Barbara Kay: Stephen Harper’s last chance to make life fairer for suffering fathers


Barbara Kay: Stephen Harper’s last chance to make life fairer for suffering fathers

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Barbara Kay | May 26, 2014 | Last Updated: May 23 4:52 PM ET
More from Barbara Kay | @BarbaraRKay

In litigation, although lip service is paid by law associations to the “best interests” of the child, make no mistake: lawyers work to advance their clients’ wishes, not the children’s.http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2014/05/26/barbara-kay-stephen-harpers-last-chance-to-make-life-fairer-for-suffering-fathers/

Peter J. Thompson/National PostIn litigation, although lip service is paid by law associations to the “best interests” of the child, make no mistake: lawyers work to advance their clients’ wishes, not the children’s.

Tomorrow, May 27, will feature the conclusion of parliamentary debate on Conservative MP Maurice Vellacott’s private member’s Bill C-560, which proposes an amendment to Canada’s Divorce Act that would protect children’s right, in the absence of proven neglect or abuse, to love and be loved equally by both parents after separation.

Our now-superannuated paradigm — one primary, one secondary parent — is based on the flawed assumption that judges can somehow arrive at the “right” distribution of parenting time. Current social science overwhelmingly deems this an impossible task. Litigation necessarily triangulates the children into their parents’ divorce, encouraging drawn-out, financially crippling and emotionally devastating scenarios from which nobody but lawyers profit. It is an unethical and counterproductive model most Canadians firmly deplore.

All informed critics give our system a failing grade. No other alternative proposed over three decades has proven effective. Mediation has not reduced bitter custody litigation. Neither have collaborative lawyers, costs sanctions, parenting education or any other initiatives. Why? Because litigation remains the ace up the sleeve of the less collaborative parent. Sociological research tells us that what children want after separation is two parents, not one parent and a visitor. But once in litigation, although lip service is paid by law associations to the “best interests” of the child, make no mistake: Lawyers work to advance their clients’ wishes, not the children’s.

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If the bill were to make it to the Justice Committee of the House of Commons for further study and review, parents, social scientists and others who understand these issues far better than our elected representatives would have an opportunity to speak to the issue. But from a reliable government source, I am informed that cabinet ministers have been instructed to vote against Bill C-560, which will vitiate the substantial number of caucus votes in favour. This decision would be an unconscionable insult to Mr. Vellacott and a repudiation of the party’s erstwhile platform position. Add the mass NDP nays and the paucity of free-vote yays from Liberals, and a good and necessary reform will founder.

If I thought the bill were failing on its merits after a thorough public airing and debate, I could accept it with grace. But there has been no public debate, and I know from discussions with intelligent people — even those who claim to grasp the principles involved — that misconceptions about equal shared parenting as a default abound. One such friend said he disagreed with the bill because “I think mothers should have a larger role in parenting after separation.” He apparently thought the bill would force all parents to hew to the equal-time model. On the contrary: collaborative parents could make any arrangement they liked. The default would avoid litigation in high-conflict cases.

A document called “Myths and Facts” to correct such misconceptions was circulated to everyone in Parliament. It fully responds to every concern raised by the opposition. But it seems very few MPs have read it.

If mothers were the main victims of our failing system, would this bill not have passed by acclamation many years ago?

The fact that 30 cabinet ministers, many (most?) of whom are not really familiar with the parameters of the proposals, can shoot down this excellent, deeply researched and judicious principle — one approved of by 80% of Canadians — without an opportunity to inform themselves thoroughly on what it actually means, is cruelly arbitrary and unjustified by any reasonable criterion.

It is also personally embittering. I am familiar with hundreds of personal stories of literally ruined lives, tales of children anguished by forced separation from beloved parents because the “winner” took “all.” The “losers” are virtually all dads. Can we speak plainly here? If mothers were the main victims of our failing system, would this bill not have passed by acclamation many years ago? Why are politicians so afraid of ideologues? They don’t represent Canadian women, a majority of whom want to see gender fairness entrenched in family law.

Tomorrow will be the last chance for the Conservative government to do the right thing. I call upon the Prime Minister to allow his ministers a free vote in accordance with their individual conscience, and to send Bill C-560 to committee for the meaningful consideration it deserves.

