The Steering Committee of the Law Union of Ontario is urging all of its members to resign from the Canadian Bar Association (CBA) as a result of the CBA’s intervention in Chevron Corporation, et al. v. Yaiguaje, et al. We have written to CBA to this effect; the full text of this letter is at the end of this post.
In 2011, after nearly 20 years of battle, an Ecuadorian court ruled that Chevron had to compensate victims for the destruction it had caused. The Supreme Court of Ecuador ratified this decision and set damages at US $9.51 billion.
In December 2013, the Ontario Court of Appeal held that Ecuador’s indigenous communities were entitled to have their case against Chevron Canada heard in Ontario. Chevron is appealing this decision to the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC).
In September 2014, the CBA announced its decision to have Blake Cassels & Graydon LLP submit a brief to the SCC on issues of corporate identity. Blakes represents Chevron in other matters. This decision by the CBA both followed and propelled widespread criticism from CBA sections and CBA members, including the CBA’s Legislative and Law Reform Committee, which had recommended against proceeding with the intervention when it was first proposed. Critics pointed to a lack of consultation in the intervention decision-making process and a violation of the CBA’s stated public interest/access to justice mandate.
In calling for CBA member resignations, we follow the lead of advocates, lawyers, and law students who are protesting both the process and the substance of the CBA’s intervention. In particular, we would highlight the following statements:
Petition to CBA: Withdraw from the Supreme Court of Canada or Don’t File an Argument
We write to advise you that the Steering Committee of the Law Union of Ontario is urging all of its members to resign from the CBA as a result of your intervention in Chevron Corporation, et al. v. Yaiguaje, et al at the Supreme Court of Canada.
Your intervention flies in the face of any concern for the environment; your stated commitment to access to justice; your own members’ objections; and our profession’s ethic requiring us to act in the public interest, unless acting for a party to litigation.
The Law Union of Ontario will be holding its Annual General Meeting on Thursday October 11 from 6:30pm-8:30pm at Friends’ House, 60 Lowther Avenue, Toronto, Ontario. Click here for a map. The meeting room entrance is at the rear of the house on the west side. For wheelchair access, enter from the meeting parking lot on Bedford Road.
Come hear about the Law Union’s successes over the past year, and help chart the way forward. Please bring your ideas for new projects as well as ways to improve the Law Union. With social justice issues under siege, a strong Law Union is needed more than ever to fight oppression and to advocate for a more just, humane, and equal world.
Good conversation and refreshments to follow; agenda to be circulated shortly.
Join the Steering Committee!
We will also be forming new Steering Committee to guide us in the year to come. We strongly encourage people with diverse experiences, backgrounds and perspectives to lend their talents to the Steering Committee and help make the Law Union as inclusive, representative and effective as possible. Those interested in putting their names forward to become Steering Committee members should do so at the Annual Meeting. If there are more than 12 nominations, there will be an election in accordance with our constitution, though in years past this has not been required.
During the G20 Summit in Toronto on June 26 and 27, 2010, police trampled on the legal rights and civil liberties of thousands of protestors, legal observers, media personnel, bystanders, and other members of the public.
If you want to hold the police accountable for their wrongful actions and get compensation and justice for any wrong done to you, you may have to take action immediately. The deadline for taking legal action with respect to many of the claims arising from the G20 Summit will be June 26 or June 27, 2012. If you miss the deadline, you may lose your legal right to sue.
Deadlines for filing a police complaint or a human rights application have already expired, but you can still sue the police. You can sue the police in either the Small Claims Court (if you are seeking monetary compensation up to $25,000), or in the Superior Court if you want to claim a greater amount or ask the Court to do something other than order payment of money.
You should get advice from a lawyer immediately if you are considering taking legal action and want to make sure that you don’t miss the deadlines. Some lawyers who will provide a free one-half hour consultation about G20 legal claims are listed on pages 87-88 of the Law Union of Ontario’s Post-G20 Action Guide (www.lawunion.ca/g20guide).
The Law Union of Ontario (“The Law Union”) is dismayed by recent attacks by the Conservative Government’s Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, aimed at the grassroots migrant rights group No One Is Illegal.<
No One Is Illegal has a proven track record of working alongside migrant communities and individuals on issues relating to human rights and broader social justice. From working to ensure undocumented people living in Canada have access to women's shelters, food banks, and health care, to organizing campaigns against discriminatory immigration laws and continued resource theft from Indigenous communities and the agenda of increased profits on the backs of people's welfare as exhibited by the G8-G20 governments, No One Is Illegal is an important and crucial voice of dissent.
Coming at a time when the Tory government seeks to further erode the human rights of immigrants and refugees through amendments contained in Bill C-31, dubbed the "Refugee Exclusion Bill" by a growing number of critics, the government's attempt to deflect attention from its own record is astonishing.
Co-ordinated national actions on April 4, 2012, by No One Is Illegal and their supporters helped to shine the light on the worrisome provisions of C-31, which creates a discriminatory two-tier system of refugee protection based on nationality, mandates incarceration for many asylum seekers, and revokes permanent residency from many people already granted refugee status.
Over the last few years, Conservative Minister Jason Kenney and other Harper Conservatives have targeted No One Is Illegal repeatedly, in press statements, in twitter posts and in statements in Parliament. The most recent targeting of NDP MP Don Davies for attending an anti-racism protest coordinated by No One Is Illegal – Vancouver is part of this long history of mud-slinging.
More then anything else, these attacks on No One Is Illegal are aimed at diverting attention from the government's own policies - policies calculated to keep newcomers in precarious, vulnerable, and oppressive workplaces.
This is a tired old approach and must be challenged. Calling grassroots activists “hard-line extremists” as Mr Kenney does is dangerous. It suggests a government that wishes to create a chill on legitimate dissent. It tacitly encourages police authorities to target political organizers as we have seen take place during the G8/G20 Summits and in Indigenous communities across the country.
The Law Union stands in total agreement with the criticisms made by No One Is Illegal with respect to this government’s immigration policies, and is proud to work together with No One Is Illegal on a number of campaigns and issues. Most recently No One Is Illegal - Toronto and The Law Union collaborated to produce a guide for newcomers informing of their rights under Canadian law, which is now being published in many languages.
The Law Union calls upon the Minister and the government to refrain from attacking non-profit organizations with whom it does not agree as "un-Canadian" and focus instead on protecting and welcoming newcomers to this country.
The Law Union, founded in 1974, is a coalition of over 200 progressive lawyers, law students and legal workers. The Law Union provides for an alternative bar in Ontario which seeks to counter the traditional protections afforded by the legal system to social, political and economic privilege. The Law Union is run by an annually elected steering committee. The Law Union has several collectives and working groups and has active chapters at many law schools.