Dear Colleagues, Honourable Judges, and Friends of the Society,
The past year was a busy one for the Society as we held at least one event per month from September through May. I am truly delighted for all that we have accomplished this season. A brief recap is in order.
My term began with our annual Alan B. Gold Advocacy Lecture, where we were privileged to have Richard W. Pound, C.C., O.Q., Q.C., Ad. E, FCA, former vice-president of the International Olympic Committee and founding Chairman of the World Anti-Doping Agency as our guest speaker. Me Pound's speech was entitled “Doping: Parallel legal universes and a challenge of Olympic proportions.”
On October 25th, the Lord Reading Law Society hosted a gala evening featuring the Honourable Rosalie Abella of the Supreme Court of Canada and the Honorable Stephen Breyer of the United States Supreme Court in a discussion moderated by Canada’s former justice minister, the Honourable Irwin Cotler.
In a captivating exchange, our esteemed panellists discussed their roles as justices on the highest court of their respective countries, while contrasting the Canadian and US approaches to freedom of speech and other human rights topics. This gala dinner was attended by some 500 people, including luminaries from Montreal’s legal, academic, political and diplomatic communities. A truly memorable and historic evening for the Society!
On November 22nd, we held our annual Young Bar Hockey Night, where law students and younger members enjoyed a drink and networked while ostensibly watching the Habs on TV.
On December 5th, the Lord Reading Law Society held its first Members-only CLE Breakfast of the season in the 26th floor main boardroom of Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP.We were pleased to welcome special guest speakers Rhonda Rudick and Reuben Abitbol, tax lawyers at Davies, who spoke on “The Impact on Professionals of Tax Reform Proposals Regarding Private Corporations”. Following a tasty breakfast, the audience listened intently as Me Rudick and Me Abitbol examined the potential impacts of the federal government’s new tax proposals on private corporations, income sprinkling and the taxation of professionals’ work in process.
On January 24th, the Lord Reading podium was graced by three of the most successful women in Quebec's legal community. The evening began with the presentation of the second annual Prix du Ministre de la justice du Québec – Association de droit Lord Reading by Québec Justice Minister Stéphanie Vallée followed by Osler’s managing partner Sandra Abitan's interview of Loto-Québec CEO Lyne Roiter on stage. Throughout this "fireside chat" Me Roiter displayed humility as she recounted her journey to the top of our province’s lottery and gaming crown corporation - as the first woman, first Jew, first Anglophone and first lawyer to reach this prestigious post.
On February 22nd, the Lord Reading Law Society held its second Members-only CLE Breakfast of the season at the offices of Lapointe Rosenstein Marchand Melançon. We were pleased to welcome special guest speaker Marissa Carnevale, lawyer at LRMM, who spoke on “Facebook and Twitter and Instagram, Oh My! - Social Media Law in Business”. The audience was enthralled as Me Carnevale gave a wonderful talk on the legal implications when social media and business mix.
On March 15th, on the occasion of the annual Justice Henry Steinberg Memorial Lecture, we were honoured to welcome the 29th Premier of Quebec, the Honourable Jean Charest, PC. His captivating talk was entitled, “Canada and the Challenge of Maintaining a Rules-based International Order”.
On April 18th, our first-ever young members-only CLE lunch was sold out! The event was held at the offices of De Grandpré Chait where we welcomed real estate experts Mes Ashley Kandestin and Jacqueline Stein who told the enraptured and well-fed crowd about the important changes to Quebec's “Taxe de Bienvenue”. Photos of the event are on Facebook. We look forward to adding this very successful new event to our annual schedule.
This brings us to our Annual Human Rights Lecture and final dinner of the season, which will take place on Tuesday, May 15th. On this occasion, the Society is pleased to welcome The Honourable Salim Joubran, recently retired justice of the Supreme Court of Israel, the first Arab to hold the position. Justice Joubran's talk is entitled "Human Rights: Unique Perspectives of an Arab Justice on Israel's Supreme Court".
An early registration discount will be available for Society members who register by Thursday, May 10th. You can register by using the links at the left of this page. We also have our special student discount price of $36; email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Given the above-listed activities and lineup of first class speakers, it’s no wonder that this year’s events set attendance records and the head table at our dinners was regularly graced by leading judges, lawyers, politicians, bar association leaders and academics, further solidifying Lord Reading’s prominent place in the Montreal legal landscape.
This prominent role was well displayed in the nation’s capital. Indeed, on March 29th, both the House of Commons and the Senate paid tribute to the Lord Reading Law Society on the occasion of its 70th anniversary. I had the privilege, along with incoming president Inna Nekhim and past president Larry Markowitz, of representing the Society on Parliament Hill.
