The Power of Perspectives

The Canadian Bar Association
CBA community

Justice for East Africa's children

By CBA/ABC National June 16, 2017 16 June 2017

 

When 15-year-old Edith was charged with robbery for allegedly stealing a cellphone, there were some unexpected consequences.

Her mother lost her job at a food stall in the Nairobi slums because she had to accompany her daughter to court. A widow with five children and no income, she couldn’t pay the cash bond to secure Edith’s release, so the teen was sent to the Nairobi Children’s Remand Home.

But Edith (not her real name) was able to get some help from the Kenya National Working Group, which offers legal advice and psychosocial support for children and youth in contact with the law. A pro bono lawyer got her bail reduced to a free bond so she was able to go home. Now she receives counselling and guidance while she waits to be able to afford to go to school. She dreams of being a teacher.

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CBA community

A conversation with Kerry L. Simmons, Q.C.

By CBA/ABC National June 16, 2017 16 June 2017

A conversation with Kerry L. Simmons, Q.C.

Kerry L. Simmons, Q.C. was a high school student working part time at a small-town law firm when one of the partners was elected president of the CBA-BC branch. J. Parker MacCarthy went on to become the CBA national president. And that left an impression.

“I just watched what he did,” she says. “This was part of being a lawyer – which I knew I wanted to do. As a lawyer, you were part of the CBA and there was an opportunity for leadership in your professional association. I thought I’d like to do that one day.”

Simmons, a partner at Cook Roberts LLP in Victoria, followed in her mentor’s footsteps, serving as president of the BC branch in 2012-13. And on Sept. 1, she takes office as CBA’s next president. National spoke with her about her commitment to public service, the role of the CBA and life outside law.

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Creative licence

Word play: Barry Corbin

By CBA/ABC National June 16, 2017 16 June 2017

Word play: Barry Corbin

 

“As a lawyer, words are my stock-in-trade, so inventing an anagram-based game was a natural. Strudel was perhaps the inevitable result because it takes strategic thinking, time management and finding ways to look at things differently – critical skills for any practising lawyer. The seven-year journey from conception to realization taught me the importance of passion, patience and perseverance.”

Toronto estates lawyer Barry Corbin is the creator of the word game Strudel

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Corporate counsel

Modern slavery: How many slaves work for you?

By Lynne Yryku June 16, 2017 16 June 2017

Modern slavery: How many slaves work for you?

 

Freedom is one of the fundamental values in Canadian society. However, almost 50 million people are in some form of modern slavery around the world—including in Canada. As it is often hidden in a vast range of supply chains, a long way from where goods are sold, most of us are unknowingly benefitting from modern slavery in the products we buy, suppliers we hire and companies in which we invest.

To bring more attention to this evil said to be hiding in plain sight, the International Commission of Jurists Canadian Section hosted the panel, “Modern Slavery in Supply Chains: Trends in Global Corporate Liability and Legislation,” in conjunction with the CCCA. Led by leading global legal experts, the pressing global problem of exploitative labour in supply chains, the role of business in addressing forced labour, and legislative responses to address the problem were discussed.

Panelists included Ruth Dearnley, CEO of Stop the Traffik; Jonathan Drimmer, VP & Deputy GC at Barrick Gold Corp.; Mora Johnson, Barrister & Solicitor and Former Chair of the OECD Forum on Responsible Mineral Supply Chains; Kevin McGurgan, British Consul General and Director-General for UK Trade & Investment in Canada; Peter Talibart, Managing Partner of Seyfarth Shaw LLP (U.K.); Mark Trachuk, Partner at Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP.

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Corporate counsel

Blockchain for in-house counsel

By Julie Sobowale June 16, 2017 16 June 2017

Blockchain for in-house counsel

 

Jillian Friedman fell into the Bitcoin world three years ago. After finishing her articles, she started taking notice of the cryptocurrency and began working with the Bitcoin Embassy in early 2014.

“I started reading a lot about Bitcoin and went down the rabbit hole,” says Friedman. “I’m not a libertarian but I was intrigued by the application of libertarian philosophy to a technology and economic system.”

Friedman quickly became an expert in blockchain and the National Bank of Canada took notice. The bank hired her in 2015 to focus on technology law. She believes blockchain will have a big effect in commerce.

“I’m far more involved in the business side of things,” says Friedman. “I’ve been working closely by tech people for two years. It makes my job to identify risks a lot easier. I learn how things work.”

Blockchain is the legal tech darling of the year. Beyond the hype, blockchain is revolutionary technology that could change how we interact with one another. From financial transactions to health records, blockchain promises to be the next major legal tech frontier.

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CBA Influence

Getting technical: Recommendations for billed-basis accounting changes

By Kim Covert June 15, 2017 15 June 2017

The federal government’s policy rationale for repealing section 34 of the Income Tax Act – the billed-basis accounting tax provision for several groups of professionals – may seem sound, but doing so will create uncertainties and compliance burdens that have sunk similar proposals in the past, says the Joint Committee on Taxation of the Canadian Bar Association and Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada.

The federal government announced in its March 2017 budget that it would remove the exemption available to professionals including doctors, dentists, accountants and lawyers to exclude work-in-progress from their year-end income.

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Justice

Senate committee recommendations to address court delays

By Mark Bourrie June 15, 2017 15 June 2017

Senate committee recommendations to address court delays

 

The federal government should amend the Criminal Code to allow courts to order costs or lighter sentences to accused people whose trials are delayed, rather than issue stays of proceedings, a major Senate report on court delays says.

