The Power of Perspectives

The Canadian Bar Association

Kim Covert

CBA influence

Duty to consult: Reviewing the environmental assessment process

By Kim Covert January 10, 2017 10 January 2017

The federal government’s attempts to balance the interests of business, the environment and Indigenous peoples in the environmental assessment process have met with varied success, depending on your area of particular interest.

The government has established an expert panel to review the environmental assessment process. A working group made up of members of the Environmental, Energy and Resources Law Section and the Aboriginal Law Section prepared a submission that was presented to the panel in Vancouver in December. Tony Crossman, who appeared before the panel for the CBA, also followed up by letter with a response to three particular questions he was asked by the panel.

The CBA submission made a total of 33 recommendations for modernizing the process, underlining the importance of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012, as well as sufficient funding and resources.

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CBA influence

Political activities for charities: Reframe the question

By Kim Covert January 9, 2017 9 January 2017

The personal is political – and so is the charitable it seems. Federal regulations limiting activities of a political nature have left charities tying themselves into knots and spending valuable resources trying to decide whether any given activity or statement is political – or more importantly perhaps, could be perceived to be so.

The problem is worsened by the fact that many things a charity does can be seen through the lens of political activity. Charities have a unique role to play in public policy debates, as acknowledged in the government’s public policy guidance on political activities, which states in part:

Through their dedicated delivery of essential programs, many charities have acquired a wealth of knowledge about how government policies affect peoples’ lives. Charities are well-placed to study, assess, and comment on those government policies. Canadians benefit from the efforts of charities and the practical, innovative ways they use to resolve complex issues related to delivering social services. Beyond service delivery, their expertise is also a vital source of information for governments to help guide policy decisions. It is therefore essential that charities continue to offer their direct knowledge of social issues to public policy debates.

But with limits placed on political activities, many in the voluntary sector feel it’s not worth the risk to undertake them.

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Practice hub

Your career: Seeking client feedback

By Kim Covert December 6, 2016 6 December 2016

Your career: Seeking client feedback

 

What does your client think about the service you provide? Have you asked?

Clients like being asked for feedback, says Mark Howe, Director of Client Relations for Thompson Dorfman Sweatman.

In fact, Howe said during a PD session at the CBA Legal Conference in Ottawa in August, it’s usually the lawyers in the firm who need to be convinced that asking clients what they think is not a bad idea.

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The Supreme Court

Pomp and circumstance: A supreme swearing-in

By Kim Covert December 5, 2016 5 December 2016

 

What do cupcakes and show tunes have to do with the selection of Canada’s newest Supreme Court justice?

Cupcakes were the fuel and show tunes – led by committee chair Kim Campbell – were the glue that held the special advisory committee appointed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau together, say sources who shall remain nameless. Committee members “gelled” quickly and did a tremendous amount of work, the sources say, and they’re very pleased with the result.

The result, of course, is the appointment of Malcolm Rowe as the first Supreme Court Justice from Newfoundland. Rowe was quietly sworn in and put to work three days after he was named to the court in October (“We don’t wait around,” Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin says). The pomp and circumstance, complete with that lovely ermine collar, waited until Dec. 2.

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Immigration

Modernizing immigration should emphasize economic needs and families

By Kim Covert September 15, 2016 15 September 2016

The CBA's Immigration Law Section looked to the past to answer questions about the future of Canada’s immigration policy, with its responses to an online consultation carried out by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada this summer.

The consultation looked at four topics: strengthening the Canadian fabric, what needs immigration policy is responding to, modernizing the system and leadership in global immigration and migration.

“Immigration must continue to play a key role in nation-building, in addressing Canada’s demographic gaps, and in driving innovation and economic growth,” the Section said. “For Canada to benefit from the full potential of its immigration programs, however, it is crucial that:

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