THE ADVOCATE 91
VOL. 78 PART 1 JANUARY 2020
By the Honourable David Eby, Q.C.*
REASONS TO CELEBRATE ACCESS TO JUSTICE WEEK
Up until this year, I have been apprehensive about celebrating Access to
Justice Week. My concerns before being elected centred on my belief
that the previous provincial government was using Access to Justice
Week to distract from a series of failures on the file dating back to the
cuts of 2002. These concerns did not magically disappear at the first
Access to Justice Week that took place a few months after I was sworn in
as Attorney General.
Worries about which direction the new government was headed on this
important file were openly expressed by more than a few lawyers. At that
stage, things looked pretty much the same to everyone who cares about the
right of people in our province to access justice, and a demoralized bar was
understandably cynical about the opportunity for change. For example,
early in our mandate, I commissioned an external review of legal aid service
delivery in B.C. to be conducted by Jamie Maclaren, Q.C., intending that
his report would act as our roadmap forward.
Many lawyers who care passionately about access to justice in our
province, fatigued by endless reports and persistent injustice, were at best
skeptical of the Maclaren report initiative. At worst they were outraged by
yet another review—from their perspective a disturbingly familiar government
ploy to delay long overdue action. But two years down the road, the
story is beginning to change. We have announced major funded initiatives
that are real, lasting and increasingly visible to British Columbians both in
and outside the legal profession. These reforms are highly informed by the
important work done by Mr. Maclaren.
* The Honourable David Eby, Q.C., is British Columbia’s Minister of Justice and Attorney General.