A report from the Law Society of Ontario’s Human Rights Monitoring Group stoked debate among some prominent benchers this week regarding the law society’s role in politics.
Bencher Rocco Galati, who raised the issue, tells Legal Feeds that he doesn’t have a problem sending letters about lawyers who are persecuted or face threats abroad — even if they’re 800 kilometres away. But, he says, weight should also be given to domestic issues such as the lack of diversity in the Canadian judiciary, and the law society should avoid overstepping into political issues in other democratic countries.
At Thursday’s Convocation, the law society’s elected members voted on a submission from a subcommittee focused on human rights. The report, “Report to Convocation September 27, 2018: Equity and Indigenous Affairs Committee,” contained three proposed letters and public statements to be sent from the LSO to foreign lawyers’ associations and other officials. The first letter dealt with the arrest, sentencing and charges against lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh in Iran; the second dealt with the detention of lawyer Haytham Mohamadeen in Egypt; and the third addressed the forced retirement of 26 Polish Supreme Court justices, including Chief Justice Malgorzata Gersdorf.