CBA Advocacy Policy

Operational policy of the CBA approved by Board of Directors, November 2010. Revised August 2018.


  1. To maximize the value of the CBA’s professional and public interest advocacy as a member service
  2. To execute advocacy by the CBA and its constituent groups in a manner accountable to CBA members
  3. To use staff and volunteer resources effectively to achieve results in CBA advocacy

Scope – Definition of a Submission

Submissions are expressions of policy, analysis, recommendation, endorsement or position communicated by the CBA or any constituent group to other organizations or individuals, or to the public. This includes expressions represented as the position of the CBA or constituent group and endorsements of a position taken by another organization or individual.

The following kinds of expression constitute submissions:

  • formal written briefs or resolutions of the CBA, or any of its constituent bodies
  • correspondence on CBA letterhead
  • correspondence signed by an individual acting on behalf of the CBA or in which the writer describes himself or herself as an Association office holder and may by inference be taken to be speaking for the Association
  • oral submissions and public appearances on behalf of the CBA.

All CBA submissions are governed by this Policy. Interventions are governed by the CBA Intervention Regulation and are not submissions under the Advocacy Policy.

Setting Priorities

As a voluntary organization, the CBA must use limited volunteer and staff resources effectively. This means setting priorities for maximum effect.

Priority will be given to the following issues:

  • Issues of importance to the legal profession generally;
  • Issues of direct relevance to lawyers in their practice area; and
  • Issues addressing the core principles of the profession.Footnote1

For these priority issues, precedence will be given to matters within Canada. Submissions on matters outside Canada that are not supported by a CBA resolutionFootnote2 will be considered when Canadian citizens are treated contrary to our own notions of fairness or legality, or when the Rule of Law and core principles of the profession are threatened, and where the facts can be verified by a reliable source. Submissions on matters outside Canada with no direct impact on the legal profession or on Canadians must be supported by a CBA resolution.

Submissions on matters that give rise to significant controversy in the profession should be supported by a CBA resolution.

Preparing Submissions

Submissions on federal matters are the prerogative of the CBA and its national constituent bodies.Footnote3 Submissions are initiated in several ways:

  • CBA Staff Lawyer sends Bill or discussion paper to interested Sections, Committees or Subcommittees
  • Constituent group identifies issue to address proactively
  • External body requests input, to the constituent group or to National office
  • Request from the President, Board of Directors or Policy Committee.

As a first step, the Staff Lawyer and the Chair(s) of the constituent group(s) must determine whether to pursue a submission, taking into account:

  • whether the matter is a priority issue, as listed above
  • the relative importance of the issue to the constituent group(s)
  • whether CBA is best placed to inform the public debate
  • the likelihood of influencing the debate
  • whether a written submission is the most effective means to influence the debate
  • the time frame in which to prepare the submission
  • the available resources  and capacity to produce a response.

If the decision is to do a submission, constituent group(s) and Staff Lawyer agree on:

  • constituent group(s) liaison person for the submission
  • who will prepare what 
  • time lines, taking into account writing, editing, constituent group approval, translation, Law Reform Subcommittee review, and approval by the Policy Committee or Board of Directors.

If the constituent group fails to inform the Staff Lawyer early in the submission development process or fails to respect the agreed time lines, the Policy Committee may decide that work on the submission will not continue, or recommend that the submission not be approved.

Constituent Group Deliverables

  • expertise on substantive issues, including preparation of written submissions
  • tracking issues through federal departments and agencies
  • input on priority issues for response
  • respect for agreed deadlines in preparing and ratifying written submissions
  • input and agreement on strategic lobbying plan
  • establishing mechanisms to deal with law reform issues within the group

CBA National Office Deliverables

  • tracking issues through Parliament and federal departments and agencies
  • developing strategic lobbying plan, including media strategy
  • assistance in developing effective messages
  • assistance in identifying key decision-makers
  • finalizing style, format and translation
  • guiding submissions through the approval process
  • monitoring progress of bill, liaising with Parliamentary Committee, departmental staff, etc. If appearance is indicated, Staff Lawyers make the arrangements.
  • administration of meetings with key decision-makers
  • assistance in preparing volunteers for meetings and appearances

Approval of Submissions

CBA effectiveness in law reform is based equally on its reputation for objectivity and independence, its professional expertise, and its national voice. Participation in CBA constituent groups (especially in Sections) gives members an opportunity to influence legislation and public policy, and to ensure that CBA submissions reflect a balanced position on the range of expertise and views within the CBA.

Speaking on behalf of the CBA or a constituent group carries a responsibility to other CBA members. The approval process ensures that statements are consistent with CBA policies, and that the CBA speaks with one voice. This ensures CBA credibility and ability to influence change, as well as accountability to CBA members.

The approval process is governed by CBA Bylaw No 1, articles 57 and 58. Only approved submissions reflect CBA policies. No unapproved submission may bear the name of the CBA or its logo.

