A. Cameron Ward Barristers and Solicitors
A. Cameron Ward Tel: (604)688-6881
Fax: (604)688-6871
58 Powell Street
Vancouver BC
V6A 1E7
Latest Action Post

Premier-elect Christy Clark is poised to announce her new cabinet at 2:00 p.m. today.  Members of the public and legal profession should be watching closely to see who will occupy the important position of Attorney General.  Will the Premier continue to buck tradition, constitutional convention and common sense by installing a non-lawyer as the Attorney, or will she appoint someone with adequate legal training and experience?

The Court of Appeal has now posted its decision in our client Lesslie Askin’s legal challenge, and we have instructions to seek leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada on her behalf.

In my view, the best candidate for the job would be MLA Andrew Wilkinson.  We’ll see….

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The other day, a friend of mine who lives in Vancouver Point Grey said he was conflicted about who to vote for in the provincial election.  I don’t live there, but if I did, the choice would be clear.  I have met Christy Clark, and she is certainly personable enough, but NDP challenger David Eby stands head and shoulders above her, literally and figuratively.  Dave is smart, principled and hard-working.  He has entered politics to further his burning desire to make a positive difference in real people’s lives.  There is no doubt in my mind that David Eby will be a better member of the Legislative Assembly than Ms. Clark has ever been, and, if given the chance, will make sound decisions that will be best for everyone,  whether they reside in the poorest or the wealthiest neighborhoods of this province.  A vote for David Eby will not be wasted and will never be regretted.

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On May 7, 2013, the Court of Appeal delivered oral reasons for judgment dismissing an appeal from a lower court ruling that the province’s Attorney General is not required to be a lawyer.  We had earlier appeared as counsel for the Appellant, Lesslie Askin, and argued that British Columbia law displaced any royal prerogative that may have enabled the Crown to appoint anyone it chooses to the position.  The Court of Appeal decided that the four provincial statutes we relied upon, the Constitution Act, the Attorney General Act, the Queen’s Counsel Act and the Legal Profession Act did not expressly state or necessarily imply that the Attorney General needs legal qualifications to perform her duties.

Lawyers hired by the Law Society of British Columbia took the lead role in opposing the appeal, supported by counsel for the Attorney General herself.  The transcript of the Court of Appeal’s decision should be available in about two weeks.  Ms. Askin has 60 days to file an application for leave to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Incidentally, the Honourable Shirley Bond is the fourth Attorney General in the history of British Columbia who has lacked legal education or training.  Since Confederation, the only federal lay Attorney General was the Honourable Joe Clark, who briefly served as Acting Attorney General in the 1980’s.  For over five hundred years, lawyers have served as Attorneys General in England.

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Election endorsements

April 30, 2013 in Opinion

I am of the view that it is in the public interest to have some lawyers sitting in the Legislature since it is, after all, the province’s law-making body.  I know each of the following candidates – David Eby, Jim Hanson, Leonard Krog and Andrew Wilkinson (listed in alphabetical order) – and can endorse each of them as worthy of receiving your vote.

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The Supreme Court of Canada heard arguments today in the case of Wood v. Schaeffer et al.  The case is summarized here and involves the police practice of having their notes vetted by legal counsel before releasing them to Ontario’s SIU, the body that investigates police conduct causing death or serious injury.  With any luck, Canada’s highest court will uphold the judgment of the Ontario Court of Appeal and put a stop to this practice.

The situation in British Columbia is similar, if not worse.  For example, when Jeffrey Berg was beaten and kicked to death by a Vancouver police officer in October of 2000, the homicide was investigated by his VPD colleagues.  The officer who killed Mr. Berg, along with the two other officers who were present when it happened, all visited the same lawyer after the incident, producing similar typed statements weeks later.  This deplorable practice has to stop if there is to be any measure of justice for the families of victims involved in these tragedies.

That is not to say there has been no improvement in this province.  We now have the Independent Investigation Office (IIO) so police-involved fatalities are no longer investigated by the police themselves.  The IIO has intervened in today’s appeal hearing, hoping that the Supreme Court’s decision establishes uniform national standards in this area.  We expect that judgment will be reserved and a decision rendered at a later date.

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