A Notice of Motion was moved by Bencher John Fagan at the Law Society of Ontario. This Motion was seconded by Bencher Jared Brown.
Why this Motion is important is because the Mover is asking for Convocation to censure a member of the Equity Advisory Group over a tweet. The OPA is a part of this group.
The whole situation arose of out a Member attending a Healing Circle with Benchers from the Law Society of Ontario. The Indigenous Elder who was in charge of the Healing Circle, chooses who was allowed to speak. None of the Benchers were chosen to speak. A Bencher allegedly made a racist comment to the Member after the Healing Circle.
The Member posted their experience on Twitter. The Bencher in question wrote a response about how their comments were misconstrued.
The issue that the OPA has with this is that Convocation is being used to silence someone instead of having an investigation being conducted. The OPA does acknowledge that discrimination happens in both our profession and personal lives. This is what concerns the OPA. This why the OPA is proud to support the Equity Advisory Group. This is why the OPA is proud to have a diverse membership.
If someone alleges that someone in a position of authority has acted discriminatory, there should be an investigation about it. As legal professionals, we value knowing the facts before making a decision. In this situation, a decision is being made before the facts are known. This troubling as it can be viewed that Convocation can be used to silence people. Our profession was born out of giving people a voice in their legal matters.
There is another issue with this motion being presented yesterday (February 25, 2020) with it to be discussed on February 27, 2020. The motion is being rushed through in order to potentially silence someone from the Equity Advisory Group.
You can see the full motion here.
There is another motion by moved by Bencher John Fagan and being seconded by Bencher John Brown. That motion can be seen in the above link.
The second motion is also concerning as it implies that the Equity Advisory Group and Equity & Indigenous Affairs Committee shall allow any Bencher to attend and speak to anything, the Equity & Indigenous Affairs Committee should not have any unelected people attend and speak to any issue, and the Equity Advisory Group should be disbanded.
This is wrong. This silences voices. Voices that are needed to be heard.
You can view the Equity Advisory Group’s response here.
Lobby your Benchers about this. We elect the Benchers, they are accountable to us.