a way of informing members of the legal profession about emerging equality issues and to feature key articles on this matter;
  11. Commissioning in 1996 a Working Group on Racial Equality in the Canadian Legal Profession;
  12. Creating, in 1997, the National Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity Conference (SOGIC);
  13. Adopting in 2000 and 2001 the report and resolutions related to Racial Equality in the Canadian Legal Profession submitted by the aforementioned Working Group;
  14. Establishing in 2000 a Racial Equality Implementation Committee to facilitate implementation of the report's resolutions;
  15. Establishing an Equity Report by the Standing Committee on Equality (1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003). This report includes information on the implementation of equality initiatives by law societies, law schools, the judiciary, the department of justice and attorneys-general and other legal associations across Canada;
  16. Establishing the Aboriginal Law Section, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Committee, Citizenship and Immigration Law Section, the Constitutional and Human Rights Law Section;
  17. Establishing the Hero Award sponsored by the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Committee;
  18. Adopting numerous resolutions concerning Aboriginal peoples, including: Aboriginal Justice Strategy; Aboriginal Justice Initiative; Guidelines for Lawyers Acting for Survivors of Aboriginal Residential Schools; Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples; Extradition of Leonard Peltier; American Convention on Human Rights; Ratification of International Labour Organization Convention 169; Ipperwash Judicial Inquiry; Draft Declaration on the Rights of Aboriginal Peoples;
  19. Publishing materials on Aboriginal Self Government - What Does it Mean in Practice?; and Aboriginal Governance - 2001 and Beyond;
  20. Establishing a Legal Aid Tariff Committee and Pro Bono Committee which includes in its work issues concerning Aboriginal peoples and subordinate racialized groups;
  21. Adopting resolutions concerning access to legal aid, access to legal education and the need for affordable law school tuition fees which are a particular concern to Aboriginal peoples and subordinate racialized groups;
  22. Lobbying various levels of government concerning legal aid, immigration and refugee legislation and regulations;
  23. Convening Continuing Legal Education sessions on a broad range of equality issues, eg., Human Rights: 50 year on (1998), Building the momentum: Conference on Implementing the Recommendations of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (1999), Impact of Diversity in the Legal Profession (2000), Emerging Practices in Commercial, Taxation and Health Law: Personal Rights in Aboriginal Practice (2002); Children and the Law from the Aboriginal Perspective (2003); Racial Profiling (2004); Equality Rights - the Impact of International Law and Policy (2005);
  24. Presenting briefs and submissions to government concerning issues related to subordinate racialized groups, eg., the anti-terrorism legislation, the new immigration act and its regulations, the increase of law school tuition fees;
  25. Establishment of CBA staff equality and law reform lawyer positions to assess current CBA initiatives and to guide the design, development and delivery of future initiatives;
  26. Adopting a resolution on Employment Insurance Maternity and Parental Leave Benefits.