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Three resolutions adopted at the 2019 AGM

The resolutions relate to a definition of diversity, funds for family law research and the disclosure of non-conviction records.

Members vote on a resolution

Three resolutions were up for debate at the 2019 AGM in Ottawa yesterday. All have been passed as official CBA policy.

The first is a bylaw amendment, which commits the CBA to building and cultivating “a more powerful, inclusive, diverse and engaged professional community across Canada.”  At issue was the inclusion of the following definition of diversity:

“Diversity” means the inclusion members from a variety of backgrounds, with particular attention to representation in the Association of members from equality-seeking groups, including but not limited to women, LGBTI2S (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and two-spirit) communities, Indigenous peoples, racialized and ethno-cultural groups, and persons with disabilities. Diversity is to be interpreted consistent with the evolving nature of equality issues.

The CBA’s Equality Subcommittee came up with the definition following consultations with the Women Lawyers Forum, the Young Lawyers Section, the Aboriginal Law Section, the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Community Section, the Chairs of Branch Equality Committees, and the CCCA Diversity Committee.

The second resolution is a response to the recent closing of the Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family (CRILF) for lack of funding.  The CRILF had been a national leader in multidisciplinary research on law, the family and children since 1987.  For three decades it promoted evidence-based research, informing courts, policy-makers, legal professionals and the public and advising on the development of law, policy, processes and practices. The CBA is urging federal, provincial and territorial governments to allocate sufficient resources to family law research, including funding for CRILF or other bodies with a similar mission to help families experiencing relationship breakdown and give them better access to justice.

The third resolution addresses the disclosure of non-conviction records. Indeed, law enforcement agencies in Canada maintain databases containing records of investigations, criminal charges, apprehensions under mental health laws, drug overdoses and other records of processes that don’t always result in a criminal conviction. The CBA takes the view that the release of this information can negatively affect the ability of Canadians, particularly those from marginalized communities who interact with the police at a disproportionate rate, to secure employment opportunities. It is urging federal, provincial and territorial governments to adopt or amend legislation and policies limiting disclosure of non-conviction information in law enforcement databases, and providing a mechanism for individuals to review and address errors or immaterial information in those databases.