National Post

bkay@videotron.ca

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Occupy the Courts, The Civil Rights Movement For Equal Rights to our Children!

http://www.crpa.ca.

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If anyone has experienced a problem with a child protection worker anywhere in Canada, your experience with the worker can now be publicly registered to inform other Canadians of your experience.   The registration website is at http://www.crpa.ca.  Currently registration forms are on line for child protection workers but registration forms for lawyers, judges and other family court related professionals will be put on line as they are developed.  The identity of those who submit names is kept confidential although you must open an account and request that your account be verified by someone from Canada Court Watch.  Verification will avoid child protection workers signing up and giving themselves recommendations to skew the results.  Search tools for the site will be activated as all bugs in the programming are worked out.

Vern Beck,

Canada Court Watch

Canadian Registry for Public Accountability

 

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Texas judge and his wife beats his daughter into submission for using Internet


WARNING! EXTREME VIOLENCE!

Judge William Adams beats his daughter into submission for using the Internet. Mom comes in and tortures her too.
Still not enough! They kick her out of her room to sleep on the couch!
This is the most horrible example of child abuse, I have ever seen.
Dr. Phil, please get this poor girl on the show, she needs a new home. This is the kind of scrum bags sitting on the benches!
Connie Brauer
Victim of judicial abuse
http://www.stopthetorture.info

“I’m going to beat you into submission.”

by Glen Canning on November 2, 2011

I don’t even know what to say about this because the words I’d need to express myself are hard to find. I just watched a video recorded in 2004 in Aransas County, Texas by a teenage girl. It is disgusting. It allegedly shows Court-At-Law Judge named William Adams beating his teenage daughter with a belt for accessing the Internet. He repeatedly screams profanity as he hits away despite her pleas for him to stop. At one point he asks, “Are you going to put more computer games on?” Seriously? He beats and terrorises his daughter for that? This is a crime. The man in this video is not doing this out of love or a sense of duty as a parent. He’s a thug.

And of this morning that thug is being investigated by the Rockport, Texas Police Department. The investigation started last night, right after the video was brought to the department’s attention, Police Chief Tim Jayroe told the International Business Times.

The video on YouTube was posted by user shoehedgie on October 27, 2011. It has almost 500,000 views as of today, November 2nd, and that number will undoubtably increase in the next few days.

The text posted along with the video reads:

2004: Aransas County Court-At-Law Judge William Adams took a belt to his own teenage daughter as punishment for using the internet to acquire music and games that were unavailable for legal purchase at the time. She has had ataxic cerebral palsy from birth that led her to a passion for technology, which was strictly forbidden by her father’s backwards views. The judge’s wife was emotionally abused herself and was severely manipulated into assisting the beating and should not be blamed for any content in this video. The judge’s wife has since left the marriage due to the abuse, which continues to this day, and has sincerely apologized and repented for her part and for allowing such a thing, long before this video was even revealed to exist. Judge William Adams is not fit to be anywhere near the law system if he can’t even exercise fit judgement as a parent himself. Do not allow this man to ever be re-elected again. His “judgement” is a giant farce. Signed, Hillary Adams, his daughter.

The Aranas County web site shows the following News Release:

This is the video. PLEASE BE WARNED IT IS NOT FOR THE SQUEAMISH:

I think both the mother and the father should be charged, jailed, fired and the children put in a loving home. Sorry Hillary, your mom doesn’t get a free ride! She was equally as violent to you and she sure didn’t sound abused!

Connie Brauer

Make judges accountable for their corruption in Canada


Ideas for State Legislation to deal with Judicial and Government Dishonesty and Corruption

Thursday, 07 April 2011 00:00
William M. Windsor
map_outline_91914-200w

America, we have a lot of problems.

Our best hope of fixing some of our problems now is at the state level.  So, GRIP (Government Reform & Integrity Platform) and other organizations are drafting proposed state legislation to deal with dishonesty and corruption with judges and other government officials.

Please review the points that have been submitted thus far, and add your comments to the article below….

The Problem: Dishonesty and Corruption in Government.

A Solution: State Legislation

GRIP and other organizations are combining forces to draft proposed state legislation that will enable We the People to fix many of the problems with the judicial system and dishinest and/or corrupt government officials.

