In the background materials posted on the Law Society website for Convocation in December of 2017, a brief of supportive letters was included. None of the many letters written by lawyers and legal associations which expressed concern about the Statement of Principles, or the EDI initiative generally, were included.
All submitted content reflects the opinions of the writer only, and not necessarily those of the StopSOP team.
Please include your full name and location of practice, and provide a Word version of your letter, if possible.
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Jul9MonJuly 9, 2018 Stephen R. Morrison LL.B., C. Arb, C. Med, FCIArbBased on the feedback that I have received from other licensees, this measure is being received as an outrage or, even worse, as a bad joke. I have yet to speak directly with another licensee who supports it. While many will probably check the right box on their annual return, merely to avoid the potential repercussions of not doing so, this coerced compliance should not be confused with assent. Respect for our governing body is being eroded, and I anticipate that this will be manifested at the next election of Benchers. Moreover, there will undoubtedly be legal challenges to the provision, and we gain little by litigation which pits our membership against its leaders. And, most significantly, I fear that the negative reaction to this measure will undermine support for the remainder of the important equality, diversity, and inclusion initiatives. I urge Convocation to reconsider.
Mar30FriMarch 30, 2018 Alec S. Bildy, LL.B., LL.M. (Cambridge)The requirement is (i) quite clearly contrary to my rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, (ii) in my opinion, ultra vires the powers of the Law Society, (iii) contrary to, and indeed ignorant of, the role and function of a lawyer in a liberal democracy, (iv) the result of political ideology, rather than any evidence-based process, and (v) deeply offensive to me personally in terms of its clear implication that I and my profession and society are racist.
Mar23FriOriginally dated November 8, 2017 March 23, 2018 Michael A. MenearOf all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its members may be the most oppressive. To be cured against one’s will and cured of ‘states’ [biases, prejudices] which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason, or those who never will.
C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock: Essays on Theology (abridged)
I do not agree with, nor can I support, the EDI (Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion) Initiative of the Law Society of Ontario (LSO). Let me explain my reasons.
Mar22ThuMarch 22, 2018 Chris DobsonInvoluntary statements are immoral. As they are lacking in moral authority, even when the intention is to force a perceived good, one cannot be required by law to make them. I object to the inclusion of the SOP in the Annual Report and will not acknowledge them even under threat of sanction. I do not acknowledge the claims of the Final Report as valid. Convocation lacks the authority to sanction licencees who have committed no offence other than to refuse to comply with a totalitarian requirement by forcing a declaration that they may not agree with or to falsely declare something which the licencee does not believe to be true. It offends my freedom of conscience, expression and religion.
Mar21WedMarch 21, 2018I comply with all applicable human rights legislation, but I have no legal obligation to "promote" any particular policy, practice or philosophy. I believe it is beyond the Law Society's legal mandate to require me to sign such a statement. I also believe that such forced expression is unconstitutional, as a violation of my right to freedom of expression.
Mar5MonMarch 5, 2018 Joseph StarkmanThe Law Society has no right or authority to require the adoption of a prescribed set of principles. Principles are, by definition, beliefs. Beliefs cannot be compelled upon a person's conscience, either morally, legally or practically. Historically, only totalitarians have pretended otherwise. Requiring this declaration and the preparation of a statement of principles it contemplates violates my freedom of conscience, belief, thought, opinion and religion. In addition, it violates my freedom of expression insofar as it requires me to affirmatively state my allegiance to the favoured causes. Furthermore, requiring a "correct" opinion or belief can never be justified in a free society; on the contrary, it is anathema to it. I object to this requirement as, among other things, unconstitutional and otherwise beyond the power of the Law Society to prescribe, as well as being vague and ill-defined.
As Justice Robert Jackson stated in striking down, in time of an existential war, a compelled declaration far more defensible under the circumstances than this one:
"[N]o official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion, or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein."
Mar4SunMarch 4, 2018 Murray KlippensteinI am writing to you as Benchers to express my profoundest concerns about the “Statement of Principles” decision of the Benchers of December 2, 2016 regarding Recommendation 3(1) of the Working Group, dealing with “Diversity and Inclusion”. More than that, I have reviewed in great detail the Law Society’s process and decision on the issue, including the transcript of the Law Society’s proceedings of December 2, and it seems to me based on the way things went that the Law Society’s position is now firm and fixed and straightforward – “sign the paper”! I am therefore advising you, to be clear, that I will not “sign the paper”, not now, not ever. You can activate your “compliance” measures against me. You can initiate disbarment proceedings against me if you want. Whatever. I will not sign. Let the chips fall where they may.
Feb23FriFebruary 23, 2018“I, and my firm, abide by and indeed exceed the requirements of the laws of Ontario and Canada, and the Rules of Professional Conduct of the LSUC with respect to diversity, equality and inclusion. My personal views and practice on these issues are my own, based on my upbringing and my personal moral code, and they are obvious to anyone who knows or works with me. They are only incidentally related to the fact that I am a lawyer. I reject the idea that the LSUC, or anyone can require me to sign or affirm a statement of my principles, much less a 'Statement of Principles.'”
Feb21WedFebruary 21, 2018Correspondence between Hon. Doug Lewis, Counsel, and Paul Schabas, Treasurer of the Law Society, regarding the lack of due process and proper procedure.