CBA legislation and law reform agenda ensures Bar input
While politics can and does lead to the occasional public dispute between the Canadian Bar Association and Attorneys General, the important work of legislation and law reform carries on regardless of media headlines. The CBA has long served as a resource and advocate in the development of laws by federal, provincial and territorial governments.
As part of the National law reform agenda, the CBA co-sponsors with the Department of Justice an annual meeting of Section leaders and federal government lawyers involved in legislation and law reform activities. On November 3, 2006, more than 275 CBA and DOJ lawyers and senior staff met in Ottawa for a full day of briefings and consultation on current and proposed legislation. This was the 18th year of the joint meeting, and this year set a new record for attendance and scope of issues covered.
The day consisted of 22 separate and concurrent meetings, each focussing on specific areas of law and covering a host of legal issues facing Canadians. Among the hundreds of topics covered were some of the following highlights:
- environmental protection (Green Plan II)
- aboriginal matrimonial property rights
- self-defence, mandatory firearms penalties, and age of protection
- separated/divorced parent consents on passport applications
- Unified Family Court
- health records and the U.S. Patriot Act
- federal mandatory mediation
- PIPEDA and the Access to Information Act
- NAFTA/Softwood Lumber Agreement
- objections and appeals under charities law
- Canada Labour Code
- maritime law reform
- time limits for discharge of mortgages
“This meeting is a tribute to the invaluable relationship that exists between the Canadian Bar Association and the federal Department of Justice,” said Janet Fuhrer, Chair of the National Sections Council and co-host of the meeting. “The development of good law requires taking the time to talk through the policy rationale and “real life” implications of change, and this meeting offers a professional, open forum for that discussion.”
At the Branch level, the CBABC is often asked for input on proposed changes in the law and to the justice system. Each year, hundreds of lawyers provide their time and expertise pro bono to help ensure the development of the law in B.C.
“CBA lawyers are essential partners in the development of the law in Canada,” said CBABC President Frits Verhoeven. “Lawyers have the expertise and experience to pinpoint potential legal problems before they occur, and the fact that our members volunteer their time and energy to this work every year is something that deserves our recognition and thanks.”
This article was published in the December 2006 issue of BarTalk. © 2006 The Canadian Bar Association. All rights reserved.