The Power of Perspectives

The Canadian Bar Association

Kim Covert

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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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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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Aboriginal law

Section 35: Unpacking the Crown’s baggage

By Kim Covert May 10, 2016 10 May 2016

 

 

 

The Honour of the Crown was both the theme of and a bone of contention at the sold-out Aboriginal Law Section conference last week in Ottawa – a city which occupies unceded Algonquin territory.

It was a difference perhaps best illustrated by capitalization: the Honour of the Crown was examined as a concept by philosopher and author John Ralston Saul; its historical origins were traced by Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin; Crown lawyers and aboriginal law practitioners on panels last Thursday talked about how it shapes their work. But Louis Riel descendant Jean Telliet and Chief Shining Turtle of the Whitefish River First Nation in Ontario talked about the honour of the Crown – or more to the point, the lack thereof.

Telliet, the last speaker of the morning on a panel discussion titled Fighting with Honour – The Honour of the Crown in the Litigation Context, blew the roof off the packed ballroom following quiet presentations by three government representatives – Nunavut’s deputy Justice Minister; Ontario’s Assistant Deputy Attorney General; and a Crown attorney from B.C. who has spent his career working on aboriginal issues – who talked about cases they’ve seen and how they define the Honour of the Crown in relation to their own work.

Telliet started with Section 35 of the Constitution Act 1982, which she says “was supposed to be the settlement of old and difficult grievances … but it has become a tool” governments use “to go to court and spend hundreds of millions of dollars to prove something at you already know exists.”

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