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202 V O L . 7 5 P A R T 2 M A R C H 2 0 1 7 THE ADVOCATE Indigenous persons—who simply cannot afford to access legal services respecting the multitude of issues that touch their daily lives. Years ago when I worked for Harry Rankin, I remember someone asking him about the nature of our firm’s clientele. Harry said, “I’ll tell you who we act for— it’s very simple. We represent the disabled, the disillusioned, the disadvantaged, the disenfranchised, the disaffected and the disempowered.” I have always referred to this as Harry Rankin’s “six Ds”. No one is untouched by the law. The laws of this country are manifold and pervasive and affect our very existence from birth to death. Let me illustrate this. Martin’s annotated Criminal Code currently contains 848 sections (and myriad subsections) and runs to 1,729 pages. That, along with the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, with 61 sections, comprises the traditional criminal law of this country. But that is by no means the whole story. As of 1983 the Department of Justice estimated that there were some 97,000 offences on the books pursuant to federal statutes and regulations. The federal Income Tax Act is the Mount Everest of these. While it affects each of us, it is a document which almost defies human comprehension. The Income Tax Act is the legal manifestation of the proverbial Gordian knot. Now add to this the provincial laws. In B.C. we have approximately 736 statutes, the majority of which have penalty provisions which fall under the Offence Act, which provides for fines up to $2,000, for imprisonment up to six months and for probation up to two years. Other provincial statutes have their own penalty provisions. An example is the Securities Act. This is a detailed and complex statute. It runs to 188 sections with multiple subsections and accompanying rules and regulations. Carswell’s annotated edition runs to just under 3,000 tightly packed pages of small print. Offences under this statute are punishable by a fine of not more than $3 million or imprisonment for not more than three years, or both, per count. All of this is by way of saying that there are thousands upon thousands of provincial regulatory offences in this province. To all of this one must add our municipal laws. Since 1886 the city of Vancouver alone has passed more than 10,000 bylaws. In a phrase, our laws are ubiquitous. Justice Peter Cory summed the matter up in R. v. Wholesale Travel Group Inc. in 1991: It is difficult to think of an aspect of our lives that is not regulated for our benefit and for the protection of society as a whole. From cradle to grave, we are protected by regulations; they apply to the doctors attending our entry into this world and to the morticians present at our departure.


March Pages 2017
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