  1. Corruption must be minimized in government. [The government has not been able to effectively deal with corruption in government.  We must put the power to deal with corruption into the hands of the people.  The provisions of this law are designed to do just that.]
  2. Each elected official and every government employee in the state, including all federal elected officials and federal employees operating in the state, shall be required to sign a Contract with the Citizens of the State and the United States.  This Contract requires those signing to be honest at all times while performing their duties and to protect our fundamental rights afforded by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.  Violation of the Contract will be presented to a Special Grand Jury.  [This makes our government officials ACCOUNTABLE to the people; they are essentially accountable to no one at this time.]
  3. Each county shall have grand juries, and citizens will be able to directly present charges of government misconduct and corruption to a Special Grand Jury.  [Article of Amendment V of the Bill of Rights gives grand juries the power to deal with judicial and government wrongdoing through the power of Presentment.  Not all states have county grand juries, but they are needed in every state in every county.  Where grand juries do exist, government officials may block a citizen’s access to the grand jury, and this will be fixed through this clause.]  A complaint for criminal conduct of a judge may be brought directly to the Special Grand Jury upon all the following prerequisites: (1) an affidavit of criminal conduct has been lodged with the appropriate prosecutorial entity within ninety (90) days of the commission of the alleged conduct; (2) the prosecutor declines to prosecute, or one hundred twenty (120) days has passed following the lodging of such affidavit and prosecution has not commenced; (3) an indictment, if sought, has not been specifically declined on the merits by a county Grand Jury; and (4) the criminal statute of limitations has not run.  Investigative grand juries may compel evidence and subpoena witnesses; may compel production of documents filed under seal; may inspect records, documents, correspondence, and books of any department, agency, board, bureau, commission, institution, or authority of the state or any of its political subdivisions; and may require the production of records, documents, correspondence, and books of any person, firm, or corporation which relate directly or indirectly to the subject of the investigation being conducted by the investigative grand jury. Each Special Grand Jury shall have exclusive power to retain non-governmental advisors, special prosecutors, and investigators, as needed, who shall serve no longer than one year, after which term said officers shall be ineligible. Notwithstanding the one year, a special prosecutor may be retained to prosecute current cases in which they are involved through all appeals and any complaints for judicial misconduct.  [This provides terms for the impmentation of this clause.]
  4. Special Grand Juries shall be responsible to ensure that government officials are honest above all else.   The Special Grand Jury shall require active investigation of politicians for corrupt behavior. [This is essential if we are to minimize corruption.  The power must be in the hands of the citizens.]
  5.  All judicial misconduct complaints will be handled by a Special Grand Jury.   The judicial system will cease “policing” itself.  All judicial complaints will be made public.  [Expecting judges to discipline their friends (fellow judges) is not at all right.  Complaints are also kept confidential.  A Grand Jury composed of citizens from the county will ensure fair consideration of the issues.  Making the complaints public will allow others to see the complaints that have been made, and it should serve as a deterrent to those who might commit misconduct.]
  6. All attorney misconduct complaints will be handled by a Special Grand Jury. The association of attorneys (Bar Association) will cease being the sole means of “policing” attorneys. All attorney complaints will be made public.  [Just as with judges as discussed immediately above, expecting the association of attorneys to discipline their members isn’t the independent way that complaints should be handled.  Citizens probably are not aware that the Bar Association is nothing but an association; it isn’t a government entity.  Attorneys do massive damage to people, and the way to minimize this is to make attorneys accountable to a jury of citizens from the county.]
  7. Judges may be removed from office for cause.  Cause shall include deliberate violation of law, fraud, conspiracy, intentional violation of due process of law, deliberate disregard of material facts, using erroneous law, ignoring valid precedents, judicial acts without jurisdiction, blocking of a lawful conclusion of a case, or any deliberate violation of the Constitutions of the State or the United States and the Bill of Rights as well as dishonesty. [The reports of proven judicial corruption nationwide are staggeing; the scary part is all the corruption that the judges are able to hide.  The only way to keep judges honest is to have a Grand Jury and the power to remove judges for cause.]
