The Power of Perspectives

The Canadian Bar Association

Yves Faguy


The legal services that the public needs

By Yves Faguy August 18, 2013 18 August 2013

Malcolm Mercer, the winner of this year’s Louis St-Laurent Award, talks about some of the ethical issues confronting the legal profession as it goes through a period of renewal and change.

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Law should be taught as a life skill

By Yves Faguy August 18, 2013 18 August 2013

In its Reaching Equal Justice report, the CBA sets a target to get legal capability training to 5 million Canadians by 2030:

Law should be seen as a life skill, with opportunities for all to develop and improve legal capabilities at various stages in their lives, ideally well before a legal problem arises.  Law is a fact of life in the 21st century. Almost everyone will experience a legal problem at some point in their lives, but until that happens, most people don’t know what to expect from the justice system, the benefits of different paths and legal services  and so on. Those involved in the justice system and in legal service delivery have a shared responsibility to increase the legal capabilities of everyone in Canada.

Building legal capability involves knowledge, skills and attitudes. Teaching law as a life skill also helps to cultivate  trust and confidence in the justice system. All justice system participants can find ways to help build capability in their daily contact with members of the public.

In the above video, the Chief Justice talked about the role public education can play in improving access to justice.

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Interrogations and false confessions

By Yves Faguy August 18, 2013 18 August 2013

CBC reporter Joe Schlesinger and producer Bonnie Brown took home the Stephen Hanson Awards for Excellence in Journalism in the broadcast category.  In “Truth, Lies and Confessions”, the team used the lens of two real-life situations to expose how interrogation methods – namely the Reid technique -- used by most Canadian police forces can produce false confessions from innocent people.  We interviewed Schlesinger after his acceptance.

The print award went to Paul Webster for his Vancouver Magazine article, The War on The War on Drugs.  In it he profiles Constable David Bratzer, a Victoria, BC-based police officer campaigning against Canadian drug prohibition laws in his free time while upholding them when he is on duty.

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Why should we care about access to justice?

By Yves Faguy August 17, 2013 17 August 2013

The Chief Justice addressed CBA Council today and discussed the work of the Supreme Court in 2012.  Some notable figures:

  • 548 applications for leave to appeal.
  • The Court granted leave in 12% of cases.
  • 15 notices of appeal as of right were also filed with the Court.
  • The Court heard 78 appeals and rendered judgment in 83 cases.
  • In 72% of cases, the Court was unanimous.

Looking forward, the Court has 23 appeals already scheduled.  Noteworthy among them is Minister of Citizenship and Immigration et al v Harkat et al, in which the SCC will look into the constitutionality of the security certificate regime under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

The Chief Justice also mentioned the Senate Reference regarding the constitutional requirements for the reform or abolition of the Senate. And in Roger William v. British Columbia, an appeal of particular significance to the resource sector, the Court is set to revisit the test for Aboriginal title.

She also discussed ongoing efforts to tackle the access to justice deficit in Canada – in her words “the most pressing challenge facing the administration of justice.” In the above video, the Chief Justice was asked why Canadians should care about committing taxpayers' dollars to improving access to justice.

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Resolutions to be debated at CBA Council

By Yves Faguy August 16, 2013 16 August 2013

The CBA’s council meeting gets under way tomorrow and will be debating 15 resolutions, including those calling:

  • On Ottawa to favour a harm reduction approach over criminal prohibition to fund an integrated national strategy directed at mental illness, homelessness and other underlying causes of drug addiction. This would include the establishment of supervised injection sites and treatment programs, and care facilities.
  • For federal, provincial and territorial governments legislation to facilitate the promotion, adoption and expansion of pension coverage. This includes continuation of existing defined benefit pension plans, but also encourages the adoption of innovative plan designs.
  • For more diversity on the Judicial Advisory Committees, with a view to having those committees submit a more diverse list of qualified applicants for appointments to the federal bench. It also calls for more transparency in the process.
  • On Ottawa to develop a clear policy to handle issues of solicitor-client privilege when border guards ask lawyers to hand over portable devices for inspection.
  • For amendments by the federal government to the Ministerial Direction to CSIS on Information Sharing With Foreign Entities to remove any discretion the CSIS director may have to use information that may have been obtained through torture, and to prohibit sharing information that may put an individual at substantial risk of torture.
  • For changes to the Criminal Code to allow a judge to order an FASD assessment of an accused adult who is suspected of having Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.


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