As lawyers, we took action to stop a mandatory Marxist requirement
In December of 2016, the board of directors of the Law Society of Ontario (LSO), who are known as “benchers,” imposed a “statement of principles” (SOP) on their membership —a mandatory requirement for renewal of membership—in which they would acknowledge their “obligation to promote equality, diversity and inclusion” in both their professional and personal affairs.
The regulatory body also required law firms with 10 or more lawyers or paralegals to complete an “inclusion self-assessment” every two years and publish the results. Those lawyers and firms who refused to comply with these demands were threatened with “progressive compliance measures.”
The motivation behind these initiatives was to eliminate “racism” in the practice of law, which in their understanding was not actual bias in the treatment of minority colleagues or clients, but the lack of proportionate representation of minorities in the profession of law. Thus, the SOP was in fact a commitment to a belief system—Marxism in a word—which demands equality of outcomes. Henceforth, for the right to practice law, LSO members would be compelled to express commitment to an ideology rather than to unbiased behaviour in their treatment of colleagues and clients.
A minority of legal professionals were alarmed by its implications and decided to take political action. Twenty-three of us formed a campaign team for the 2019 Benchers election that took place in late April. Our slate of candidates were called StopSOP (“Stop the Statement of Principles”) and we were committed to “repealing the requirement and reversing the imposition of identity politics on professional norms,” as leading dissident, Queens University law professor Bruce Pardy put it in a recent National Post article.
Twenty-two of us were elected, resulting in a majority position and a victory for StopSOP. Many were delighted at the result, and many were dismayed. Everyone was surprised, because in the first year of the SOP rollout, although it was mandatory, no penalties were to be imposed for failure to sign, yet virtually all lawyers and paralegals did in fact sign it. Why the compliance then, and the defiance now? I believe it was because our team made an effective case (this, after all, is what we do for a living), and we opened/changed minds in the court of collegial opinion. Democracy worked.
I have always known that any such SOP is an infringement of my freedom of expression and thought, and that compelled speech and policed thought are unhealthy for any society. But I had assumed my only choice was passive resistance and acceptance of discipline for professional misconduct. When StopSOP arose as an alternative, I seized the opportunity to engage more positively—at first, only by donating money, and then, when asked by organizer Lisa Bildy to join the StopSOP slate (and after overcoming feelings of insecurity and shyness), as a full-fledged activist.
During the campaign, I was sidelined by illness and open-heart surgery. But the team continued to support me without complaint. When I felt well enough, I promoted myself through emails and any other way I could, including a March interview with the Law Times, in which I articulated my motivation for running for office. When the results came in, I felt my sense of vulnerability slip away; I felt pride in setting an example for my children.
The slate chose me as their media spokesperson. I had no hesitation in assuming this task, because I had earned my spurs in this role in 2014 as the spokesperson for David Chen, the grocer whose ordeal changed the law on citizens’ arrests. In an interview with the CBC, the reporter’s first concern was to elicit comment on the fact that I shared the slate with mostly white men. I honestly responded that this fact had made no impact on me. Although there had been many comments on our slate’s racial and gender makeup on social media, my own focus was completely on the principles and goals we shared. I hardly know some of the members of the slate personally, but I consider all of them comrades-in-arms in a just cause.
I was also asked why a group of white people would choose an ethnic woman to speak on their behalf. I am 59 years old, with 28 years experience in litigation (and before that, a career in space engineering), but all this reporter could see was my skin colour. I was dismayed and insulted by the implication that I had been chosen as a token minority rather than for my qualifications to do so, and I said as much to the reporter, who had no response. That portion of our exchange was not aired. Too bad. It would have spoken volumes about the media’s obsession with group identity to the general public.
Our slate knew that the results could have gone either way. We are naturally elated that our message, delivered with heartfelt passion, got through to our constituency. Lawyers are on the front lines of individual rights. This was an important victory for the LSO and its membership, but an even more important victory for the principle of freedom of speech, the foundational right on which all our other rights as Canadians rest.
As an immigrant, I have always loved Canada for the nourishment and support for my endeavours I have received since I arrived here at the age of 15. I have always bristled at suggestions that Canada is a racist country. With this election archived in the history books, it is now my turn to give back to Canada, to offer whatever nourishment and support I can to help ensure that the freedoms that attracted my family to its shores, remain strong for my children and for theirs, and for theirs.
Conservative leadership candidate, Peter MacKay, is not a fan of the legalization of marijuana. He says he is worried about how it will affect driving, mental health and young people according to Vice.
