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Visions of leaders past and future

  • Trials & Tribulations
Written by Posted Date: June 13th, 2011
On May 25, I was delighted to have the opportunity to attend a special session of Convocation of the Law Society of Upper Canada during which it granted the Law Society Medal to some of the profession’s inspired leaders, including Ron Slaght, Alfred Mamo, and Cynthia Petersen. In addition to the LSM, two other awards were presented: the Lincoln Alexander Award and the Laura Legge Award.
The Laura Legge Award is a relatively new addition to the honorifics bestowed by the LSUC on its brightest and best leaders. It was created in 2007 for the purpose of recognizing women lawyers from Ontario who have exemplified leadership within the profession. It commemorates Legge’s exemplary (60-plus-year) career, mentorship of other lawyers, her long-standing service to the law society (as its first female bencher and first female treasurer), and for her community service. This year’s recipient of the award was my colleague and longtime friend, Fay Brunning of Ottawa.
I can think of no one more deserving of this award, and I am proud and honoured to be counted among her friends and enthusiasts. The following is an edited version of Brunning’s acceptance speech, which she kindly agreed to share with a wider audience, at my request:
[note: let’s put this all in italics or a different colour or something when it’s posted on the web]
I am very grateful and inspired to receive this award, which honours Laura Legge, a woman who provided tremendous leadership to our profession for many decades. As this award in her name demonstrates, her legacy will continue to be an inspiration to the women who have followed her. I feel bashful to be in the midst of the honourees and of our benchers tonight, and am a bit puzzled as to why I was chosen for this recognition. There are many accomplished women lawyers in this province. Laurie Pawlitza advised me that the LSUC wanted to recognize a woman who is regarded as a leader, who is [in] the middle of her career, doing many things, and providing mentoring and inspiration to those around her. So, on that premise, I would particularly like to thank the LSUC for this recognition, on behalf of all the middle-aged women lawyers, who are self-employed in private practice, serving the public, and raising our families.
I feel privileged to be a lawyer. To me, it is an honour to have and to be able to apply the skills I have learned to serve the public, and to be able to use the law to contribute to the proper functioning of our democracy.
Laura Legge was a genuine leader of our profession throughout her career, and she served as an excellent role model for women in the practice of law today. But what is leadership? Do women provide different leadership?
Many people I have worked for are great leaders, who have generously mentored me and shared their wisdom: in Saskatchewan, Queen’s law, Ottawa legal community, Advocates’ Society, Scott & Aylen, Borden Ladner Gervais, and now Sack Goldblatt Mitchell. I have been very fortunate to have had access to inspiring leaders.
Twenty-five years ago, I started in the private practice of law as a woman litigator. In Ottawa, there were very few women lawyers. I saw successful men in law, and observed their tried and true paths to success, but I could not simply replicate what men do, nor did I want to. I wanted some of my own female values and dreams and characteristics to be part of what I was becoming and part of what I believed the profession could become.
I have found inspiration in the five Canadian women from the prairies, who in 1929 went all the way to England to have the highest court in the British Empire declare something that now appears obvious: “Women are persons.” That case gave birth to human rights entitlements for the entire Commonwealth legal system. Those five Canadian women, now historically known as the Famous Five, used the law to effect social reform. They took a specific legal issue through the courts because the political arm of our democracy did not have the wisdom or will to evolve. It was one legal issue, but its long-term impact on where we are as a nation is interesting to consider.
