Quebec’s law society takes bold positions while others remain mum

Quebec’s law society has chutzpah.

Over the past month, it has taken a stance on Bill C-10, the Conservative government’s “tough on crime” omnibus bill, flatly stating that it “does not respond to any real need of the justice system” and pointing out that the crime rate in Canada is at its lowest level since 1973.

The Barreau du Québec took a firm position against the Harper government’s controversial decision to shelve the long-gun registry. It scolded the Conservative government for appointing a unilingual judge to the Supreme Court of Canada. And it is widely credited for forcing Quebec Premier Jean Charest’s hand to grant a public inquiry that will examine corruption in Quebec’s construction industry over a period of 15 years full powers of a public inquiry, including the power to subpoena witnesses and grant them immunity.

“Our interventions were motivated by our resolve to uphold confidence in our institutions,” wrote Claude Provencher, the Barreau’s executive director. “We want to ensure that the means put in place can truly respond to the objectives sought by society.”

Canada’s other law societies have remained silent. The Upper Law Society of Canada has over the past month issued press releases expressing its concern about the security of judges in Brazil and the human rights of lawyers in Iran. The Law Society of British Columbia celebrated excellence in legal journalism, the Law Society of Alberta honoured a lawyer for seventy years of service, the Law Society of Saskatchewan issued notices about the legal profession as did the Law Society of Manitoba. The Law Society of New Brunswick had nothing to say over the past few weeks, and the Law Society of Newfoundland and Labrador issued practice notes. The Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society highlighted Movember.

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