200 V O L . 7 5 P A R T 2 M A R C H 2 0 1 7 THE ADVOCATE Our goal is to provide the benchers with a workable plan—a sort of “unified theory” of legal aid—that the Law Society can carry forward in an endeavour to resolve this matter, for there can be no doubt that there is much at stake. With that being said, let us put the present situation in context. A recent issue of The Economist is entitled “Canada’s Example to the World: Liberty Moves North”. The cover depicts the Statue of Liberty wearing a crown topped with a maple leaf. The statue’s right hand holds the torch. The left hand holds a folio bearing, in Roman numerals, the date of July 1, 1867, the date of Confederation. The cover story is an encomium to the special form and resilience of our democracy. It is replete with laudatory comments. Let me give you a sampling. “Canada has long seemed to outsiders to be a citadel of decency, tolerance and good sense.” “Today, in its lonely defence of liberal values, Canada seems downright heroic. In an age of seductive extremes, it remains reassuringly levelheaded.” “For now, the world owes Canada gratitude for reminding it of what people are in danger of forgetting: that tolerance and openness are wellsprings of security and prosperity, not threats to them.” As Canadians we have much to be proud of. We take pride in our “just society”. We take pride in our multicultural heritage and the fact that this unique aspect of Canadian society is enshrined in s. 27 of the Charter. We take pride in the belief that our system of government is equal to any and that our system of justice is second to none. We take pride in our respect for human rights and the worth and dignity of the individual. We take pride in our system of free and fair elections and in the orderly and peaceful transition of power following those elections. We take pride that, under our Constitution, we zealously embrace the rule of law, which is the keystone of our democracy and a founding principle of our society. And it is the rule of law which will inform much of our discussion today. The rule of law is fundamental to the existence of a liberal democracy. Indeed, it is the starting point—the sine qua non—of a free and democratic society. Without it we have nothing. As the Supreme Court of Canada stated in 2005, “The rule of law is a fundamental postulate of our constitutional structure that lies at the root of our system of government.” The rule of law is a philosophical construct of some complexity, although the phrase itself is in common use. In our profession, the Barristers’ and Solicitors’ Oath requires us, upon our call to the bar, to “uphold the rule of law and the rights and freedoms of all persons”.
March Pages 2017
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