  8. Judges must address all points raised by all parties in every court decision with a clear explanation with citation to determining facts, statutes, and case law. [One of the dishonest/corrupt techniques used by judges is to ignore the issues, facts, and law.  By forcing judges to address the issues, facts, statutes, and case law on each issue in their orders, judges will either treat the parties fairly or expose their corruption for all to see.  When judges violate this provision, an aggrieved party will now have the ability to take the matter to a Special Grand Jury.]
  9. Appellate judges must address all points of error in every appellate decision with a clear explanation with citation to determining facts, statutes, and case law. [Appellate judges are even more dishonest that lower court judges when it comes to ignoring the issues, facts, statutes, and case law.  By forcing judges to address the issues, facts, statutes, and case law, judges will either treat the parties fairly or expose their corruption for all to see.  When judges violate this provision, an aggrieved party will now have the ability to take the matter to a Special Grand Jury.]
  10. Parties may present claims of attorney misconduct, judicial misconduct, clerk’s office misconduct, and law enforcement misconduct to a Special Grand Jury. [Attorneys, judges, judicial staff, clerks of court, and law enforcement all commit misconduct, and a Special Grand Jury provides the independent tribunal that the citizens need.]
  11. Perjury is a cause of action that will be allowed in a civil suit. [Currently, people can lie repeatedly in court, and those damaged by the perjury have no recourse, and judges do nothing.  Citizens need the ability to seek damages against witnesses in court who commit perjury.]
  12. Judges must insist that people tell the truth in court with extreme consequences for those who don’t. [There are rules that will make the legal process infinitely more fair and less expensive.  Judges must honor and enforce the rules.  It is one of the only ways to get witnesses and attorneys to be honest.]
  13. Attorneys must go by the letter of every law and every professional rule.  Judges must subject attorneys to onerous consequences for violations. [There are rules that will make the legal process infinitely more fair and less expensive.  Judges must honor and enforce the rules.  It is one of the only ways to get attorneys and judges to be honest.]
  14. Attorneys who violate their Code of Professional Conduct shall be referred to a Special Grand Jury. [Attorneys are a big part of the problem with the legal system.  If they followed their Code of Professional Conduct, the legal system would be much fairer, and the expense of litigation would be dramatically reduced.  Accountability by an independent Special Grand Jury should have amazing impact.]
  15. “Motion practice” must be minimized.  Judges must hold conferences and allow attorneys and pro se parties to communicate important issues directly to judges.  [In federal courts especially, judges avoid all contact with the attorneys and parties.  They force the parties to file motions, responses, and replies to motion after motion.  This runs up massive legal fees and provides infinite opportunities for misconduct and mistreatment of the parties.]
  16. Judges may not enter summary judgments when a jury trial has been requested. [Judges corrupt the judicial process by depriving parties of a jury trial.  Juries must make the decisions in legal matters — not judges.]
  17. Judges may not ignore or change the rules of civil procedure.  [Judges may favor one attorney or party over another by selectively ignoring the rules or independently making their own after-the-fact rules.  There are rules, and everyone must adhere to them.  Judges must not be given the power to deprive a party or attorney of the published rules.]
  18. All court decisions shall be published.  [Courts do not publish many of their orders.  This keeps others from seeing their wrongdoing and mistakes.  By publishing every decision, judges will have to do a better job, and they will be exposed to criticism by other judges and attorneys who identify their mistakes.]
  19. All orders must be signed by the judges involved. [In many cases, the judges do not sign the orders.  There is no way to know if the judges actually participated in the decision.  Every order must be signed by the judges involved to prove that they participated in the decision and to make the orders valid.]
  20. The votes of each judge involved in a decision shall be made part of the public record. [When multiple judges are involved, the parties and the public deserve to know how each voted.]
  21. All pro se parties shall be given the ability to make electronic filings, if they choose.  [In most courts, only attorneys are allowed to file electronically.  This also enables them to file just before midnight on a due date.  Pro se parties are forced to print everything, and they have to file by the time the clerk’s office closes (usually 5 pm or earlier).  This inflates the cost for pro se parties, increases the costs of judicial personnel, and gives an unfair advantage to the attorneys.  Pro se parties should take online training on how to use the electronic filing system, and they should have the option to save money and time by filing electronically.]
  22. There shall be no requirement of a legal degree and legal experience for judicial positions in cities, counties, and states. [Lawyers are a big part of the problem with the legal system.  Lawyers as judges come to the position with a built-in prejudice for their friend attorneys and may have a bias against attorneys they faced.  If the participants in a case go by the rules and the law, any intelligent person can serve as judge.  It is unfair to limit judge positions to attorneys.]
