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Mid-winter 2015

Highlights from February’s meeting of CBA Council

people listening to a discussion

Ottawa was near the end of its coldest February on record when members gathered for the 2015 Mid-Winter Meeting, which featured a Council meeting, Board meeting, committee meetings and ended with a gathering of Executive Directors. In between all those meetings there was a reception organized by CBA International Initiatives, which marked its 25th anniversary by celebrating Chinese New Year and Vietnamese Tet with a local troupe performing a dragon dance. There was also a Council dinner followed by a curling bonspiel on Friday, and a President’s dinner followed by dancing with a live band on Saturday.


Council passed 10 resolutions — five were essentially housekeeping measures; the others dealt with everything from protocols for the naming of courthouses to urging the CBA to encourage government to amend the State Immunity Act to add an exception for acts of torture and genocide. See nationalmagazine .ca for coverage.

ABS Panel

Past-president Fred Headon chaired a panel discussion about the pros and cons of Alternative Business Structures, something that the CBA Legal Futures Initiative report has recommended adopting. While most on the panel welcomed the recommendation, and the opportunity to create a made-in-Canada ABS system, Council also heard warnings of dire consequences that might follow a decision to liberalize the regulatory structure. See for coverage.

Equal Justice

Access to Justice committee members Gillian Marriott and Michèle Moreau, along with former member Trish Hebert, provided an update on that committee’s Equal Justice initiatives since the publication of its report in 2013. Moreau encouraged Council members to do their bit for increasing access to justice in Canada. See for her 10 Tips for Action.


The CBA handed out nine awards to members from across the country over the course of Mid-Winter. See for a complete list of winners. Video of interviews with some of the award winners can also be found on national

Is it time to legalize marijuana? 

In a federal election year where the legalization of marijuana is expected to be a hot topic, National Magazine hosted a panel discussion of the issues that will have to be addressed. Panelists included  professionals from the fields of public health, medicine, public policy and the law. See for blogs and webcast of the panel. 


The very model of an honorary colonel 

CBA CEO John Hoyles is now Col. Hoyles, having been welcomed to the position of Honorary Colonel of the Legal Branch of the Department of National Defence on Feb. 6.

“It is a great honour for me to be doing this, and I absolutely thrilled by it,” said Hoyles in an interview with National Magazine. “I think it’s a compliment, not so much to me, but to the CBA.”

The position carries a particular honour because of his family’s rich history in both the military and the law.

His position has a three-year term, which can be renewed. The honorary rank comes with actual responsibilities, says Hoyles, who will meet with lawyers in the Judge Advocate General’s office in Ottawa, Halifax and Victoria to talk about the importance of their roles; and also helping to educate and raise awareness of lawyers in military towns about the differences between military and civilian law.

The involvement of the Judge Advocate General’s office in the CBA has given members a whole new perspective on military law, he says.

“I think there’s something very interesting when you have people that are in uniform attending the Canadian Legal Conference. They very much wanted … the military lawyers to be more engaged in the profession, but the legal profession (also) needs to better understand what military lawyers do.”

Hoyles was able to choose which branch of the military he wanted to represent. He chose the army because of his grandfather, a member of the Black Watch who was killed on the battlefield in Amiens, France in 1918, just before the end of the First World War.