The Power of Perspectives

The Canadian Bar Association

Kim Covert


Dead as a doorknob

By Kim Covert November 21, 2013 21 November 2013

When it comes to government regulations supposedly enacted to save us from ourselves, there tend to be three main reactions: cries of “It’s the nanny state!” nearly drowned out by cries of “It’s about time!” A third, smaller group scratches their heads and mutters, “What the…?” before thinking it over and coming down quietly on one side or the other.

A recent amendment to the City of Vancouver’s building code likely precipitated a great hue and cry and a certain amount of head-scratching.

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Complicated fracking story lost in news noise from Toronto

By Kim Covert November 19, 2013 19 November 2013

With the wall-to-wall coverage of Toronto’s bellicose mayor these days, a lot of quieter stories are being swept under the rug – including a court decision in New Brunswick denying a requested fracking injunction.

Duty to consult doesn’t provide anywhere near the same level of semantic dazzle of Rob Ford’s bravura performance; and the spectacle has died down since anti-fracking protests erupted in violence near the village of Rexton, N.B., last month. If there’s no news-at-six-worthy video, it seems, there’s no story worth keeping in the headlines.

The New Brunswick Court of Queen’s Bench ruled on Monday against a request from Elsipogtog First Nation to suspend testing near the Signitog District of Mi'kmaki — an area that covers south of the Miramichi River and a portion of Nova Scotia near the New Brunswick border. The band wanted all oil and gas licences and permits issued to SWN Resources Canada suspended.

(Read more after the jump)

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Unfit but unfired: bring on the recall laws

By Kim Covert November 14, 2013 14 November 2013

A Google search of the term “unfit for office” will turn up more than 14 million results in less than 33 seconds.

A lot of the results are blogs and newspaper opinion pieces about this or that politician – Toronto’s Rob Ford is high up in the results, along with former New York state governor Eliot Spitzer and Australia’s embattled Labour leader Kevin Rudd, who has just resigned. Rudd, who had been ousted from the prime minister’s office in 2010 by his deputy, won a leadership challenge and returned to the position ahead of a September election, where he lost to a Liberal-National coalition about a week after being declared unfit for office in The Australian.

We seem to throw the term around somewhat cavalierly; there doesn’t seem to be much agreement on what exactly makes one “unfit” for office.

(Read more after the jump)

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Profit's place in the law firm

By Kim Covert November 13, 2013 13 November 2013

Is there any difference in profit motive between a publicly owned corporation and a partner-owned law firm?

That question came up as part of a wide-ranging discussion on legal business structures during a Twitterchat hosted Tuesday night by Monica Goyal – a partner at Aluvion Law and a member of the CBA Legal Futures Initiative’s business structures and innovation team.

In a publicly owned company the primary duty is owed to the shareholder – the business of the company is run in order to provide the greatest benefit to the shareholders, though in Canadian law other issues, such as corporate social responsibility and environmental impact can also be factored into the equation of any given business decision.

In law firms, lawyers may work as individuals with their own portfolios of clients, but even so partners reap a share of their earnings. The duty in a partnership would thus be owed to the partners.

A perennial criticism of the corporate model is that decisions with long-term repercussions can be made just to improve the look of the books for the next shareholders’ meeting.

Do you see the difference?


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Legislating secular values

By Kim Covert November 7, 2013 7 November 2013

If I were a Christian civil servant in Quebec and I wore scarves over my hair because I thought they were beautiful and liked the way they framed my face, would the secular charter prohibit my fashion statement?

What if I were an atheist who found a lovely Celtic cross in an antique store in Ireland that looked fabulous with a black turtleneck?

Is it a religious symbol if it doesn’t symbolize the religion of the person wearing it?

I think if I lived in Quebec and worked for the civil service, I’d be tempted to find out, just to poke at the monster a bit.

The Parti Quebecois tabled its charter in the National Assembly on Thursday after months of controversy. Originally called the Charter of Quebec Values, the name has ballooned to the unwieldy and untweetable "Charter affirming the values of state secularism and religious neutrality and of equality between women and men, and providing a framework for accommodation requests."

It’s as if the province is trying to cram all of its justification for the charter, which is as welcomed in some circles as it is reviled in others – both in and out of the province -- into the title.

(More after the jump)

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