By Frank Friesacher
Where has the time gone? Unimaginably, my term as president comes to an end, countable in days by the time this goes to print. I was warned about this, but it is still hard to fathom. Much excitement for the future caps off what was an amazing and productive year. As the membership year winds up, here is my last report to you all, and a brief opportunity to reflect.
Without reservation, the biggest accomplishment in my mind for CBA Alberta in 2018-19 was the profile created for justice issues in Alberta. Our efforts were spurred on by a comment from our previous Justice Minister that no one had raised justice issues with her during the previous election campaign; we were determined that no one would be able to say the same this time! Our Agenda for Justice committee worked hard to refine the various issue backgrounders included in our Justice Matters: An Agenda for Justice document. We then worked with media consultants to sharpen the issues into an infographic on why the issues matter to Albertans. Once the provincial election writ dropped, we held a media event to raise the profile of justice issues. We received both primetime TV and morning radio coverage, and the media then followed up to elicit comments from major party leaders on our concerns raised over resources for the justice system. We also ensured that all parties and all lawyers running in the election had a copy of the Agenda for Justice. We strongly believe these efforts raised our credibility as an advocate on justice issues in Alberta, acknowledged by our meeting with the new Justice Minister within a week of his appointment. We are dedicated to continuous bold advocacy for justice in Alberta.
The CBA West conference, jointly hosted by Alberta and BC’s Branches, was another success. Held in Penticton in April, the conference featured cutting-edge topics on emerging technologies, managing intellectual capital, and lawyers as leaders, plus a keynote from former SCC Justice, The Honourable Thomas Cromwell. The weekend was a win for those in attendance who, along with professional development, greatly appreciated the opportunity to sample quality BC wines.
CBA Alberta continued to move its governance restructuring forward this year. Our final Council meeting was held in May, where we thanked our volunteer Council members for their commitment over the years. We are looking forward to the new governance structure and the new possibilities for growth it will bring. Looking forward, our nimble Board of Directors will be constituted in the fall, and we can continue the challenges of both rowing and steering CBA Alberta forward, with an eye to increased and focused advocacy, continued high-quality PD, new and meaningful opportunities for member engagement, and improved and fresh forms of communication with the membership and beyond.
Upcoming events for CBA Alberta are Access to Justice Week (28 Sep – 5 Oct) and the Treaty 7 Blackfoot Crossing Field Trip on 23 Aug.
Special recognition to our outgoing Past President Jenny McMordie. Jenny’s dedication and commitment to CBA and to the legal profession are unmatched. Her sense of humour, her kind spirit and her sage input have been invaluable… not to mention her eagle-eye at grammar and catching typos! Jenny has been a role model to me and on behalf of us all I thank her for her service to the Branch.
I leave the organization soon in the hands of my successor, incoming President Ola Malik. Do not expect tweets and selfies from Ola like you had from me: social media and self-recognition are both anathema to him. What you can expect is incredible enthusiasm for CBA, for awareness of the challenges facing our profession, and for a bold vision on implementing change. Ola has shown patience, insight and leadership on the executive, and I have strong confidence in him.
Join me in congratulating Amanda Lindberg, who was acclaimed as Secretary in the spring. Amanda will be joined on next year’s executive by Ola, Vice-President David Hiebert, our exceptional and talented Executive Director Maureen Armitage, and myself as Past President. Of course the call is now underway for a Treasurer nomination to replace the Honourable Madam Justice Johanna Price, in whom we are proud after her recent appointment!
CBA Alberta is an amazing and exceptional organization. Our vibrant Sections North and South deliver nearly 500 unique PD events to our members every year. We create a home and a gathering place for lawyers across the province. We are part of CBA National and together we speak for the profession, we protect the integrity of our courts and our justice system.
I am proud to have served as your President, and I thank our members for their encouragement and support. I have travelled the country, I have made friends and met amazing people, I have been challenged and I have been rewarded. I am grateful for this opportunity, and I am excited for the future.
“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.” ― Henry James. Enjoy your summer, get energized and enthused, and then get ready for another exciting and transformational CBA year!