View From The Bench

In an odd way, I suppose it is a bit of a badge of honour to receive, at my advanced years, a “Dear John” letter. However, there it was, lurking as an attachment to an email that simply said, “please see attached letter”. It was a bit like the feral cat following the food trail into the cage for ultimate removal.

The letter was very polite, but clear. The phrases were classic. This publication is going in “a new direction” and “will change its focus to cover more topical and controversial matters” (it’s not you, it’s us). “New direction”; for a moment, I thought I had mistakenly boarded the wrong bus. Then I read “in order to increase the space our contributors have to address these issues, the decision was made to discontinue a number of recurring columns”, and I realized it was much more akin to being on an overbooked airplane.

I was invited to submit my “farewell column”. In my line of work, that concept is covered by section 726 of the Criminal Code which allows the offender to address the Court before sentencing.

The bottom line is that this column is now surplus to requirements. Consequently, I bid those kind souls who have read my musings a fond farewell.  I have been writing “A View from the Bench” for 21 years, and the encouraging comments I have received throughout that time continue to be cherished by me. If I have provided some light distraction from the cares of daily practice, then I may well have served a useful purpose. If I have caused some of you to re-examine an idea or two, then, as people much younger than I are wont to say: BONUS.

I have enjoyed nothing but cordial and supportive relationships with the CBA office staff who put together this publication. My most recent “boss” has been Ms. Wright, and she has been so very kind in giving me advance warning of looming deadlines. I happily and publicly express my appreciation.

Will I miss writing this column? The answer to that question would vary depending upon the time at which it is asked. If you asked me when the date for submissions was rapidly approaching and I was bereft of any ideas for a column, the answer would differ from that when the column is finished, and my wonderful and long-suffering wife, Gloria, has read it and smiled, or, absolutely best of all, laughed.

I readily confess that the legal profession, or a desire to join it, has been at the core of my being since I was in Grade 5. It is all I have ever wanted to do, and I continue to enjoy it to a degree that may well cause the Canada Revenue Agency to declare my contentment a taxable benefit. My simple but heartfelt wish for all of those at the bar is that they find pleasure and intellectual satisfaction in the practice of law; the rest will usually sort itself out.

So, after approximately 80 impositions on your time, I will now make way for those whose new direction is “controversial matters”. Without doubt, the world around us provides daily and ample evidence that we are sorely in need of more of those.

The Honourable Judge A.A. Fradsham is a Provincial Court Judge with the Criminal Court in Calgary.  His column “A View From the Bench” has been a highlight in the Canadian Bar Association newsletters for over 15 years.