A. Cameron Ward Barristers and Solicitors » Opinion
A. Cameron Ward
Vancouver BC
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Yesterday, Premier-elect Clark announced that Suzanne M. Anton, a non-practising lawyer who was admitted to the British Columbia Bar in 1980, would be the province’s new Attorney General and Minister of Justice.  This is a positive development.

In our previous post, we linked the Court of Appeal’s decision in Askin v. Law Society of British Columbia, 2013 BCCA 233, but the decision was subsequently removed from the Court of Appeal’s website.  The Court of Appeal dismissed Lesslie Askin’s appeal from a lower court judgment that rejected her argument that the Attorney General must be qualified as a lawyer.  If the decision reappears, we will provide a new link.

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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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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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