The Power of Perspectives

The Canadian Bar Association

Kim Covert

Blog

Legal futures discourse in Ireland sounds like home

By Kim Covert October 31, 2013 31 October 2013

During the economic downturn of 2008 – and the ensuing economic inertia that followed – a lot was written about the PIGS (and sometimes PIIGS) in Europe: Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain, countries whose economies were floundering and required concerted international action.

The inclusion of Ireland in that group was a bit of a shock to those who had been drinking in the tales of the Celtic Tiger since 1995 – a period of explosive economic growth in the country. That tiger changed its stripes when the recession hit.

Enter the Troika: the European Commission, the IMF and the European Central Bank offered a bailout of €67 billion in 2010, but with strings attached – including a requirement to significantly overhaul the country’s legal profession.

(Read more after the jump)

Read More
Blog

Condo buyers - behave or beware!

By Kim Covert October 29, 2013 29 October 2013

Caveat emptor isn’t just for shoes and snake oil any more – home buyers who don’t follow the rules set by other owners in the same association can find themselves subject to penalties up to and including eviction.

That’s what happened in 2010, when an Ontario judge ordered a disruptive resident in a Toronto condo development to sell up and go. It’s happening again in British Columbia, where condo owner Rose Jordison in Surry, whose neighbours complained about her son’s behaviour, is appealing an ordering requiring her to sell.

Agreements between owners and developers or housing associations in condos or subdivisions regarding the appropriate use of property can often contain clauses that would leave a rural single-family dwelling owner bemused: no doormats or wreaths on doors, for example; requiring a certain type of glass in windows or specific colours of paint on doors and shutters. Four years ago in Ontario, the premier vetoed the growing practice of banning clotheslines.

(Read more after the jump)

Read More
Blog

Essentially speaking, budget bill creates controversy

By Kim Covert October 24, 2013 24 October 2013

The federal government tabled a budget implementation bill on Tuesday that among other things would give the government the exclusive power to designate essential services in the public service.

The budget bill follows on previously announced initiatives to change performance evaluations and reform sick days and disability benefits. And it immediately generated controversy.

The Public Service Alliance of Canada, in a statement on Tuesday, called the budget measures “another attack on the rights of federal public sector workers.”

 “The collective bargaining rights and the protections of workers who face discrimination, who do dangerous work, or who are treated unfairly will be undermined by the proposals in this bill,” said national president Robyn Benson

Meanwhile, Steven Barrett, a labour lawyer with Sack Goldblatt Mitchell in Toronto, told the Globe and Mail that with its proposals the government “is virtually eviscerating collective bargaining for public servants.”

(Read more after the jump)

Read More
Blog

Nobody's mandate, everybody's problem

By Kim Covert October 22, 2013 22 October 2013

An access to information law is like a finely honed sword: effective in the hands of a master swordsman (or woman), but as useless as a butter knife against certain types of armour.

Some in the media and on the opposition benches in government are deft in the art of ATIP requests – we know as much as we do, for instance, about the robocalls affair because of the hard work and canny requests of two Ottawa journalists.

But federal Information Commissioner Suzanne Legault has warned “the integrity of the system is at risk” due to under-staffing and poor leadership. And that’s just at the federal level. The provinces have their problems too.

(More after the jump)

Read More
Blog

How sturdy is your firm’s ethical infrastructure?

By Kim Covert October 17, 2013 17 October 2013

During a lunch-hour session at the CBA Legal Conference in Saskatoon this past August, Tim McGee, CEO of the Law Society of British Columbia made a point that may have been self-evident to some the lawyers in the room but which reframed a picture for others.

As part of three-person panel discussing the impact of the three pillars of the legal profession– regulation, education and association – McGee said a key question for regulators is what their role should be in ensuring  competence. “The conundrum that regulators have is that we are, to all intents and purposes, recognizing entry-level competence.”

It’s probably no surprise then that competence is one of 10 key areas highlighted in the Ethical Practices Self-Evaluation Tool developed by the CBA’s Ethics and Professional Responsibility Committee.

(More after the jump)

Read More