These five women leaders, if you look at what they did individually, brought in reforms such as the Dowry Act, Minimum Wage Act for Women, child protection legislation, and started organizations such as the Victorian Order of Nurses, YWCA. These were significant changes which all helped to reshape our society in one generation and to improve life for the disadvantaged. Not everything they did in their time deserves praise, but not one of them became a senator as a result of the Persons case, so personal gain was not the outcome of their individual or collective efforts.
Nellie McClung, one of the Famous Five, once said: “No nation rises higher than its women.” If we look around Canada and the world today, almost 100 years later, that still holds true, and there is still a lot to be done. Louise McKinney, another of the Five said: “What after all, is the purpose of a woman’s life? The purpose is the same as the purpose of a man’s life: that she make the best possible contribution to the generation in which she is living.” These are still inspiring words to live by.
Along the way, I have discovered that women generally are more comfortable to contribute and lead in ways that differ from men. Men and women are different and have different strengths. Nothing is wrong with that. Working together, in our firms and in our legal community, contributing the best way we can as men and women, with our respective different styles of leadership, we can collectively accomplish more for our system of justice.
What is leadership? I believe that in Canada, leadership is a gift of trust from one to another, earned over time. Leaders are trusted by those they represent to lead on their behalf on issues that are within their sphere of influence. If a person displays passion, interest, energy, aptitude, and integrity around an issue or within a firm or organization, the gift of leadership is given.
I observe that many women are more comfortable with the “inside out” form of leadership rather than “top down.” From within our firms, from within our communities, from within our profession, women work hard to support others and ideas, and thereby earn their trust. Women are often worker bees and the first ones to raise their hands to volunteer for the “soft” work that it takes to bring things to fruition. The health and well-being of our workplaces, legal communities, firms, and profession attract our natural instincts.
However, it has also been my experience that women do not generally have the same desire or confidence as men to step into the political arena where the democratic power is at play. We now know that firms, communities, organizations, and our legal system function better when both men and women are working together in ways that they can contribute their best. We need to find ways to properly value those different forms of contributions within our legal profession. We need to ensure that women and men of substance and integrity who are ready to lead are given the support they need to take that step. I am proud to be part of a firm that does provide those opportunities and support and I encourage every other law firm to do the same.
In closing, I would like to again thank Tom Conway and the Ottawa legal community, as well as the LSUC and its current Treasurer, Laurie Pawlitza. I am indebted to all of you for this recognition.
b_150_0_16777215_00___images_stories_01-CANADIANLawyer_Columnists_margaret-waddell.jpgOn May 25, I was delighted to have the opportunity to attend a special session of Convocation of the Law Society of Upper Canada during which it granted the Law Society Medal to some of the profession’s inspired leaders, including Ron Slaght, Alfred Mamo, and Cynthia Petersen. In addition to the LSM, two other awards were presented: the Lincoln Alexander Award and the Laura Legge Award.