  23. Judges must adhere to sentencing guidelines. [There must be rules, and the place for a judge in the process is to go by the rules.  We must minimize interpretation and freedom for judges to do whatever they want, because that is what has made our judicial system so unfair and corrupt.]
  24. All family court trials shall be by jury. [Family court abuse and corruption is one of the most widely-criticized.  Judges and their friends involved in the family court process create a situation ripe for injustice and corruption.  We must remove the judges from this life-altering process for so many people.  Let a jury of local citizens with their own families make these serious decisions.]
  25.  It shall be a child’s right to be raised by his parent(s), free from government intrusion; have an attorney of his choice; be heard in court personally; be allowed to report abuse and know that the system will protect them; be protected from mental and physical abuse by guardians as well as the judicial system; and receive justice. [Currently, the way children and their families are treated by the judicial system is a crime in and of itself.  We the people must protect families and the children.  These rights must be mandated because the existing system is hopelessly broken.]
  26. No child may be taken from family without evidence and a hearing. [Children are being removed from their homes at the whim of people.  This life-altering decision must first be made in court and decided by a jury.  We cannot allow families to be torn apart by people who should have no authority to take such serious action.]
  27. All children deserve to live a childhood free from abuse, exploitation, and government interference during custody litigation. [Custody litigation is devastating to many.  The children must be protected not damaged by the system.]
  28. Campaign contributions are not allowed for funding judicial campaigns. [Campaign contributions create the perfect opportunity for corrupting the judicial system.  Elections for judges should be done with no contributions of any type allowed.]
  29. Complaints about CPS and other state agencies may be presented to a Special Grand Jury. [Government corruption may take place in any agency.  Child Protective Services (CPS) is an area where abuse is often alleged.]
  30. Complaints about foreclosure fraud may be presented to a Special Grand Jury. [Foreclosure fraud is a form of government-assisted corruption.  Those in danger of losing their biggest asset need help and fast.  We the people need to protect them.]
  31. The statute of limitations shall be eliminated in cases of sexual assault against children.  The statute of limitations shall be eliminated in cases of perjury and fraud upon the courts. [Laws must not be used to deprive citizens of recourse for wrongdoing.]
  32. Parties may represent themselves in all legal proceedings in the State.  Corporations, Limited Liability Companies, Partnerships, and other legal entities may also be represented by an officer of the corporation in legal proceedings, and representation by an attorney shall not be required. [Statutes say that parties may represent themselves, but all of the attorneys involved in the law-making and judicial processes have twisted the intent of the law to force legal entities to spend zillions of dollars on attorneys.  Pro se parties (those individuals who represent themselves) are generally discriminated against by judges, and this must not be allowed.  Allowing legal entities to represent themselves will save billions of dollars in legal fees and will dramatically reduce the costs of operating the judicial system.]
  33. A spouse may represent his or her spouse in legal proceedings if there is a properly executed power of attorney granting such right. [Once again, judges ignore the law and refuse to allow an individual to be represented in court by someone pursuant to a power of attorney.  This must be stopped.  When a power of attorney grants a person to handle legal matters, it must apply to anyone in any legal matter, especially litigation.]
  34. Pro se parties now represent approximately one-third of all parties in lawsuits. Each county in the State will establish an office with at least one staff attorney to assist pro se parties at no charge. [Pro se parties usually cannot afford attorneys.  Some courts provide assistance, but most don’t.  One-third of the citizens involved in the legal process must be helped.]
  35. Judges must recuse themselves in specific circumstances, including if they are party to a lawsuit with a litigant.  Bias can be demonstrated by actions in a lawsuit. All complaints of judicial bias will be resolved by a Special Grand Jury if a party chooses to pursue the matter after a judge refuses to recuse himself/herself. [One of the areas of great abuse by judges is their refusal to recuse themselves.  Once again, if judges went by the rules, the system would be fair…but they don’t.  Judges rarely recuse themselves when outsiders would feel the judge has bias that should require them to recuse themselves.  Judges must be encouraged to abide by the rules and the intent of the recusal process, and if they fail to recuse themself three times when a Special Grand Jury says they should have, they should be removed from office.]
