NEWSLETTER – April 2015
Nancy Cleman, President
Allen Mendelsohn and Larry Markowitz, Editor(s)
Dear Honourable Judges and Colleagues,
At our last meeting, the Society was very fortunate to welcome the Honourable Justice Andromache Karakatsanis as our speaker, on the occasion of the Annual Henry Steinberg Memorial Lecture. Justice Karakatsanis spoke on the topic of “That’s how the light gets in: reflections on the rule of law.” The meaningful presentation reminded us all of our many obligations as lawyers. A more detailed report may be found below. We were also very pleased to have in attendance three generations of Justice Steinberg’s family – his wife, son and grandson.
Our next dinner lecture, on April 16th, will feature the topic of e-discovery; so important as lawyers and their clients are doing more and more online. Corey Bloom and Iain Kenny, specialists in forensics technology at the accounting firm MNP, will address us with their talk entitled “The Evolution of Computer Forensics and E-Discovery in Litigation”. The evening has been approved for one hour of CLE credits from the Barreau. You can register for the dinner-meeting using the links in the sidebar on the left.
Special thanks to our generous sponsor for the evening, Thomson Reuters.
The final two events for the 2014-15 season will be the Young Bar Cocktail on May 21st and the Annual Human Rights Lecture on June 16th. Details will follow soon, and we look forward to seeing you.
I also want to take this opportunity to remind those of you who are eligible to vote in the upcoming elections for the Barreau du Québec and the Jeune Barreau de Montréal to participate in the voting process. The elections for the Barreau du Québec are extremely important. This is the first year of the new governance of the Barreau, which includes many changes. The members of the Montreal section will have the opportunity to vote for four Barreau du Québec directors from a field of seven candidates, as well as for the bâtonnier.
For the first time ever, you will be able to vote electronically. The voting period runs from May 5th through to May 22nd. Everything you need to know about the elections can be found at the Barreau website.
I look forward to seeing all of you on April 16th.
SCC Justice Andromache Karakatsanis: “That’s How the Light Gets In: Reflections on the Rule of Law”
On March 9, 2015, the Lord Reading Law Society held its annual Henry Steinberg Memorial Lecture, featuring the Honourable Madam Justice Andromache Karakatsanis of the Supreme Court of Canada. Her engaging talk was entitled “That’s How the Light Gets In: Reflections on the Rule of Law”, a clever allusion to the lyrics of local legendary troubadour Leonard Cohen. This allusion was even more à-propos since, as she pointed out, Leonard Cohen’s grandfather was one of the founding members of Congregation Shaar Hashomayim, the venue for our dinner!
Madam Justice Karakatsanis was introduced by Society board member Madam Justice Carol Cohen (who is actually a distant cousin of Leonard’s … though on her mother’s side), who described our guest speaker’s well-rounded professional background as both a jurist and a high-ranking civil servant, as well as her interest in the arts.
Madam Justice Karakatsanis began her speech by reminding members of the audience (which included the chief justice of every level of the court system in Quebec and the bâtonnier of all major bar associations in Quebec) that the work we do as jurists is critical in shaping the rule of law, so that it “bends towards justice”.
“The rule of law is how we mend society’s imperfections”, mused Madam Justice Karakatsanis.
Canada was founded on the basis of the rule of law. It orders civil society, allowing us to resolve disputes in a peaceful manner, while protecting the public from arbitrary actions of the state.
As Martin Luther King stated, justice is more than rules and laws. An essential element that must be thrown into the mix is humanity. Equity, integrity and respect are fundamental Canadian values. These values, combined with an independent bar and respect for solicitor-client privilege, make Canada a world leader in implementing the rule of law. Our system functions effectively because the Canadian public accepts its legitimacy.
Why does this matter?
The rule of law illuminates our Canadian way of life in three principal ways:
1- The Rule of Law: Economic Certainty and Stability
By taking on their clients’ cases, lawyers make a difference by ensuring access to justice. In Canada, that justice is administered independently. The court system is accessible and does not charge onerous fees to allow parties to be heard. As a result, Canada’s justice system is admired internationally.
However, we must not be complacent, as there are ongoing challenges to access to justice in our country. For instance, “justice delayed is justice denied”. If these challenges are not dealt with, our social and economic order could be at risk.
To ensure stability in our legal system, we need clear laws and justice that is administered fairly – regardless of “who you know”. Without an effective court system, society would look to other, potentially less desirable methods of dispute resolution – potentially meaning that the “stronger party [would] win”.