A special thank you to MP Anthony Housefather and Senator Marc Gold for their most eloquent tributes to our Society, which are available at thse links:
You can read more about this exciting day further in the newsletter.
The Society will also be honoured by the provincial government. On May 10th, none other than the Justice Minister of Quebec, The Hon. Stéphanie Vallée, will rise in the National Assembly to pay tribute to Lord Reading’s contribution to the cause of justice in Quebec for the last seven decades. I look forward to representing the Society in the Blue Chamber.
It has been an honour to serve as your President and I could not have done it without the dedication and support of the Society’s Board, Executive, Past Presidents, committee members and volunteers. While there are way too many to mention personally, certain individuals deserve special recognition. Lara Malewski and Allen Mendelsohn, as they do every year, work tirelessly to ensure all our events and day to day activities run smoothly. I am also extremely indebted to immediate past president Larry Markowitz, whose tremendous work on expanding the Society’s reach I hope I have built on, and who has been a trusted confidant throughout my mandate.
The Society's next President will be Inna Nekhim and she will be inaugurated on May 15th. I am confident that under Inna’s leadership the Society is in good hands. I will have the distinct privilege of chairing Inna’s first dinner of the year, which will be most memorable as we will award an Honorary Life Membership to the former Chief Justice of Canada, the Rt. Hon. Beverley McLachlin. We look forward to another historic evening at the Society.
May the Society continue to go from strength to strength!
I hope to see you all on May 15th!
On March 15, 2018, on the occasion of our annual Justice Henry Steinberg Memorial Lecture, the Lord Reading Law Society was pleased to welcome as its guest speaker the 29th premier of Quebec, the Honourable Jean Charest.
Before a packed house, including members of Justice Henry Steinberg’s family (his namesake grandson among them), former premier Charest shared his views on the current state of geopolitics in the world and Canada's place within it. His captivating talk was entitled, “Canada and the Challenge of Maintaining a Rules-based International Order”.
Always the engaging speaker, Mr. Charest prefaced his observations with entertaining tales from his early days as a lawyer - and prior: It seems he was initially attracted to Law by watching Perry Mason at the family home in Sherbrooke. Each week, the lead character would defend the proverbial 'widows and orphans’ in a jury trial, and “Maître” Mason would always end up on the winning side!
After graduating from the Université de Sherbrooke law faculty, Mr. Charest pursued his own version of a "Perry Mason"-esque career, practising criminal defence law for legal aid clients. In doing so, Mr. Charest discovered a new world where not everyone was as fortunate as he was and where people sometimes lacked even basic literacy skills.
Besides defending his clients’ rights under the then newly-minted Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Mr. Charest became a “social worker” of sorts, trying to improve the lives of his clients. In one humourous anecdote, Mr. Charest recounted how, unbeknownst to his wife, he had allowed a client (who had been accused of stealing a safe - "On ne l'a pas trouvé encore !") to sleep on the Charest family's living room sofa, leading to a very surprised wife the next morning!
Eventually, Mr. Charest realized that the best way to combine his "social worker" tendencies and the law was to become a politician.
The next 28 years, as we all know, saw Mr. Charest rise to the position of deputy prime minister of Canada under his tutelage of his mentor, Brian Mulroney. In 1995, he co-led the winning "No" forces in the 1995 sovereignty referendum, followed by a leap to Quebec politics, eventually serving as premier at the head of three consecutive Liberal governments from 2003 to 2012. As premier, Mr. Charest pushed for trade negotiations between Canada and the European Union, which eventually resulted in the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). Mr. Charest is now a partner at McCarthy Tétrault, where he provides strategic advice to clients on business issues around the world.
“I never thought Trump would win”
Our guest speaker then proceeded to share with us his views - with the provisos (always the lawyer!) that "I never though Trump would win" and "I predicted a 55-45 anti-Brexit vote".
Current global trends addressed by Mr. Charest included rising populism, rising nationalism and rising authoritarianism. Meanwhile, there’s an emerging middle class in Asia and extreme poverty is being significantly reduced around the globe. Mr. Charest also addressed trends in immigration, ranging from refugees to economic migration to "aspirational migration".
In today’s world, political discourse has become polarized: left vs. right; capitalist vs. working class; pro-trade vs. anti-trade. Class consciousness is exploited by nationalist politicians. Mass movements of populations lead to unease in some corners of the population. That unease is exploited by nationalist leaders.
"The problem with nationalism is it's hard to put the toothpaste back in the tube"
In the shadow of increasing inequality between rich and poor, many view immigration as a zero-sum game – the belief that "if an immigrant is advancing, it must be at my expense".