  36. No immunities shall be extended to any judge in this State except as is specifically set forth in this Law.  The theory of judicial immunity is to protect judges from frivolous and harassing actions.  However, deliberate violation of law, fraud, conspiracy, intentional violation of due process of law, deliberate disregard of material facts, judicial acts without jurisdiction, blocking of a lawful conclusion of a case, or any deliberate violation of the Constitutions of Florida or the United States and the Bill of Rights and dishonesty are violations by judges that are not frivolous or harassing. A Special Grand Jury’s responsibility shall include determining, on an objective standard, whether a civil suit against a judge would be frivolous and harassing, or fall within the exclusions of immunity as set forth herein, and whether there is probable cause of criminal conduct by the judge complained of.  Special Grand Juries shall also have the power to independently pursue charges against any government officials through the power of Presentment. [Judges have manufactured claims of immunity for themselves using a case from the 1800’s that is archaic and not really even applicable.  Judges must not be allowed to corruptly, maliciously break laws, ignore laws and the facts, andf abuse parties.  They must be held accountable for their wrongs just as each of us is held accountable.  If judges don’t like this risk, then they should get real jobs like we all do.]
  37. Any judge or government official removed from office shall not thereafter serve in any government or judicial position.  Retirement for such removed officials shall not exceed one-half of the benefits to which such person would have otherwise been entitled.  [We must cease giving outrageous benefits to those who commit wrongdoing.]
  38. Should the Special Grand Jury find probable cause of criminal conduct on the part of any judge against whom a complaint is docketed, it shall have the power to indict such judge except where double jeopardy attaches. The Special Grand Jury shall, without voir dire beyond personal relationship, cause to be impaneled twelve special trial jurors, plus alternates, which trial jurors shall be instructed that they have power to judge both law and fact. The Special Grand Jury shall also select a non-governmental special prosecutor and a judge with no more than four years on the bench from a county other than that of the defendant judge. The trial jury shall be selected from the same pool of jury candidates as any regular jury.  The special prosecutor shall thereafter prosecute the cause to a conclusion, having all the powers of any other prosecutor within this State. Upon conviction, the special trial jury shall have exclusive power of sentencing (limited to incarceration, fines and/or community service), which shall be derived by an average of the sentences of the trial jurors. [This procedure is essential for the effective implementation of this Law.]
  39. No judge complained of or sued civilly shall be defended at public expense or by any elected or appointed public counsel, nor shall any judge be reimbursed from public funds for any losses sustained under this Law. [Currently, the government office responsible for taking action against a judge is also the office that provides counsel to represent judges at the taxpayer’s expense.  Judges should have to pay for their own legal counsel, or represent themselves, just as we the people have to do.]
  40. All court cases involving the government or a government employee must be trials by jury, and summary judgments will not be allowed in such cases to avoid the prejudice of a government employee judge having bias for another government employee. [Bias must be protected against at all costs.  It is only human nature for us to “protect our own.”  This must no longer be allowed.]
  41. This Law applies to federal courts as well as state, county, and local courts, because federal courts and federal judges are allowed to operate in the state as a guest of the state. [Federal courts must not be allowed to operate in a dishonest or corrupt manner.  Federal employees functioning in our state must abide by our state’s laws.]
  42. Attorneys and government employees will not be eligible to serve on a Special Grand Jury. [Attorneys and government officials have an automatic conflict of interest and a natural bias for one of their own.  Attorneys may also be risking their careers due to reprisals from a judge or government official that they take action against.]
  43. All elected officials in the state and all government employees in the state must sign a Contract with the Citizens of the State that requires them to be honest at all times and defend the fundamental rights protected by the Constitution and Bill of Rights. [This Contract makes all elected officials accountable to the people.]
  44. All Bar documents must be public record. [Nothing in the legal world should be secret, especially complaints about participants in the legal process.]
  45. All attorneys and judges must pass a competency exam on constitutional principles, particularly rights. [States must ensure that qualified people are in place.]
  46. Impose requirements for bonds on all attorneys and judges, which they pay for out of their own pockets, and make it easy for their victims to file complaints reviewed only by a grand jury. [This will clean up a lot of corruption and dishonesty.]
  47. Open video and audio recording by public shall be allowed at all court proceedings. [Judges and attorneys get away with murder; this will be another excellent tool to make them more accountable.]

