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.
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)
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.