All participants are subject to CBA Bylaw No 1, article 60 (Conflict of Interest).  

The Staff Lawyer coordinates the three stages of review and approvals:

  1. approval by the constituent group (or its executive)
  2. review by the Law Reform Subcommittee
  3. approval by the Policy Committee or Board of Directors.

Factors for consideration in reviewing and approving submissions

  • does the submission accurately reflect the law
  • is it consistent with or compatible with existing CBA policies
  • does it reflect the CBA’s commitment to the rule of law, the Charter of Rights and fundamental human rights
  • does it represent the range of interest in the topic amongst CBA membership (even when considering a statement on behalf of a Section, views of other constituent groups with an interest in the subject matter should be sought or a joint submission considered)
  • have all aspects of an issue been canvassed thoroughly and considered in a balanced manner, and does the resulting conclusion either represent a consensus or acknowledge differing opinions
  • have both official language versions of legislation been considered
  • is the submission expressed in language and in a form that will be understood by its intended audience, in particular:
    • it describes background and purpose
    • it can be understood without reference to other documentation
    • all conclusions are supported by clearly expressed reasons
    • all conclusions and reasons are well supported by fact, law and policy
    • tone is dispassionate and objective, avoiding a defensive or antagonistic approach
    • recommendations reflect constructive ways to improve, not just criticism
    • quality of appearance and style consistent with CBA standards
  • does the format reasonably follow the spirit and intent of the drafting guidelines, with no grammatical or typographical errors

Who has final approval of submissions

The Policy Committee may approve CBA submissions based on existing CBA policies.

Where a CBA submission is outside the parameters of existing CBA policies, the Policy Committee will refer the submission to the Board with a recommendation on whether the Board should approve the submission as CBA policy or should direct the issue to be the subject of a resolution at a General Meeting of the Association.

The Policy Committee may approve Section submissions based on existing CBA policies.

Where a Section submission is outside the parameters of existing CBA policies, the Policy Committee may approve the submission, or may refer the submission to the Board with a recommendation on whether the Board should approve the submission as CBA policy or should direct the issue to be the subject of a resolution at a General Meeting of the Association.

Drafting Guidelines

This is a guide to the form and content of submissions prepared by the CBA or its constituent groups for distribution to external bodies such as government departments and parliamentary committees. Sample submissions are available on

  1. Table of Contents
    List the topic headings in the submission, with page numbers.
  2. Preface
    This is prepared by Staff Lawyers at National Office. It describes the Association and the constituent group, and indicates that the submission has been approved as a statement of CBA or its constituent group.
  3. Executive Summary
    Longer submissions should include an executive summary conveying an overview of key points and the essence of the recommendations.
  4. Introduction
    Set out the scope of the submission, including the terms of reference. Set out the general approach and philosophy used in the analysis. Summarize the current law on the subject and, if appropriate, how the current or proposed law is inadequate. Briefly identify the major issues considered in the submission.
  5. Analysis and Recommendations
    Analyze the subject matter, issue by issue. Each issue should be in a separate section and the sections should be ordered in a logical progression. Recommendations should be set apart from the discussion, either at the beginning or end of each section.
  6. Citations
    • Citations should follow the most recent edition of Canadian Guide to Uniform Legal Citation.
    • Case citations should be to one reporting service, preferably to a publicly available source such as CanLII, in footnotes to the text.
    • Citations to unpublished material should indicate the source of the material and where it can be obtained.
    • References to statutory sections should include the full citation and, where possible, the full text of the provision, either in the text or in a footnote.
  7. Summary of Recommendations
    List the recommendations in a separate section at the end of the submission.
  8. Letters
    Shorter submissions may take the form of a letter. Letters should follow the drafting guidelines to the extent appropriate for a shorter document.

Federal Lobbying Act Obligations

The Lobbying Act applies only to activities undertaken for payment, so CBA volunteers are not required to be registered under the Lobbying Act, or to report meetings with designated public office holders. The CBA President, who receives an honorarium, and National Office staff who interact with government on a regular basis are registered as lobbyists under the Act.

If someone with whom you are speaking in your CBA capacity indicates they are a “designated public office holder” and asks if you are registered, you can advise them that you are not required to register as you are a volunteer.

Designated public office holders include Ministers, Ministers of State, a person employed in their office or that of the Leader of the Opposition (“political staff”), MPs, Senators, a person in the Senior Executive position (Deputy Minister, Chief Executive Officer), Associate Deputy Ministers, Assistant Deputy Ministers and those of comparable rank. Eleven additional positions have been designated, most involving the military.


CBA Bylaw No. 1
Part VII: Sections (especially s. 40, Referrals)
Part X: Resolutions
Part XI: Public Statements

CBA General Regulations
s. 15(4): Policy Committee
s. 18(4): Law Reform Subcommittee

CBA Sections Regulation
Part A, s. 2: Purpose