Your thoughts, ideas, additions, deletions, etc. are welcomed.  Please just add a comment below.

Thanks

 William M. Windsor

We, Canadians could use this too!

Connie Brauer

Forceful governor general tells lawyers, ‘Heal thyself’


Forceful governor general tells lawyers, ‘Heal thyself’.

In stinging rebuke, Johnston says it’s time legal profession regains sight of justice, public good

Gov. Gen. David Johnston has singled out Ontario as having the worst court processing times in Canada.

Gov. Gen. David Johnston has singled out Ontario as having the worst court processing times in Canada.

Photograph by: Ashley Fraser, The Ottawa Citizen

HALIFAX – Canada’s lawyers and judges are losing sight of their commitments to justice and the public good, and the profession must reform itself and rebuild the trust of ordinary citizens, says Gov. Gen. David Johnston.

In a rare, forceful speech at the opening of the Canadian Bar Association’s annual meeting in Halifax on Sunday, Johnston issued a stinging assessment of the legal profession and pleaded with it to change.

“We need a new model for professionalism in law,” he said. “To borrow a saying from a sister profession: physician, heal thyself.”

A former dean of law at the University of Western Ontario, Johnston said lawyers such as himself enjoy a “social contract” with society: In return for self-regulation and a monopoly over the practice of law, he said, “We are duty bound” to improve justice and serve the public good.

Instead, he said the profession is failing to uphold its end of the deal.

He said Canadians in all provinces wait too long to have their cases heard in court, and face unacceptable delays once there. He singled out Ontario for the worst court processing times in the country, and said despite efforts to reverse the trend, “the pace (of change) is woefully slow.”

Johnston said judges and lawyers must act with “urgency” to break through what criminologists have called a “court culture” of complacency, if they hope to streamline the process.

Johnston also chastised lawyers — not specifically in Canada but across the democratic world — for contributing to the collapse of trust between citizens and public institutions, and the resulting social instability in many western nations today.

He cited the 2008 financial collapse on Wall Street as one example.

“How many lawyers ‘papered’ the deals that involved fraudulent statements of assets, liabilities, income and valuations?” he said.

“How many lawyers ‘sounded the alarm’ about conflict of interest in the web of financial transactions and creative financial instruments?

“How many lawyers were silent in the face of a pattern of deregulation which has left the economy naked to excessive leverage, and which any thoughtful observer knew was bound to have its inevitable pendulum swing?”

Johnston also rebuked Canada’s law schools for losing touch with practicing lawyers in the real world, and for relying too heavily on narrow criteria, such as the standardized Law School Admissions Test, for selecting new students.

He lamented the lack of work-life balance in law firms that “penalize those with a family,” particularly young mothers — a comment that drew applause from the audience.

And, like Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin on Saturday, Johnston said the profession must make legal services more affordable, and simple, for millions of middle-class Canadians.

“For many today the law is not accessible, save for large corporations and desperate people at the low end of the income scale charged with serious criminal offences. We must engage our most innovative thinking to redefine professionalism and regain our focus on serving the public.

“If we wish to avoid having change forced upon us, we must embrace new ideas.”

It is rare for a Canadian Governor General to make such frank public speeches, but Rod Snow, president of the Canadian Bar Association, said he welcomed Johnston’s honest words.

“He talked about things that he knows,” Snow said. “He probably gauged that this audience wanted to hear something of substance and I think he probably got it right.”

Ontario Bar Association president Lee Akasaki said he was surprised by Johnston’s strong stand, but also agreed with it.

“We have to get the bar back on track, be more relevant to the people we serve and hopefully in doing that we’ll improve the image of lawyers,” he said.

Arianna Huffington, the American social media pioneer and founder of The Huffington Post online website, spoke to the conference after Johnston.

She praised his remarks as a “speech of tremendous depth” and said what Johnston highlighted was essentially a breakdown in trust and a crisis of leadership among political and professional elites in many democracies.

“I completely agree with the Governor General,” she said. “Our leaders refuse to innovate because they are afraid of rocking the boat,” she said. “But if they don’t innovate, change will be forced upon them.”

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