Their divisive campaign has only brought chaos and division to the LSO
This month’s bencher election will test the high standards of competence and professionalism that underline the Ontario Law Society’s most basic duty – to protect the public interest and advance the cause of justice.
In 2019, with voter turnout under 30 percent, 22 StopSOP benchers were elected, bringing chaos and poisonous politics rarely seen at Osgoode Hall.
I am not a fan of slates of candidates, but this election presents a choice between two visions – FullStop’s continuation of the StopSOP ideology or the Good Governance Coalition, which promises to vote independently and bring decorum and respect back to convocation.
This is why I am putting aside my dislike of slates and supporting the Good Governance Coalition.
The FullStop candidates are running on an intellectually vacuous agenda centred around the idea that the LSO is engaged in “social engineering.” One of their core election promises is to “Stop Woke,” but they haven’t even defined what they mean by “woke.”
I suspect that they can’t.
“Woke” was a positive term used in Black communities for years before it gained social prominence. Its meaning has a long history but generally reflected a consciousness of historical and systemic realities faced by racialized people and an awareness of things larger than an individual’s own experiences.
But now “woke” has been co-opted and used as a dog whistle. It is a slur when used by right-wing rage-baiters like Bethany Mandel, grievance grifters like Tucker Carlson, and now the FullStop slate.
So, what does FullStop consider to be “woke social engineering?” Their progenitor’s record shows the dysfunction they will bring to the LSO.
Each year the StopSOP benchers brought arbitrary motions to cut the LSO funding without any specifics on how their budget cuts could be achieved. Although these motions were not adopted, they show that being anti-woke doesn’t include fiscal responsibility.
Most recently, the Federation of Ontario Law Associations raised the alarm about StopSOP’s attempts to cut law library funding.
Perhaps even more concerning is that the FOLA highlighted “concerning statements” disseminated by the FullStop on the issue, which the FOLA characterized as “misleading” and “misrepresentations.”
But it is hard to trust FullStop on financial management issues after StopSOP bencher Sam Goldstein breached the Bencher Code of Conduct by making untrue statements about the LSO’s finances and budgetary process. The StopSOP response was not to correct the record but to move a motion to repeal the Code of Conduct.
FullStop’s hostility to any topic that remotely touches on equity and inclusion is even more concerning.
StopSOP bencher Jared Brown, who is seeking re-election, said that the LSO should not be mandating continued professional development because it was a means to “introduce mandatory political indoctrination, mandatory far-left critical theories, and race Marxism under the guise of cultural competency.”
StopSOP benchers have continuously denied the existence of systemic discrimination while hyperbolically comparing measures to address discrimination to Pol Pot “marching all the Phnom Penh out into the rice fields and the killing fields.”
The StopSOP benchers opposed a motion to hire a professional name reader for the call-to-the-bar ceremonies, with Murray Klippenstein, who is running for re-election, calling the correct pronunciation of a name “an ideology of never-ending, round the clock, turbo-charged identity politics […] or as I see it, wacky wokeism.”
Cecil Lyon, also running for re-election, added, “Expectations that names should be pronounced correctly are wholly unrealistic [...]. Life is messy, the sooner you learn that, the better off you’ll be.”
The StopSOP benchers even opposed a minimum wage for articling students because “articling students don’t earn a profit.”
This is what FullStop means by “Stop Woke” – financial mismanagement, misleading rhetoric, violations of the codes of conduct, mispronouncing names, free labour, and denying that discrimination even exists.
The FullStop slate says that they want to depoliticize the LSO when they are the ones bringing politics to the table.
Seeking to correctly pronounce the names of new calls on one of the most important days of their life is not political – but equating basic respect and decorum to genocide is politics of the worst kind.
Some might think it unfair to paint all the FullStop candidates with the same brush, but for all their talk of unencumbered free speech, none of them spoke up against their running mates’ problematic statements or behaviour.
FullStop candidate Stéphane Sérafin has tweeted his concerns that “the cultural left's fixation” on drag story hours is “weird” and “predatory,” called a Canadian Army’s tweet reaffirming their commitment to an inclusive working environment a “bleak timeline,” and defended fellow candidate Jean-Jacques Desgranges’ statement that drag story time’s primary purpose is the sexual grooming of children.
FullStop candidate Michael Lesage’s condemnation of Desgranges’ promotion of antisemitic and Nazi memes about Ukraine was almost non-existent.
There is a reason that the FullStop slate has not received any endorsements from Ontario law associations, professional organizations, or federations — a fact Lesage is proud of.
The only way to ensure the LSO is properly governed is to ensure that none of the FullStop candidates are elected.
And that means showing up and voting for good governance.