During an interview with the Kelowna Daily Courier MacKay said that he believes the legalization of marijuana was “forced” and it should only have been decriminalized.
“It should have been decriminalized and that’s where our government was heading on the advice of the Canadian Police Association and chiefs of police. Bringing in a phased-way with decriminalization would have been far preferable. What I most worry about is the impact on young people, the mental health implications, the impaired driving implications,” said MacKay.
Stats Canada released information that conflicts with some of MacKay’s views. The statistics show that consumption of marijuana in 15-17-year-olds has dropped 10 percent since its legalization.
MacKay described the legalization as a “back-of-a-napkin promise that the current prime minister had made.”
He also called the attempt by the government to reduce black market sales a “complete failure.”
“I believe we have jumped the shark on that issue. More emphasis on protecting people from other drugs, fentanyl and oxycontin has to be part of any plan that’s there for public health reasons.” MacKay continued.
“The promise that it (legalization) was going to reduce the black market has been a complete failure. There’s now simply more marijuana available to more people, including young people. I don’t think that’s the most productive and highest priority that a government could pursue.”
MacKay is not the only politician against cannabis legalization. Former Conservative MP Julian Fantino compared legalization to murder in an old interview with the Toronto Sun, Fantino said, “I guess we can legalize murder, too, and then we won’t have a murder case”
In 2015, Fantino said he was still “completely opposed to legalization of marijuana”
Peter MacKay’s campaign manager Alex Nuttall has had to apologize over a tweet that seemed to link an invitation to a shooting range with complaints about the anti-pipeline protests.
In his original tweet, Nuttall said “tonight might be the best church service ever. People keep walking up to me to saying the blockade should go down … and then they announced a day at the range for anyone that wants to go.”
This tweet soon created outrage on social media, with many seeing Nuttall’s message as a suggestion for Canadians to “shoot ingenious people.” Nuttall, however, was quickly clarified his tweet, saying “there are two unrelated thoughts that shouldn’t have been communicated together.”
Peter MacKay’s campaign has been plagued with mistakes on social media. A few weeks ago, Mackay had to apologize for a tweet referencing the Prime Minister’s indulgence in yoga, which seemed to make fun of the innocuous activity.
After Nuttall published the apology, he made his Twitter account private.
A murder with a hammer that killed a 64-year-old Toronto woman on Feb. 21 is being called a terrorist attack by police, as the murderer now faces terrorism-related charges.
Police say Saad Akhtar, 30, was facing first-degree murder charges over the death of the woman, when those charges were changed to “murder-terrorist activity” by prosecutors. The change was made due to the prosecutors belief that the murder constituted terrorist activity.
“As part of our investigation into the homicide, we came across evidence that lead us to believe there may be a terrorism-related offence,” said Toronto police spokesperson Meaghan Gray to Global News.
Police contacted the Integrated National Security Enforcement Team in Toronto, the group responsible for probing terrorism cases. The charges were then changed Monday morning.
Akhtar would eventually turn himself into police shortly after the attack.
The victim was apparently a random target. Sixty-four-year-old Hang-Kam Annie Chiu was called “a stranger” by the suspect’s mother.
If found guilty of terrorism charges, it would be the first deadly terrorist instance since the July 22, 2018 Danforth shootings in which Faisal Hussain killed two people and injured 13 in Toronto’s Danforth neighbourhood.
Akhtar’s murder occurred on his usual daily walk home from his local mosque, but his mother claims he did not return home at the usual time. Police say the murder did not occur on Akhtar’s usual route home.
The Trudeau government has been forced to apologize after attempting to to hide nearly $200,000 that they gave to an environmental group, according to Blacklock’s Reporter.
The Liberal’s Natural Resource Minister Seamus O’Regan had to tell the public that he was “deeply sorry” after a Conservative MP discovered the supposed cover-up.
The Trudeau government paid the Pembina Institute $182,958 in contracts and $1.7 million in grants between 2017-19.
O’Regan now has some egg on his shirt after previously saying that they paid the Pembina Institute nothing, suggesting that the government did “not [grant] any contracts to the Pembina Institute.”
Before all this was revealed, Liberal MPs called the accusation baseless. Soon after this, however, O’Regan had to admit that the government had made an error in not publishing this money.
In a statement, Minister O’Regan said that he was “discussing the matter with my department officials to ensure this does not happen again … I know now that a mistake was made and this information was false. I am very sorry for that. I am deeply sorry.”