Cultivating nationalism has become a short-cut to power for many politicians internationally. Leaders in countries like Japan, China, India and Russia harken back to a long-ago time when their countries led great empires or exhibited other forms of perceived “greatness”. Nationalism is often combined with populism, as we have seen in recent elections in Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and now Italy.
"The country that gets immigration right will have the edge"
Mr. Charest also discussed the phenomenon of “aspirational immigration”, where highly-educated mobile professionals move to new places to take advantage of economic opportunities. Places like Québec - with its aging slow-growing population - are in need of skilled labour. This was one of the reasons that Mr. Charest signed labour mobility agreements with France when he was premier.
Mr. Charest contrasted the current US administration's approach to international affairs ("competition between nations") to that of Canada, which seeks to play a leadership role in a rules-based international order. The United States is the world's most powerful country and doesn't necessarily feel it needs a rules-based international order.
Ominously, Mr. Charest observed that it's beginning to look like we will be living in a multi-polar world, with the USA, China and Russia as competing superpowers.
“Politics will be replaced by imagery. The politician will only be too happy to abdicate in favor of his image because the image will be much more powerful than he could ever be.” - Marshall McLuhan
The 1972 words of media theorist Marshall McLuhan - "politics will be replaced by imagery” - are coming true in this age of social media. While the realization of McLuhan’s prediction is "concerning", Mr. Charest did offer words of optimism: “If we decide it will be otherwise, it will happen".
Our leaders need to take the high road. As the former premier would tell his political colleagues, “When you speak in public, say what you think, but don't say everything that runs through your head - especially if you speak on behalf of others.”
Canada has an important role to play in defending a rules-based world order. That said, we cannot be complacent. After all, we've had our moments: In 2014, the Parti Québécois attempted to institute its Charter of "Values" and in the 2015 federal election campaign, the Harper Conservatives flirted with identity politics. Canadians instinctively stayed away, but we must remain vigilant. Hopefully Canadian voters will again rebuff any future attempts to benefit electorally from such divisiveness.
"If citizenship were a lottery, we (Canadians) won first prize"
We should be thankful to be Canadian. We should cherish this gift. Indeed, we have a responsibility to enhance what it means to be Canadian, and to pass along our good fortune to future generations.
Jean Charest left us all feeling a bit more appreciative of how fortunate we are to live in this great country. And this time, he didn’t have to wave his passport from behind the podium to prove his point!
You can relive the event through a set of wonderful photos on our Facebook page
Immediate Past President Larry Markowitz, Senator Marc Gold, President David Ettedgui and 1st VP Inna Nekhim at the Senate
This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Lord Reading Law Society’s founding in 1948. While the circumstances surrounding the practice of law by Jewish members of the Bar have changed for the better since then, our raison d’être still applies: We continue to fight for human rights and in defense of minorities, while organizing top-flight academic and social programs for our members and guests, featuring prominent speakers from the judiciary, the bar and the worlds of politics and business.
On the occasion of this milestone, Lord Reading will celebrate, and be celebrated, in a number of ways.
This ‘season of tributes’ commenced March 29th on Parliament Hill, where the Society was represented by President David Ettedgui, First Vice-President Inna Nekhim and Immediate Past President (and yours truly) Larry Markowitz.
Our day began in the House of Commons, where Mount Royal MP Anthony Housefather asked his fellow Members of Parliament to “help […] honour this terrific organization”, before wishing us “continued success in [our] efforts to promote the equality and rights of all within the legal community and Quebec society at large”.
That afternoon, each of the Society’s three representatives was formally welcomed by name to the Senate Chamber by the Honourable George J. Furey, Q.C., Speaker of the Senate.
Subsequently, Senator Marc Gold paid tribute to the Society in an eloquent and heartfelt speech in which he made reference to his own family connection to the Society (our annual Alan B. Gold Advocacy Lecture is named for the Senator’s late father, former chief justice of the Superior Court of Quebec).
Senator Gold stated:
In fighting for the interests of its members and in defending the rights of all minorities, the Lord Reading Law Society is true to the highest ideals of the Jewish tradition, for as the famous sage asked more than 20 centuries ago:
If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, who am I? If not now, when?
Senator Gold concluded his remarks by congratulating the Lord Reading Law Society “on 70 years of effective and constructive leadership”. All senators then offered a lengthy round of applause in celebration of Lord Reading’s landmark anniversary.
Stay tuned as our 70th anniversary continues to be celebrated in various ways, and in various venues, over the coming months.
As Senator Gold wished for us: “May [the Society] continue to go from strength to strength”!
May 30th, 2018! The young Bar Cocktail will be a treat this year! Details coming soon...