By: Frank Friesacher
“Winter Adé” is a popular German children’s song. It means “goodbye winter,” and is a celebration of the coming of spring. As I write this in January, with another cold snap in Edmonton, I expect that by the time it hits your desk in February, we will be moving towards warmer weather! Also by the time you read this, I will have been at Saskatchewan and Manitoba CBA branch mid-winter meetings, and hosted their respective presidents, along with the NWT president and our National President Ray Adlington, in Edmonton at the Alberta Branch AGM and Council meeting on 5 February.
That same day we honored four recipients of the 2019 Distinguished Service Awards, jointly awarded by CBA Alberta and the Law Society of Alberta. Please join me in congratulating Professor Tamara Buckwold (Legal Scholarship), Tracey D. Stock (Pro Bono Legal Service), John-Paul Boyd (Service to the Community) and Kevin Feth, QC (Service to the Profession).
I am over one-third of the way through my year as president, and it has been a whirlwind of activity. Among those doings is the honoured task of bringing greetings and best wishes on behalf of the CBA at the swearing-in ceremonies of our newly appointed Provincial Court or Queen’s Bench judges and justices. Both nationally and provincially, turn-over as well as an emphasis on increasing the judicial complement have meant that these ceremonies have increased in number: I just spoke at my 16th such event since joining the executive, and my sixth in the past five months! Well attended by the Bench and the Bar, and of course by the family and friends of the honoree, it is a wonderful moment to recognize the Canadian judicial system and the rule of law that we should never take for granted, and an opportunity to tell a new audience what the CBA’s role is in that process. While much work goes into customizing these greetings and gathering anecdotes and stories, it is a worthwhile endeavour.
One of those swearing-in ceremonies was in Grande Prairie, on 26 October 2018. Law Society of Alberta President Don Cranston, QC and I took the opportunity to hold a meet-and-greet event with local lawyers. We were able to report on our respective organizations’ current activities, and the local bar shared their concerns. This was a great opportunity to engage with lawyers outside of Edmonton and Calgary, and I look forward to more such events.
For my brief tenure as president, in addition to the various day-to-day responsibilities that the position brings, our executive committee is focusing attention on three areas: (a) a transition of CBA Alberta governance and resulting engagement opportunities; (b) an updated Agenda for Justice in anticipation of the spring 2019 provincial election; and (c) developing greater membership communication and interaction opportunities.
My last report in the fall online Law Matters gave some details on the unfolding of our new CBA Alberta governance model. At the 5 February 2019 AGM, our members were asked to approve the new bylaws to give effect to the model approved by Council last year, to reflect on why this transition is important, and how to continue to build member engagement into everything we do.
Some of those engagement opportunities are immediately ahead of us. We are looking for a North Alberta CBA member to join us on the executive committee. Nominations for the Secretary position will open in March. Also opening up is the opportunity to be the director from Alberta on the CBA national executive, a 2-year term. Both seek candidates who are passionate about the CBA, and committed to building for our future in the best interests of our members and of our profession.
As we have reported throughout this year, the CBA Alberta Branch is focusing efforts on our Agenda for Justice, which outlines priority justice issues, in advance of the upcoming spring 2019 Alberta provincial election.
The original agenda was released by CBA Alberta prior to the 2015 election, and provided members with key messages on why justice matters, and talking points for discussing justice issues with election candidates. It has also proven a useful advocacy tool with the current government and with all stakeholders, outlining why we should be concerned, and why the CBA is involved.
The current priorities we have identified are as follows:
• Legal Aid
• Reforming the Family Justice System
• Drug Treatment Court
• Judicial Compensation
• Distribution of Property for Unmarried Couples
• Resources for the Justice System
Our Agenda for Justice committee has been working hard to update information to arm our members with great collateral to discuss with potential candidates. Look for more information soon on your opportunities to get involved during the campaign and make a difference!
Remember to stay tuned for the upcoming offerings in CBA Alberta’s professional development here.
That’s it, thanks, and all the best in 2019! We at the Canadian Bar Association strive to bring value to our members. I and the Executive Committee welcome your feedback, to help us make your organization the best it can be as we move forward into this year and into new and bold directions.