Candidate bio description
I was called in 1988, and have worked in large and small firms, before establishing my own firm in 1996. I have appeared in trial and appellate courts across Canada, including the SCC. I have served as a leader of charities and non-profits, including the Thomas More Lawyers’ Guild, the Catholic Civil Rights League, the Faith and Freedom Alliance, and on parent advocacy councils. I am active in legal teaching, and in fundraising for civil liberties, conscience rights, Coats for Kids, and pro bono work. I am an active volunteer, and serve as a minor hockey coach and referee. I received the TCDSB Alumni Award and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for contributions to constitutional freedoms, services to the profession, and development of public policy.
What inspired you to run for bencher this year?
The Law Society has strayed from its governance role, from ensuring competent and ethical lawyers and from protecting the public from unscrupulous actors, toward an activist engagement to pursue politically correct viewpoints, including compelled speech from its members on ideological viewpoints. The Society's budget has grown from roughly $110 million to $142.5 million over the past four years, an expansion of 29 per cent under the current benchers. The Society currently employs 615 full time equivalent employees, which represents only one half of the budget expenditures. The Society actually runs at a deficit, the shortfall made up with $8 million from other funds. Can we really afford a similar growth rate for the next four years? Some frugality is in order.
What do you believe is the biggest issue facing the legal profession?
We face a challenge to maintain our independence as a profession from increasing demands for civic totalism, where dissenting viewpoints are no longer respected, let alone tolerated. Lawyers serve a crucial role in our constitutional matrix, and in the operation of the justice system. We act for the underdog, the criminally charged, and those in need. We need to maintain our independence, while fulfilling our role, with humility and purpose. The more the Society strays into areas of political correctness, the weaker we become. The Society plays a role in providing oversight on competence, ethics, and governance, while also promoting access to justice. But we should remove unnecessary barriers on members, to provide greater flexibility in serving our important role in society.
What would be your first priority upon election?
There is a need for an immediate assessment of budgetary excess. A growth pattern of 7 to 8 per cent in expenditures cannot be sustained. The continued pursuit of the EDI initiative is an obvious area for cost reduction, not merely at the Society level, but as it applies to individual practitioners. Having to answer 45 questions on inclusivity in an unscientific survey in our annual return is not a matter for which the Society should be engaged.
What do you hope to achieve over the next four years as a member of Convocation?
I hope to provide some measure of restraint on excess. I am hopeful that the profession will be in a better position in four years, with a reduced demand for costs in order to be in practice, but with a greater willingness to serve the public interest.
What's the most pressing concern for the profession in your region of the province?
There is a need for members of the public in accessing competent and affordable lawyers. We need to reduce barriers of entry to the profession, such as excessive fees, while enhancing or increasing general competence. The availability of artificial intelligence and more widespread sources of legal information will still require practitioners, but there will be a need for flexibility in adapting to new challenges. The Society can be a source of leadership in adapting to new realities, without imposing unnecessary burdens. Compelling ideological viewpoints on its members must be avoided.
Do you support the requirement to create and abide by a statement of principles?
No. The imposition of the Statement of Principles, as part of the EDI "culture shift" mandate, is an affront to the freedoms we enjoy, and in particular to the independence of the bar. We are called upon to challenge laws every day. Lawyers should not be pressured by progressive discipline to adopt a politically correct stance. We stand for a vigorous defence of our cherished constitutional freedoms, and our clients expect nothing less.