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- Further open letter concerning the Law Society's requirement for a written Statement of Principles
- Open letter calling for suspension of the Law Society’s requirement for written SoP
- Letter to Joseph Groia in support of Motion for Conscientious Objection
- Motion to Allow Conscientious Objection & Remarks to Convocation, Dec. 1, 2017
- Quotas not the answer to our diversity issues
Feb18SunRemarks at CIJA Legal Conference February 18, 2018 Bruce Pardy, Professor of Law
Remarks at CIJA Legal Conference
Osgoode Hall, Toronto
February 13, 2018
The Tyranny of the Law Society’s
Statement of Principles
Professor of Law, Queen’s University
You may have seen the CBC television production of The Tudors, the story of King Henry VIII. In one episode, the King has condemned Thomas More to death for refusing to say that the King is the head of the Church of England. More is in his cell awaiting execution. A friend comes to him, to plead with him to say what it is the King wants to hear. More says he cannot do that, for he does not believe it to be true. In exasperation, the friend says, “You don’t have to believe it! You just have to say it.”
When your brain makes that kind of calculation, you know you are under the thumb of a tyrant. And Thomas More lost his head.
Here are some things that I do not believe. I do not believe in equality, diversity or inclusion, at least not as the Law Society defines those terms. I also do not believe or agree that I have an obligation to promote those things. There is no such positive obligation in the Ontario Human Rights Code or the Rules of Professional Conduct. The Law Society does not say I have to believe it, but it does insist that I have to say it. If I don’t, I won’t lose my head, but I may well lose my licence.
This is unjustified compelled speech. The Law Society “will require every licensee to adopt…a statement.” To require is to compel. A statement is speech.
The regulator has become an ideological bully. It is attempting to establish progressive values as a professional norm.
How can I not believe in equality? In fact, I do. I believe in equality of application. I believe that the same laws and standards should apply to everyone. I believe in that idea that lies at the heart of Western democracies and the rule of law that like cases should be decided alike. I believe that the only criterion for employment decisions should be merit.
That is not what the Law Society means by equality. It means substantive equality or equality of outcome. It tells us that “Equality does not mean treating people the same.” In fact, it means treating them differently to achieve prescribed results. The proposition at the core of the Law Society’s initiative is that the proportion of lawyers from each group must match the proportion of that group in the population, or there is racism. One of its main objectives is “to increase representation of racialized lawyers in the profession in proportion to the representation in the Ontario population, in all legal workplaces and at all levels of seniority.” If the proportion of some groups is too low, the proportion of other groups must be too high, since together they must make 100 per cent.
Do you appreciate the implication? The Law Society is saying, without saying so directly, that there are too many Jewish lawyers.
This is the proposition that you are required to endorse and acknowledge your obligation to promote. You don’t have to believe it, but you do have to say it.
I don’t have to tell you that this is how societies slide into darkness – by requiring fealty to official dogma, and by treating people not as individuals but by blaming or favouring them as members of groups.
Do not accept this. If you will not defend your own rights, how will you defend the rights of others? If this is not defeated, be very afraid.