Posts Tagged ‘Freedom of Speech’

Law Society elections send a message on diversity and it’s not what you’d hope

June 27th, 2019 by Shelina Ali

This article was first published on rabble.ca

The Law Society of Ontario (LSO) is once again facing a court challenge claiming that it has violated Section 2 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which protects the right to freedom of conscience, speech and religion. This court challenge follows the LSO’s successful defence of its decision to refuse to accredit the proposed law school at Trinity Western University (TWU) because of a requirement that attendees sign a covenant agreeing not to engage in homosexual activities. The LSO took the position that this prevented equal access to the legal profession in Ontario by excluding individuals who identified as LGBTQ.

The new battle relates to a Statement of Principles that the LSO requires lawyers to provide as of last year. It’s another example of the LSO attempting to enshrine principles of diversity, anti‑oppression and anti‑discrimination in a profession that is known for its lack of inclusiveness and diversity. In this case, the opposition to advancing these values is coming from other lawyers and is proving to be divisive for the governing council of the LSO — the democratically elected body that oversees its governance Read the rest of this entry

The Law Society’s Statement of Principles and what’s at stake

October 31st, 2017 by Safia Lakhani

This article was first published on rabble.ca

In 2012, the Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC) struck a Working Group to investigate the challenges faced by racialized licensees, who comprise approximately 18 per cent of lawyers in Ontario.

Unsurprisingly, the initial consultation report, which was prepared based on feedback from a range of individuals and organizations, concluded that overt discrimination and bias are a feature of daily life for many racialized licensees. Further to that initial report, the committee delivered a series of recommendations in a publication entitled “Working Together for Change: Strategies to Address Issues of Systemic Racism in the Legal Professions” on December 2, 2016,  including a recommendation to increase Continuing Professional Development (CPD) offerings that deal with topics of racialization, requiring licensees to adopt a policy around human rights and diversity to promote fair recruitment, retention, and advancement, and developing “progressive compliance” mechanisms for workplaces that do not comply with the recommendations, or are identified as having systemic barriers to diversity and inclusion.

Amongst the 13 recommendations is a requirement that licensees working adopt a statement of principles acknowledging their obligation to promote equality, diversity and inclusion generally, and in their behaviour towards colleagues, employees, clients and the public — a requirement that has ignited a firestorm in the legal profession.

Some members of the law society have taken to radio and print news to denounce the requirement as  “the most egregious kind of violation of freedom of speech” and an Orwellian Dictate. The Catholic Civil Rights League has objected to the Statement on the basis that it “may override core Christian beliefs.” Even Conrad Black (whose affiliations with the Law Society are unknown) published an editorial in which he condemned the Law Society for conferring “capricious dictatorial powers on its own administration.”

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