Skip to Content

Proposed CBA Bylaw amendments up for debate at AGM

Changes aim to ensure representation, inclusivity and equity.

Voting online

Three resolutions at the upcoming annual general meeting of the Canadian Bar Association (CBA) seek to amend CBA Bylaw No. 1.

The first focuses on the composition of the CBA’s Board of Directors and proposes changes to foster increased representation and inclusivity within the association.

The backdrop to this resolution dates back to September 2017 when a new governance structure was implemented, introducing a Board selection process based on a matrix of geography, diversity, skills and other demographic characteristics.

The proposed resolution would give each Branch and the CCCA the authority to appoint a representative on the Board so that it may have a more nuanced understanding of CBA members and the various activities taking place within the Branches and CCCA. Proponents argue that the changes will strengthen the CBA's ability to make informed decisions that benefit all members.

The proposed resolution also underscores the value of attracting Indigenous lawyers and lawyers with lived experience as members of equity-deserving communities to CBA leadership roles. Two new Board positions would be created, both to align the CBA's ongoing efforts toward reconciliation and to reflect the diversity of the legal profession.

It puts forth specific amendments that contemplate a smooth transition for current Board members in stages, with different timelines for positions ending before and after August 31, 2024, all to ensure continuity and stability.

Have your say on the discussion board.


The second proposed resolution puts forward a key amendment to CBA Bylaw subsection 46(3), addressing the conditions in place so a Branch can incorporate.

The text of the resolution recognizes the evolving landscape of not-for-profit corporation laws, citing the Ontario Not-for-Profit Corporations Act as an example that assigns powers and responsibilities to "members" of the corporation, particularly in electing the Board of Directors. These proposed Bylaw changes would define the scope of corporate membership by permitting a Branch to define its corporate members in their charter as either members of the Branch Board of Directors or the Branch Council.

According to proponents of the resolution, jointly moved by the CBA Board of Directors and the Ontario Bar Association, amending the bylaw to permit a Branch's corporate members to be either the Council or the Board would give more flexibility for Branch elections under modern not-for-profit rules, while maintaining safeguards to ensure that the Branch meets its other terms and conditions.


Have your say on the discussion board.

The Canadian Bar Association is dedicated to advocating for equal outcomes and ensuring all its members, including those from historically disadvantaged communities, can thrive in their careers.

The association’s Bylaw No. 1 should better reflect that commitment, according to Quebec Board member Audrey Boctor. Boctor is the mover of a third proposed bylaw resolution for the Equality Subcommittee, pursuant to which all references to “equality” in the bylaw would be replaced with the term “equity.”

Also proposed is adding a definition of equity that would help clarify the CBA’s mandate and programs by affirming its commitment to supporting historically disadvantaged individuals and communities.

Under the proposed definition, “equity” would mean “the ongoing process of identifying and overcoming barriers to achieve equal outcomes in the legal system and full participation in the legal community, which requires focusing on inclusion, diversity and accessibility."

Have your say on the discussion board.