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Yigal Rifkind

City of Toronto Electoral Region
Yigal Rifkind

Candidate bio description

I was born in Hamilton, Ontario, but have lived most of my life in Toronto. I went to undergrad at York University, after studying for two years in Israel. I attended Osgoode Law School, and articled for the firm Solomon Rothbart Goodman LLP, under Mel Solomon. I have worked as a sole practitioner for approximately 11 years, focusing primarily on real estate and mortgage transactions. I volunteer for a number of charitable endeavors, such as Laniado Hospital, the Jerusalem College of Technology, and I am currently president of my synagogue, Yavneh Tzion.

What inspired you to run for bencher this year?

Every day I see new public lynchings of individuals for statements that they say, or are implied to have thought. When our own Law Society demanded that we make a diversity pledge to value diversity I felt it was time to speak up. To demand obedience in thought is a truly abhorrent request.

What do you believe is the biggest issue facing the legal profession?

I don't believe that there are "big" issues facing our profession. There is a bureaucracy creep... each year we (lawyers) think there are other committees or things that we should be invested in... and then we create committees and those committees have suggestions and those suggestions are reviewed.

What would be your first priority upon election?

My priority is to limit the bureaucracy, no new committees, no new investigatory committees. If a proposal is suggested, we should be thinking about what it costs the members and whether it is a worthwhile endeavor. Our first instinct should be to do nothing. Doing anything (though it may be motivated by an esoteric feeling that we should be "doing good") always has consequences and often does harm.

What do you hope to achieve over the next four years as a member of Convocation?

See above.

What's the most pressing concern for the profession in your region of the province?

A creeping totalitarianism that demands obedience in thought and statements enforced through the law society itself. While policing "words" is nothing new, the ability for the law society to review every private conversation is only increasing yearly - this ability is incredibly disconcerting, fascist and inherently contrary to the principles of a full and vibrant society.

Do you support the requirement to create and abide by a statement of principles?

In the play ‘A Man For All Seasons’, Sir Thomas More is being cross examined by the prosecutor. Sir Thomas More asks the prosecutor: “would you break the law to capture the devil?”. The prosecutor responds, “break the law? I would cut down every law in Christendom”, to which Sir Thomas More responds, “and when you have finally caught the devil and he turns against you, where would you got to for protection, having already cut down all the laws?”. Demanding uniformity in thought, demanding obedience is simply an abhorrent idea. Why are we being increasingly policed on what we say and think? Do we not have the freedom to speak? Do we not have the freedom to think what we want? In the United States it seems that Chinese students, because they are over-represented in universities, face a more difficult time in getting admitted. There is a lawsuit that claims that this is done in the name of diversity. This is not to say that diversity is a bad thing. It isn’t. But if it was, could I not argue that it is? To be so condescending, didactic, pretentious and self-righteous to demand that we sign a pledge affirming that our thinking is like your thinking strikes me as inherently improper. Even if I agree with the statement, the idea that I’m being policed on what I think is a truly revolting idea. 

Poll Question

What do you see as the top issue that prospective benchers need to address if they are elected?