I was out of the country when the Liberals won the federal election last October. I was keeping up with the news but trying to take a mental break from too much news — instead filling my head with intensive study of Spanish — so I almost missed it when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau named his new cabinet — cabinet that included Jody Wilson-Raybould, the country’s first aboriginal justice minister. At the time, I was in Oaxaca, Mexico — a city whose main square is filled daily with indigenous people marching and protesting against a variety of political, social, and human rights issues. It seemed somehow perfectly appropriate being in that milieu to be looking back at my own country and the possibilities for dramatic change that a new government and this new minister could bring about.
I will admit that, being based in Toronto, I did not know a lot about Wilson-Raybould before she was appointed to cabinet. But once I did, I tried to read everything I could about her to get a sense of not only what she would do with the roadmap provided to her by the PM but how her appointment would be taken by the legal profession, and how that might set a course for changes in the system. That interest led to the multi-faceted profile Ottawa-based reporter Elizabeth Thompson wrote for this month’s cover story.
Wilson-Raybould and the new government have already shown a change in course with the government’s litigation strategy, abandoning a number of cases in the courts right now including, most recently, the dropping of its appeal of the bail granted to Omar Khadr. First steps are being made into launching an inquiry into indigenous women who have gone missing or been murdered. Changes seem to be afoot within the Department of Justice as well to ensure legislation is more Charter proof before it comes to the House of Commons for votes and passage.
Former Conservative justice minister Peter MacKay and Wilson-Raybould were both Crown prosecutors in a previous life and had fathers who were in politics, but the similarities between the new and former minister probably end there. Wilson-Raybould’s childhood and experiences are completely different from those of any justice minister who has come before. I, for one, am very interested to see how she and Trudeau navigate through the next few years and the effects that will have on the legal profession, the justice system, and access to justice. So far, my sense from those I’ve talked to in the profession, is that Wilson-Raybould is creating a positive vibe.
From somewhat macro changes in the legal sphere to more micro changes in the pages of Canadian Lawyer, we welcome Aron Solomon and Jason Moyse as new columnists who will be focusing on legal technology and innovation. The two are the leaders of LegalX, the legal innovation hub at Toronto’s MaRS Discovery District. They are probably two of the biggest proponents of legal innovation and change through technology that you’ll find in Canada and even beyond our borders. I am excited to hear about and share their thoughts and ideas with our readers in the coming months.