Candidate bio description
Paralegal with 27 years in operation as sole practitioner (since 1992) Licensed in 2007 Hon.B.A. Law/Political Science, Public Admin, & LL.b.
What inspired you to run for bencher this year?
Opposition to SoP and the underlying lack of transparency in the LSO. The application of this ‘accountability theory of democracy’ in the context of the PSC election leads straight to the issue of transparency and the ‘rule’ regarding ‘in-camera’ meetings. The ‘rule’ that all committee meetings of the LSUC are ‘in-camera’ is at the root of the problems with the paralegal profession and indeed goes to the heart of the negative perception of lawyers by the public. This is the ability of the people to know what their representative have done (or not done) in the exercise of the power that they have been given on trust. We do this by having open debates in our legislatures which, but for specific justifiable exceptions, are available for dissemination to the public. Secret meetings are an unjustified abrogation of the obligation of accountability to the electorate and in this way undermines the legitimacy of the LSUC. It is an anathema to our democratic tradition.
What do you believe is the biggest issue facing the legal profession?
Family law, Small Claims Appeals, POA & Criminal & Immigration are all priority issues. Other issues include longer placements, practice specializations, LSO transparency, Budget & Fees and especially the Statement of Principles (SoP). The SoP is fundamentally different than other issues. It’s more than checking a box on the Annual Report. It speaks to who we are and what we represent. Compelled speech is an anathema to everything we stand for as members of the legal profession.
What would be your first priority upon election?
First, come together with the other elected P1 benchers to figure out what the right objectives are and work out a coordinated strategy to reach them. Second, identify the stakeholders on the issues and what their motivations are. Different groups have different goals and there will be a varying and shifting degrees of alignment. Knowing who your allies are and are not is crucial to success. Third, you have to identify the ‘thought leaders’ in any given group and build a relationship of trust and co-operation. As I said in previous post, my belief is that trust comes from understanding and understanding comes from honesty and communication. And to that, would be to set up some kind of feedback loop with the OPA and paralegals in general. Getting one professional organization representing all paralegals would be a crowning achievement.
What do you hope to achieve over the next four years as a member of Convocation?
STOP SoP - aside from the obvious rights and ethical issues at the very least it is disrespectful to the profession, causes disunity and does nothing to help the cause it champions. Open up in-camera meetings - increasing public and licensee trust in the profession and enabling true democratic accountability. Secret meetings build only suspicion and distrust. Education - longer school with paid placements, licencing and scope specific accreditation. Our professionalism and competence must be unparalleled. OPA recognised as the professional association with funding generated directly from the fees.
What's the most pressing concern for the profession in your region of the province?
The domination of the GTA at the LSO makes regional representation with the LSO a clearly relevant issue. It might take time to achieve but it is certainly possible. The predominance of the Toronto area voters means the issues and the politics will forever be GTA-centric. Will there ever be a paralegal bencher from Thunder Bay or Windsor or Ottawa? While the argument about insufficient number might be valid enough now the growing numbers of P1s make that argument less significant as time goes on.
Do you support the requirement to create and abide by a statement of principles?
Compelled speech is an anathema to everything we stand for as members of the legal profession. The irony of trying to force someone to have principles should itself be enough to give pause. But really, this discussion should begin and end with ‘It’s not what you think that’s important, it’s what you do’. Do we really have to go any further than that? The SoP anti-democratic because it represents the institutionalization of a social agenda, (left or right I don't care), on an important part of the governing bureaucracy which should remain neutral. This is outside the mandate of the LSO which is meant to govern conduct not thought.