Women, rape, and peace

  • Human Rights . . . Here & There
Written by Posted Date: June 13th, 2011
In a recent Al Jazeera report, doctors working in a hospital spoke of how they found Viagra and condoms in the pockets of dead Libyan army soldiers. Putting this together with the reports of rape of women adds important details to the picture of an army not only armed with the hardware of war such as guns, rifles, tanks, and bombs but also the chemical and protective gear to carry out yet another way to attack — rape.
Rape not only can damage the physical health of the victim due to the fierce insertion of foreign objects as well as the transmission of diseases including HIV/AIDS. It is also a form of terror that has serious mental- health repercussions especially if counselling is not available. While the vast majority of rape victims in conflict situations are women; men, boys, and girls have also been targets of sexual violence.
In the face of such brutal aggression, when we arrive as witnesses after the fact, what can the law say? Does it have a role to play in ameliorating the situation? Does it have the right to propose actions or sanctions? Or, is any legal reaction just an invention to soothe our own emotional trauma?
International humanitarian law is the branch of public international law that sets out the minimum legal obligations in times of war. It operates only in cases of international armed conflict — that is when there is a conflict between two states, or in non-international armed conflicts when a state and a non-state armed group are involved in an armed conflict. As Éric David stated, the rules of IHL can be simply summed up as “do not attack non-combatants, attack combatants only by legal means, treat persons in your power humanely, and protect victims.” The complexity of international humanitarian law lies in the factual conditions surrounding the conflict in question: who are the combatants and non-combatants? What means and methods of warfare are being used to attack the combatants? When is treatment inhumane? How are civilians being protected?
International humanitarian law derives its legitimacy from common human values and universal adoption. In his master’s thesis, Louis Lafrance argued international humanitarian law is the product of “an intuitive force and can even be said to be a requirement of the human condition, which causes killing, torture, slavery, and unfair judgement to arouse repulsion not only among the vast majority of intellectuals but among ordinary people as well. Whether attributed to reason, universal harmony or the divine origin of mankind, sound assertions are made about human nature.”
Wherever there are people, there is an agreed set of rules that we agree to live by. In this way, humanitarian law is a codification of accepted customs and customary law during times of armed conflict. Just because in some cases belligerents choose to ignore these codes and customs does not mean they are without value. In the face of war, humanitarian law is perhaps one of the most poignant examples of law attempting to provide dignity in cases where killing is a legitimate and lawful activity.
In addition to the general protection of civilians in situations of armed conflict, international humanitarian law affords specific protections for women. For example, under Article 8(a) of Additional Protocol I, maternity cases get priority for medical assistance over the wounded and sick irrespective of whether military personnel or civilian. Article 14 of the Fourth Geneva Convention recognizes expectant mothers and mothers of children under seven as a specific category that may require special protection along with the wounded, sick, and children under 15. Under Article 27, female civilians must be protected against any attack on their honour, including rape, forced prostitution, or any form of indecent assault.
In the last 20 years, under another branch of public international law — international criminal law — decisions by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda enabled prosecutions of rape in situations of armed conflict and recognized that rape can be a crime against humanity and an instrument of genocide. In 1998, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court codified rape as an international crime and included other crimes against women, such as sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, and sexual violence.
Starting in 2000 with the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325, there has been a series of Security Council resolutions dealing with women, peace, and security. UNSCR 1325 is the most broad and calls for the participation of women in peace processes; gender training in peacekeeping operations; protection of women and girls and respect for their rights; and gender mainstreaming in the reporting and implementation systems of the UN relating to conflict, peace and security.
In 2008, UNSCR 1820 explicitly recognized sexual violence as a tactic of war and called for the training and discipline of members of the military in relation to sexual violence. The next year, UNSCR 1888 called on the UN secretary general to develop a proposal to ensure monitoring and reporting of sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict situations. It also called on the secretary general to establish the mandate of the Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict. Margot Wallström was appointed in 2010. UNSCR 1889, in 2009, focused on data collection and analysis. Finally, in 2010, UNSCR 1960 focused on the creation of institutional tools to combat impunity.
As disturbing as the brutality of the stories of survivors is, there has been criticism of the approach taken by some academics, activists, NGOs, state, and international actors that focus their “war and gender” lens on the rape of women as a weapon of war. There are concerns that a continual framing of rape and violence against women in situations of conflict allows only a one-dimensional view of women and men who are caught in these situations — women as victims and men as perpetrators.
As long as women are only seen and dealt with as victims, they will not be allowed to participate in decision-making and other activities to protect women and children and move towards peace in situations of conflict. Some see the Security Council resolutions that followed 1325 as watering it down and marginalizing the voices of women and the contributions they can make towards their own self-protection and the strengthening of their communities through the shaping of peace.
In January of this year, in an open letter to member states of the Security Council regarding UNSCR 1960 and 1325, the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders highlighted the fact that UNSCR 1960 was adopted without the consultation of women on the ground. The letter goes on to say:
“We cannot pluck rape out of war for our attention and let the war go on. We must be passionate about preventing and stopping wars, and about recognizing the equal right of women to seats at all tables where decisions are made. Rape will be reduced when violence is reduced and when women are taken more seriously and treated equally in all decisions on the fate of humanity.”
As unfashionable as peace may be to a cynical public, and as disruptive as peace may be for the current economic and political power players — I think they have a point.
b_150_0_16777215_00___images_stories_01-CANADIANLawyer_Columnists_sonyanigam.jpgIn a recent Al Jazeera report, doctors working in a hospital spoke of how they found Viagra and condoms in the pockets of dead Libyan army soldiers. Putting this together with the reports of rape of women adds important details to the picture of an army not only armed with the hardware of war such as guns, rifles, tanks, and bombs but also the chemical and protective gear to carry out yet another way to attack — rape.

