The Power of Perspectives

The Canadian Bar Association

Kim Covert

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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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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Gender identity

Bill C-16: Once more unto the breach

By Kim Covert May 18, 2016 18 May 2016


Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould introduced Bill C-16 on Tuesday, a piece of proposed legislation that will, if passed, amend the Canadian Human Rights Act to add gender identity and gender expression to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination and amend the Criminal Code to “extend the protection against hate propaganda set out in that Act to any section of the public that is distinguished by gender identity or expression and to clearly set out that evidence that an offence was motivated by bias, prejudice or hate based on gender identity or expression constitutes an aggravating circumstance that a court must take into consideration when it imposes a sentence.”

It’s not the first time that this kind of legislation has been tabled in Parliament – in fact, it’s the seventh, over the course of a decade – but it’s the first time that a sitting government has done so, which increases the likelihood that something will actually be accomplished this go-round.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made his government’s intentions clear in the Justice Minister’s mandate letter last fall, setting as one of her priorities to “introduce government legislation to add gender identity as a prohibited ground for discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Act, and to the list of distinguishing characteristics of ‘identifiable group’ protected by the hate speech provisions of the Criminal Code.

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