THE ADVOCATE 207
VOL. 77 PART 2 MARCH 2019
PRESENTATION MADE TO THE
LEGAL AID COMMITTEE OF THE CBABC
LEGAL AID COLLOQUIUM
By Richard Peck, Q.C.
Two years have passed since our last colloquium. The purpose
of today’s colloquium is to hear a series of presentations by
groups and individuals who understand and work to ameliorate
the challenges faced by persons for whom access to justice—
the very promise of the rule of law—has become elusive, if not
We need to hear and learn from you about the problems and concerns
which arise in the course of dealing with persons whose access to the justice
system is constrained.
We need to know your perspectives and your views. We need to engage
in dialogue, and we hope that in the discussion that follows the presentations
we can have a free flow of ideas. The more information we share, the
more informed we will become.
These are difficult times for access to justice. They were difficult times
two years ago and we had the first colloquium and nothing has appreciably
changed, which is not surprising. Two years is nothing in this context. The
first major review of legal aid in this province was the Attorney General’s
task force in 1984. That was 34 years ago.
Thirty-four years in which the recommendations contained in that report
have lain fallow. What is the old expression? Everything changes, nothing
changes. Let me illustrate. In 1894, almost 125 years ago, the French author
Anatole France penned what were to become his most famous and lasting
words: “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor
to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets and to steal bread.” More than a
century passes but nothing changes!
The forbidden acts referred to by the author are acts aimed at availing
oneself of the mere necessities of life—to wit, shelter and sustenance. Yet
these are still impugned acts pursuant to our laws whether under the Crim-