The lawyer who cried wolf

  • A defence counsel on drowning in the politics of fear & loathing
Written by Posted Date: May 30th, 2011
b_150_0_16777215_00___images_stories_01-CANADIANLawyer_Columnists_js_vijaya.jpgI don’t wish to be the criminal lawyer who cried wolf. But, I am going to, because I believe we have some good reasons to be worried about our future. I believe that we are currently drowning in the political climate of fear and loathing. I believe that we are leaning towards the old school, Old Testament, retribution agendas. I believe we are slowly going to lose some of our rights guaranteed to us in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
b_150_0_16777215_00___images_stories_01-CANADIANLawyer_2011_May_making_rain_15.jpgIn this May episode of Making Rain, executive coach Debra Forman offers thoughts on how to lead project teams to provide effective and efficient client service. click here to view video

Liquid assets

  • Wine can often be the most illiquid asset in an estate
Written by Posted Date: May 23rd, 2011
Photo: Hemera
Photo: Hemera
Wine, ironically, is often the most illiquid asset in an estate. Whether the estate is the result of a death, divorce, or bankruptcy, laws dating back to the days of prohibition restrict avenues available to administrators and executors. In this article we explore the methods of realizing cash or a taxable benefit from the fruit of the vine.

Movin’ on up: effective motion advocacy

  • Arguably the Best
Written by Posted Date: May 23rd, 2011
b_150_0_16777215_00___images_stories_01-CANADIANLawyer_Columnists_leon_agarwal.jpgThis is the fourth instalment of Arguably the Best, our year-long series on improving your litigation skills.

Immigration policy about more than economics

  • The Immigration Line
Written by Posted Date: May 23rd, 2011
b_150_0_16777215_00___images_stories_01-CANADIANLawyer_Columnists_jennifer-nees.jpgAs an immigration lawyer, I have seen first-hand stories of individuals who arrived to Canada as skilled workers, highly trained and very well educated, who find themselves unable to find work in their field. Lack of Canadian experience, “foreign” accents, and great expense for accreditation of foreign credentials all become insurmountable barriers for many of the world’s foreign skilled workers who come to Canada.

Notable developments south of the border

  • Definitely Mabey
Written by Posted Date: May 16th, 2011
b_150_0_16777215_00___images_stories_01-CANADIANLawyer_Columnists_stephen-mabey.jpgThis month’s column is focused on current awareness.

You should be thinking about client data protection

  • The IT Girl
Written by Posted Date: May 16th, 2011
b_150_0_16777215_00___images_stories_01-CANADIANLawyer_Columnists_sarah-dale-harris.jpgMany people associate client data protection (CDP) with large global transactions. Outsourcing-related deals in all likelihood contemplate some form of access to and transmission of, and possibly the retention, storage, and/or destruction of client data. But it is also true that if you have resources (people) supporting your projects from oversees (Europe or India) or you have servers outside the jurisdiction in which services are being delivered, you need to think about whether there are contractual provisions in place and laws that apply to you with regard to data (be it personal, health, relating to children, etc.) that isn’t yours.

Helpless tells only half the story

  • Law Library
Written by Posted Date: May 16th, 2011
Helpless: Caledonia’s Nightmare of Fear and Anarchy, and How the Law Failed All of Us; By Christie Blatchford, Doubleday Canada, 2010, pp. 258, $32.95
Helpless: Caledonia’s Nightmare of Fear and Anarchy, and How the Law Failed All of Us; By Christie Blatchford, Doubleday Canada, 2010, pp. 258, $32.95
To understand what happened in Caledonia, Ont., in 2006, you have to understand what happened in Ipperwash, Ont., in 1995.
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