The Power of Perspectives

The Canadian Bar Association

Kim Covert

CBA influence

Legal aid is an integral part of the social safety net

By Kim Covert January 30, 2017 30 January 2017

 

It’s time for the federal government to take a leadership role in access to justice, the CBA’s Access to Justice Committee says in a submission to the House of Commons Committee on Justice and Human Rights which is studying legal aid.

“Canada needs federal leadership in creating a properly funded, national legal assistance systems strategy, with services administered by each province and territory, and minimum national standards and comparable services available throughout Canada,” the submission says.

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Business law

Friends, family and angels: Lend me your cash

By Kim Covert January 18, 2017 18 January 2017

Friends, family and angels: Lend me your cash

 

Long before many startup companies do their dances with venture capitalist dragons, they have to have smaller, important conversations with angels – friends, family members and the kind of people who make a business of handing out micro-loans (all things being relative) based on faith.

“An angel investor or an angel round or a seed round tends to be early in a company’s life-cycle, tends to be a pre-revenue stage, sometimes even pre-proof-of-concept,” says Michael Reid of McMillan LLP in Vancouver. He’ll be one of two presenters, along with Robert Cowan of McInnes Cooper in Halifax, for next February’s Skilled Lawyer Series webinar Business Finance for Lawyers I: Raising Seed Capital for a Startup.

“An angel investor is usually someone who’s making an investment on a lot of faith. It’s as much about investing in the individual and the idea as it is about investing in the actual business.”

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CBA Influence

Clearing the record: Suggestions for the pardons process

By Kim Covert January 11, 2017 11 January 2017

At what point does the justice system become unjust to the estimated one in 10 Canadians with a criminal record?

Depending on whom you talk to, a person could likely find injustices throughout – prolonged detention, delays in proceedings, inadequate legal aid funding and prison overcrowding are just some of the ways the justice system works against the people caught up in it.

A person who has served his or her time and been released back into the community can find it difficult to get out from under the stigma of that conviction – in fact, even people who’ve had charges against them stayed can still be negatively affected by their brush with the system.

In August, CBA Council passed a resolution urging the federal government to make changes to the current pardons process.

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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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