The Power of Perspectives

The Canadian Bar Association

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Protecting children’s rights starts with knowing what they are

By CBA/ABC National December 6, 2016 6 December 2016

Protecting children’s rights starts with knowing what they are

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Canada ratified along with 194 other countries, instructs that the child’s best interests must be a primary consideration in all actions concerning children. Though the Canadian Charter is explicit in that it should be read as being consistent with our international obligations, the CBA has expressed serious concerns about the knowledge lawyers and other legal professionals have about children’s rights, and how rarely the Convention is invoked particularly with respect to vulnerable, high risk and marginalized children in a number of areas.  Here are some figures.

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CBA Community

Latest news

By CBA/ABC National December 6, 2016 6 December 2016

Latest news

 

Meet CBA’s new CEO: Cheryl Farrow

On November 7th, Cheryl Farrow began her tenure as chief executive, making her the first female CEO in the association’s 120-year history. She replaces John Hoyles who is retiring after 20 years with the CBA.

An experienced professional association executive with more than 15 years of senior management experience in the not-for-profit sector, Farrow has worked with boards through periods of change and evolution. This experience will serve her well as she guides the association toward a new CBA, transitioning to a new governance model and exploring new ways to serve its members. To get to know her better, CBA National  asked Farrow about her thoughts on associations and her vision for the CBA.

CBA National: What do associations today need to do to stay relevant?

Cheryl Farrow: Associations first need to be able to properly define their membership, which may include a number of different segments with different needs. Based on that segmentation, we need to understand what members value and we need to understand members’ “pain points” and position the association as a valued partner in addressing those challenges. We need to embrace technology as a key enabler in providing relevant programs and services, while also recognizing that members are bombarded on all sides by electronic communications. Whenever we can turn our communications activities from “push” strategies into dialogue with members, that’s how we will gain the necessary intelligence to ensure our relevance.

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Profile

Creative licence

By CBA/ABC National December 6, 2016 6 December 2016

Creative licence

“Practising law can be creative, but sculpting allows for a different form of creativity and part of a balance in life that has been most satisfying. Besides, “hitting rock” is a good outlet for my aggression that might otherwise be directed against my partners, clients or family!”

Robert Cohen Q.C., Partner at Blaney McMurtry, has been sculpting stone for over 30 years and has participated in  a number of art shows.

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CBA influence

Protecting the non-default position on gender identity

By CBA/ABC National December 2, 2016 2 December 2016

If you’re cis-gendered, chances are that somebody in the past 10 years has had to explain that term to you – and chances are equally good that you asked why the term was necessary, because to embody the gender you’re born with is generally the default human condition. It’s all those other people who are living hyphenated lives.

That may be true, but it’s just as true that the cis-gendered mayn’t have the first clue of how difficult life can be when you’re not the default, and the law doesn’t protect your difference.

The Nunavut Branch of the CBA, along with the Association’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Community Forum, have written to the Nunavut government asking that it amend the territory’s Human Rights Act to include both gender identity and gender expression as prohibited grounds of discrimination.

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CBA influence

Oversight without access to information

By CBA/ABC National November 29, 2016 29 November 2016

Do you need a mechanism to rein in the watchers watching the watchers?

Bill C-22, currently making its way through Parliament, seems to put a few too many constraints on a proposed Parliamentary committee that would provide oversight of all national security activity, suggests a CBA submission.

In its 2015 submission on the previous government’s Bill C-51, the CBA recommended the creation of a Parliamentary committee “with access to secret information.” But it will not recommend passage of Bill C-22 without important amendments first being made.

Bill C-22 contains a number of mechanisms that would actually prevent the committee from carrying out its mandate – by limiting its access to the information it needs, for example, or calling its independence into question. Essentially, the submission suggests, these proscriptions imply a lack of trust in the MPs and Senators who would sit on the committee.

 “Without trust in the members to act responsibly in the national interest, there is little point in forming a Committee,” the submission says. “If there is trust in the members of the Committee, there is no need for unnecessary restrictions that undermine its work and role...”

The CBA’s greatest concern lies with section 16, which would allow Ministers and departments to refuse to provide information on vague national security grounds – an exemption that seems “unnecessary and illogical” because the MPs and Senators that a Minister might prevent from seeing any particular information “have the same lawful authority to see that information as the Minister him or herself.”

The Association’s concerns with this section are severe enough that it would oppose passage of the bill if it is not removed, the submission says.

“Put simply, section 16 would gut the proposed law and preclude the Parliamentary Committee from achieving its objective. It would create a broad and largely standardless ‘out clause’ for Ministers to exempt themselves from the Committee’s disclosure regime.”

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