Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

1st Session, 38th Parliament,
Volume 142, Issue 50

Thursday, April 14, 2005
The Honourable Daniel Hays, Speaker

Law Day

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, I rise today to draw your attention to Law Day across Canada. Marking the anniversary of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, this year Law Day celebrates the twentieth anniversary of the equality rights in section 15 of the Charter. The theme, Access to Justice, is a theme I strongly endorse, a theme that reflects the right of every Canadian to have equal access to information about the laws and the legal institutions of Canada.

Public legal information and education activities involving hundreds of lawyers have been organized across Canada by the Canadian Bar Association, the CBA. Activities include courthouse tours, newspaper supplements, poster contests, phone-a-lawyer, career panels and fun runs to raise money for charities. The aim is to make the law more accessible to all Canadians and to expand their knowledge of their rights within Canada’s justice system.

We can all be proud of the work that the Canadian Bar Association does for the citizens of Canada. The activities include law reform, legal aid, access to justice and international development.

Nobody tackles national law reform like the Canadian Bar Association. The Canadian Bar Association makes more than 60 submissions to and appearances before the federal government each year, dealing with everything from competition law to custody and access to anti-marijuana laws.

The Canadian Bar Association helped change the government’s proposed money-laundering legislation to protect lawyer-client privilege.

The Canadian Bar Association has been championing legal aid reform for many years, demanding that federal and provincial governments fund and maintain a healthy legal aid system.

No aspect of the Canadian bar’s work does more for Canada’s image abroad, particularly in the field of human rights, than the activities of the International Development Committee, the IDC. The International Development Committee educates jurists, strengthens the rule of law and improves access to justice in countries where these services are needed most. The IDC’s mission is to alleviate poverty and injustice through the rule of law. The programs are in countries such as South Africa, Bangladesh, the Caribbean and China.

Probably the Canadian Bar Association’s greatest accomplishment has been in South Africa, a nation that has relied on Canada’s help to remake itself. Our Charter of Rights and Freedoms was the model for their new constitution.

Partnering with South Africa-based Legal Resources Centre, the IDC has helped support numerous successful legal challenges by the Law Resources Centre. One such victory earned HIV-positive, pregnant women the right to receive medicine the government was refusing to distribute.

In China, thanks to the Canadian Bar Association, the Chinese defence lawyers presented Chinese National Law Day on December 18, 2004. The activity helped 50,000 Chinese citizens.

The Canadian Bar Association provides a unique service for Canadians through its public interest advocacy, public education programs such as Law Day, and its international outreach.

I offer my encouragement and support to the Canadian Bar Association, as well as to the many legal groups here in Ottawa and across Canada in their endeavours on Law Day. Please join me in extending best wishes to all involved for a successful Law Day in 2005.