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

Chief Jamie Graham held a rare Saturday news conference yesterday to reveal yet more alleged misconduct within the ranks of the VPD. Graham calls the latest revelation, allegations of brutality on the Downtown Eastside and of lying to the court, an ‘isolated incident’.

This latest ‘isolated incident’ comes on the heels of the following:

  • Six VPD members are facing criminal charges after allegedly taking people to Stanley Park and beating them;
  • Videotape footage outside a cancelled Guns ‘N Roses concert showed VPD members attacking civilians;
  • Pivot Legal Society disclosed that 50 people had sworn affidavits detailing VPD brutality on the Downtown Eastside;
  • A public hearing has been ordered into the death of Jeff Berg while in the hands of the VPD;
  • An investigation has been ordered into the death of Frank Paul while in VPD custody;
  • Six VPD members faced a public hearing, and four admitted misconduct for trashing a house on Vancouver’s East side while executing a search warrant;
  • An external investigation continues on allegations that the VPD used excessive force when members of its crowd control unit beat people outside the Hyatt Hotel.

After this many ‘isolated incidents’, could there possibly be a systemic problem within the VPD?

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On October 27, 2003, BC lawyers will have a chance to cast an historic vote. For the first time ever, the Benchers of the Law Society have submitted a fee resolution to the membership which does not include a mandatory CBA fee component.

The Law Society’s initiative comes after five separate lawsuits challenged the validity of the mandatory payment scheme.

Those who take time out to attend the mid day meeting (typically less than 5% of the membership) will also be considering a resolution by CBA supporters that would have the effect of continuing the mandatory CBA fee.

Some additional facts on mandatory CBA fees:

  • New Brunswick is the only other province that has ever forced its lawyers to pay the CBA. Everywhere else in Canada, lawyers are free to choose whether or not to join or financially support the CBA.
  • Ontario’s Benchers recently rejected the concept of mandatory CBA fees.
  • The CBA describes itself as a “voluntary organization”.
  • The Law Society has collected CBA fees as part of the annual practice fee even though it and the CBA are separate and unrelated organizations.
  • The CBA seeks to collect about $4 million from BC lawyers for 2004.
  • Each year, the BC Branch of the CBA spends about $1 million on “activities”.
  • The CBA does not disclose how much it pays its Executive Director or the Executive Director of its BC Branch.
  • The BC Branch spent about $450,000 to create its website, www.bccba.org.

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Statements of Defence filed

September 26, 2003 in Opinion

The Province of British Columbia, the City of Vancouver and the Vancouver Police Board have now filed Statements of Defence in response to the Writ of Summons and Statement of Claim that were filed on June 18, 2003. As expected, these defendants deny all allegations of wrongdoing. The plaintiffs have alleged, on behalf of themselves and all others who have been strip-searched at the Vancouver Jail since December 6, 2001, that such searches are routinely done at the jail in violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

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A Coroner’s Inquest will be held during the week of January 12-16, 2004 into the circumstances surrounding the death of Thomas Evon Stevenson. Mr. Stevenson was shot and killed by two members of the Vancouver Police Department on December 7, 2002 as he sat inside a disabled vehicle on East Pender Street in Vancouver. Mr. Stevenson’s family welcomes this development and looks forward to obtaining some answers into how the incident occurred.

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Law Society AGM adjourned

September 22, 2003 in Opinion

The Law Society of British Columbia attempted to hold its Annual General Meeting on Friday, September 19, 2003, but the meeting was adjourned due to technical difficulties before the substantive business could be conducted. The agenda included a series of practice fee resolutions addressing the issue of whether B.C. lawyers should be compelled to pay fees to the Canadian Bar Association. The Law Society has now announced that the AGM will be continued on October 27, 2003.

The issue of mandatory CBA fee payment is contentious, and at least five B.C. lawyers have taken the Law Society to B.C. Supreme Court over the matter since 1982. The latest to do so, Richard Gibbs, Q.C., a past president of the Law Society, is awaiting a reserved judgment on the question. New Brunswick is currently the only jurisdiction in Canada that still compels lawyers to join the CBA.

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