The Law Union of Ontario expresses its condemnation of the recent actions of the Law Society of Ontario in punishing over 100 prospective lawyers, most of whom are apparently visible minorities, without any due process and despite the absence of evidence of intentional wrongdoing. This relates to the bar exams administered in November 2021 which were compromised due to a Law Society security breach. The Divisional Court recently invalidated the punitive actions of the Law Society, but the debacle should not have gone that far in the first instance.
As stated in the Law Union’s letter: “The recent decision of the Divisional Court in Mirza et al. v. Law Society of Ontario, 2023 ONSC 6727 (CanLII), <https://canlii.ca/t/k1dzw>exposed some deeply troubling conduct by the Law Society of Ontario. As the regulator of the legal profession, the Law Society ought to be a paragon of justice and fairness. Instead, it railroaded a whole class of potential future lawyers, denied them due process, harshly punished them in the absence of evidence of wrongdoing, tarnished their reputations, and wreaked emotional and financial havoc on them and their families. The Law Union of Ontario urges the Law Society to embrace the Divisional Court decision as an important teaching moment, ask itself some hard questions about what kind of culture within the organization could allow such a debacle to unfold the way it did, and make every effort to remedy the damage it has caused.”
Link to full letter
The Law Union of Ontario condemns the recent attack by Hamas against innocent Israelis, the ongoing attacks by Israel against innocent Gazans, and all expressions of hate including anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and anti-Arab racism, all of which have amplified in the wake of these attacks.
The Law Union supports the rights of all people to freely speak out against human rights abuses and atrocities, and to call out Canada for its foreign policy positions. However, it appears that some prominent voices equate any criticism of Israel’s military policies as constituting anti-Semitism. This is a false equivalency. It would be similarly unfair to label those who have condemned the heinous actions of Hamas as being Islamophobic or anti-Arab.
Regrettably, we have heard of instances where hierarchical power structures have worked to oppress people speaking out against atrocities in Gaza, dismissing such discourse as being anti-Semitic and thereby stifling respectful public discussion on this important issue.
It has been reported (see Toronto Star article) that at least one law school and at least one prominent law firm have recently taken actions to oppress certain speech regarding the ongoing conflict. The LUO, as well as we believe the public at large, expects lawyers and law firms to be the final wall of resistance to attacks on freedom of expression. We are sadly disappointed by the actions of our colleagues in abandoning their responsibility in this regard.
For this reason, the Law Union has signed onto the Open Letter to Legal Community on Pro-Palestine Speech https://forms.gle/nLPi5v15juYWG7p28
The Law Union of Ontario will be hosting our annual AGM on Saturday, March 4th, 2023. This is a great opportunity to get involved with the Law Union, and to help support progressive legal work in Toronto. Food and coffee will be provided. This year we’re excited to be joined by Diana Chan McNally, a Toronto-based community worker, housing advocate, and educator who will discuss the state of housing and homelessness in Toronto.
Location: 60 Lowther St, Toronto, ON (Friend’s House)
We’re using a normal Zoom meeting for this event rather than a live stream, as members may need to vote on motions. Please use the link below to join the meeting on Saturday.
Topic: Law Union of Ontario – Annual General Meeting
Time: Mar 4, 2023 09:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
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Meeting ID: 838 5212 6651
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Meeting ID: 838 5212 6651