Bob Runciman, Chair of The Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, says no other major country forces judges to throw out cases for delay.

The committee wants new remedies to replace stays granted under section 11(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Supreme Court of Canada, in the 2016 R v Jordan decision, ruled that long delays breached accused’s Charter rights. The court set a deadline of 18 months for provincial court cases, and 30 months in superior court cases, from the laying of charges to the end of a trial.

“The fallout from that (the Supreme Court’s 2016 decision in R v Jordan), stays granted in very serious criminal matters: first and second-degree murder charges, child sexual assault charges, put court delays squarely in the public consciousness,” Bob Runciman, chair of the Senate’s Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee, said at a news conference Wednesday.

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CBA Influence

The CBA responds to ILO’s call for input on child labour

By Kim Covert June 14, 2017 14 June 2017

Child labour has largely been eradicated in First-World countries yet people who congratulate themselves for not forcing their country’s children to work for pennies also benefit from that kind of labour elsewhere, by paying lower prices for consumer goods.

It’s part of the reason why child labour is such a seemingly intractable problem – world governments failed in their goal to end the worst forms of child labour by 2016. Now the 2015 sustainable development have reiterated the call for an end to child labour. Goal 8.7 sets a goal of 2025 for ending child labour in all its forms– just eight years from now.

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The Supreme Court

Filling McLachlin's seat: What does tradition tell us?

By Justin Ling June 13, 2017 13 June 2017

Filling McLachlin's seat: What does tradition tell us?

 

With Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin retiring, the Trudeau government will have to search for a replacement in that role for the first time in 17 years. The Prime Minister will also have the opportunity to fill her seat.

The big question that will be debated in legal circles in the coming weeks and months is, who will fill her shoes?

Chief Justice McLachlin has been heralded as a consensus-builder on the top court over a nearly two-decade stretch where the court has crafted whole new approaches to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, breathed new life into ancestral rights for Indigenous peoples and reinforced centuries-old treaties signed with the Crown, and pronounced itself on an array of controversial topics from gay marriage to medical marijuana, assisted dying, and sex work.

"Ever the collaborative jurist, she is known for finding consensus on the court and fostering cordial and collaborative relationships with the profession," CBA President René Basque said in a recent statement following the announcement of her retirement.

Her legacy will be a hard one to match.

And the prime minister is going to have a tough job picking one from the current contingent of justices to fill her role as head of the country.

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The Supreme Court

Words of advice to lawyers from CJ McLachlin

By Yves Faguy June 13, 2017 13 June 2017

Words of advice to lawyers from CJ McLachlin

 

As the Canadian legal community digests the news that our Chief Justice of 17 years will be retiring in December, here’s some friendly advice Beverley McLachlin shared with us during an interview in 2010  for lawyers appearing before her court:

Think about what the court will need, what it will be grappling with. We regard counsel as sources of assistance in deciding the case. Will spending 20 minutes on facts help the court? Not really. We’ve already read the briefs and know the facts. So how can you best help the court? Maybe it’s by going to the most difficult issue you face. I’m not trying to give a prescription for how a case should be argued. It varies from case to case. But sometimes one gets the feeling that counsel are trying to bury the most difficult issue, or escape by it, and hope no one will notice. Well the chances are not good. In the spirit of being helpful to the judges, go to the most difficult part of the issue. Say ‘Your honours, you will be grappling with this issue. It is a difficult issue. This is what I have to say about it, and this is why I believe you should decide that issue in favour of my client.’ Give the judges the ammunition, the cases and the resources they need.

It’s perhaps obvious advice to many advocates out there, but I’m struck at how often lawyers are surprised when I relay her comments.

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Child labour

Working towards eradicating child labour

By Mariane Gravelle June 13, 2017 13 June 2017

Working towards eradicating child labour

 

It’s an uncomfortable notion to entertain: the idea that the clothes we wear, the food we eat and the technology that makes our lives easier each day may have been brought to reality – in one small way or another – by the hands of a child. Rare are those who want to support child labour but the fact remains that it still endures, even in 2017.

June 12 – the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) World Day Against Child Labour – offers the opportunity to shine a light on this practice. A report by the same organization offers an insight into the prevalence of – and current trends in – child labour around the world. Examining data collected from 2000-2012, the ILO estimates that 168 million – or 11 per cent – of the world’s children are engaged in some form of child labour. The organization has been collecting data with the view of “eliminating all the worst forms of child labour by 2016”. When the report was published in 2013, the ILO expressed doubt regarding the achievement of that goal and urged the international community to increase their efforts to reduce child labour.

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Immigration law

Why Canada needs limits on immigration detention

By Yves Faguy June 12, 2017 12 June 2017

Why Canada needs limits on immigration detention

 

Immigration detention is a form of administrative detention, and as such should be brief.  But while that may be true for a large majority of immigration cases, says Anthony Navaneelan, a lawyer with the Refugee Law Office at Legal Aid Ontario, we’re seeing more and more cases “where individuals are being detained for extremely long periods of time” under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

Navaneelan, who was part of a panel discussion on immigration detention at the CBA’s Immigration Law Conference in Toronto last week, was making the case that there should be a clear time limit on immigration detention.  Unlike some other countries, Canada has not set a maximum length of time a person can be held.  Navanaleen proposes that limit be set at two years.

To be fair, the Canadian government has made efforts to reduce the length of detentions in Canada. According to the Canadian Border Services Agency, the average duration in 2016-2017 was 19 days, down from 23 days in 2015-2016. The figure has dropped by 20.4 per cent over the last three years.

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