What is StopSOP?
We are a group of lawyers and paralegals in Ontario who are concerned about the directive by the Law Society of Ontario (LSO) that each legal professional must abide by a Statement of Principles (SOP) that acknowledges an obligation to promote equality, diversity and inclusion generally, in our behaviour towards colleagues, employees, clients and the public.
We believe that the LSO has no business telling legal professionals what principles they must profess, value or promote, and that this is an encroachment on fundamental freedoms under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It does not matter whether you agree with the spirit or intent of the values which you are asked to promote; the fact that an arm of the state can dictate your beliefs to you, on pain of the loss of your livelihood, is deeply troubling.
We are putting forward a slate of candidates for the upcoming Bencher election (for governance of the Law Society) in April 2019. Each candidate undertakes to use best efforts to revoke the Statement of Principles upon election.
What can non-lawyers do to support the cause?
- Ask lawyers you know whether they are standing up to this incursion against fundamental freedoms in Ontario.
- Spread the word.
- If you can, donate to the cause (all contributions will go toward the StopSOP slate's campaign expenses).
Isn't the SOP just acknowledging reasonable duties that we are already expected to uphold, namely not to discriminate?
It is correct that we have a duty not to discriminate on prohibited grounds, but there is no positive legal duty to promote equality, diversity and inclusion. The LSO is effectively forcing lawyers to do something which it has no legal authority to require.
Given that 'equality' can mean different things, and that its pursuit is often ideologically driven, this is not merely about ridding the profession of any lingering racial discrimination. Since the Law Society has already voted to extend its Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) recommendations to "other equality-seeking groups" without even defining those groups, we might be forgiven for thinking that we are dealing more with ideology than with the solving of actual problems. Indeed, the LSO's own website defines equality as equality of outcome, NOT equal opportunity for all without discrimination.
What do you recommend that I do, as a concerned legal professional in Ontario?
- Let your colleagues know that you are pushing back by joining our list of supporters on the website.
- Make a donation to the campaign (click on the Donation link below).
- Most importantly, VOTE for the StopSOP slate (and only the slate) in the upcoming election. Voting begins in mid-April.