If our system of justice is perceived to be weak, people would compensate through their behaviour: For example, businesses would be hesitant to change suppliers, sticking with the “one they know”. This would result in a less fluid and less competitive economy. This point illustrates the positive real-world effects that a robust system of justice has on our commercial reality.
2 – The Rule of Law: Limits on Government Action
Legal counsel and the courts each play a role in protecting the various institutions in society. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the independent judiciary that interprets the Charter are at the centre of this process.
Even when a trial judge finds a “$20 drug dealer” not guilty by reason of their Charter rights right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure having been violated, the Court is effectively protecting all of society against excessive government action.
In R. v. Fearon, 2014 SCC 77, Madam Justice Karakatsanis wrote the minority opinion. In her dissent, she stated that modern smartphones are a “portal to our digital lives” and therefore need to be protected against illegal search and seizure as much as our homes.
3 – The Rule of Law: Allows Us to Work through Society’s Social Issues
Each of the branches of government – legislative, executive and judicial – has a distinct role to play in ensuring that the rule of law applies, and the Charter provides us with a legal framework to work through conflicts between individuals and the society around them.
Family relationships have evolved greatly over time. For instance, the Supreme Court decision in M. v. H.,  2 S.C.R. 3, held that the definition of a “spouse” contravened the equality provisions in the Charter.
At the time, Madam Justice Karakatsanis worked for the Ontario Ministry of Justice and was entrusted with the responsibility for coming up with the Ontario government response to the decision. This Supreme Court decision ultimately required the amendment of multiple laws and statutes. Once the judiciary had played its role, it was the turn of the legislative branch to play its role.
Indeed, the courtroom is where the three branches of government come together for the administration of justice. It is the “intersection of the political and the legal” – the place where a “dialogue” takes place to “bend the rule of law towards justice”.
Madam Justice Karakatsanis feels the burden of responsibility in every case that is heard before the Court. This is a testament to the strength of the rule of law in Canada. Even when the rule of law doesn’t please everyone, the work of our guest speaker and her fellow Supreme Court justices serves to protect the rule of law.
The rule of law must be infused with Charter values and humility when being applied by judges. We need to cherish the rule of law and protect it through our professionalism as jurists. Each of us has a role to play to ensure that the law is applied impartially and with an open mind in conformity with the wishes of the legislator.
In her concluding remarks, Madam Justice Karakatsanis pointed out that through our everyday respect for access to justice, we create something more glorious that enhances our Canadian way of life – Tzedek tzedek tirdof (“Justice justice shall you pursue”).
Young Bar Cocktail – Save the date!
David Ettedgui & Marissa Lydynia, Young Bar Chairs
The annual Lord Reading Young Bar Cocktail will take place this year on Thursday, May 21st. We will be sending out invitations with details to our Young Bar members shortly, but we wanted to let you know for you to mark it in your calendars. We look forward to seeing you!
CLE at Lord Reading
Hershie Frankel and Larry Markowitz
We would like to remind everyone that the new two-year period for counting your CLE hours for the Barreau commenced on April 1, 2015. All Lord Reading events are certified by the Barreau for CLE credit, and credit is available to anyone who signs in at the CLE table / reception table at our events.
The Society looks forward to offering CLE credits to all our members and friends for years to come!
Events of Interest
The Society is pleased to inform you about the following upcoming outside events which may be of interest to our members.
- The Society’s young members are encouraged to participate in the annual Young Bar of Montreal English Oratory Competition to be held on June 9th. More information can be found on the AJBM website.
- On April 29th, The Canadian Institute for Jewish Research (CIJR) is presenting a one-day conference entitled “Israel’s High-Tech Miracle and Canada: Innovation for Humanity”. For more information, please visit the Conference website and their Facebook event page.
- Chabad is organizing a CLE Israel Mission from October 18 – 27, 2015. The trip includes a full 30 hours of CLE credits. For more information, please visit the website.
News from the Mishpuchah
- To Past President Ian M. Solloway on being named for a 7th consecutive term as Chair of the English-Speaking Section of the Bar of Montreal. In recognition and in advance of his being presented the Mérite du Barreau, Ian was the subject of a wonderful profile in the Barreau de Montréal newsletter, which we encourage you to read
- To Past President Robin Schiller on being named Councillor of the Bar of Montreal
- To Society member Brian Mitchell on being named Treasurer of the Bar of Montreal
- To Past President Ian M. Solloway on the birth of his granddaughter Emma Blossom Saks