Canadian Lawyer

February 2021

The most widely read magazine for Canadian lawyers

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www.canadianlawyermag.com 7 or could be perceived as providing legal advice and/or furthering the advocacy" of the FBC. Among the possible outcomes is a recom- mendation from the hearing panel to the attorney general that McLeod be removed from office. "It's a very serious and troubling case," said Sheila Block, a counsel for McLeod. "[It's] serious because on the line is the career and life and community reputation of Donald MacLeod, facing ruinous allegations. [It's] troubling because the central charge, the one that is, as I say, a capital crime for a judge, perjury, has descended on Donald McLeod like a shroud. It has kept him, the only Black judge on this court in Peel Region, off the court for a year and a half. "On top of that, it may be that you're going to be asked to doubt his testimony, to question his honesty," said Block. "For those of us for whom integrity and honesty are essential qualities that we must have, and we covet for our profes- sional and personal standing, you may be asked to make that judgment on a man you cannot even share a room with." McLeod's defence will try to show the panel that the complaint is "misconceived from beginning to end," said Block. She continued that the complaint originated in allegations by a person who has "a vendetta" against McLeod. "Now the community has stood with him," said Block. ". . . We hope to show this panel that this is an honest man, a man of integrity and an asset to this court." After a two-person complaint subcommittee consisting of a judge and community member investigated the complaint, they recommended that McLeod be suspended with pay pending conclusion of the matter. French-speaking lawyers, judges, staff necessary for success of North Bay initiative: lawyer Q&A Areas of practice: Civil trial and appeal counsel: property and casualty, large loss/catastrophe litigation, personal injury, subrogation, environmental, products liability, professional negligence, errors and omissions, arson, fraud and coverage disputes, construction Education: » J.D., University of Toronto, 1988 » B.A. (Hons.) in English, French and International Relations, Trinity College, University of Toronto, 1985 Lee Akazaki Partner GILBERTSON DAVIS LLP The Ontario government announced a new initiative to improve French-language court services in North Bay, Ont. Canadian Lawyer spoke with bilingual lawyer Lee Akazaki, who said the plan will be diffi- cult to implement without French-speakers among the private bar and judiciary, which — outside of Eastern Ontario — is lacking throughout the province. How would you describe the availability of French legal language legal services in Ontario? In Ontario, the situation has been quite dire for many, many years. And I suppose any commitment to improve it, even if it's for one judicial district, is welcome. The challenge in implementing both the letter and the spirit of the French Language Services Act has been because there are insufficient judges and court staff who are capable of functioning in French. You can have a goal of having French language services implemented across Ontario, but it's very much a patchwork, most of which is concentrated in the Ottawa and Eastern Ontario region. Similar initiatives have been taken in Ottawa and Sudbury. How have they panned out? WIn Ottawa, the Superior Court has always been well served. I wouldn't say the judicial complement in Ottawa is as bilingual as one would like. We must remember that the Superior Courts are appointed by the federal government. So, the Ontario government has no real say in the number of bilingual judges in the Superior Court. It does have a say, obviously, in the number of judges in the Ontario Court. But in terms of the availability of French language services, it seems to be restricted mostly to the Sudbury and Ottawa regions, and perhaps it's because of the initiatives that have been taken. But the community can support it. The difficulty in trying to expand this level of service to other regions, starting with North Bay, for example, is will there be enough support for French language services within the judicial system, including the private bar? If the number of lawyers in the region who can provide services, communicating with clients and representing them in court is small, then there will be a bottleneck. Things like the filing of documents is a bit of a practical annoyance, but it really doesn't have a significant impact on the ability to access the justice system. It's more of the question of are there judicial officers, in both levels of court, who are capable of not only understanding French but also communicating in French when they're speaking from the bench? That will certainly be a challenge in North Bay, as it generally is for most of the province outside of Eastern Ontario. *answers have been shortened "We hope to show this panel that this is an honest man, a man of integrity and an asset to this court." Sheila Block, Counsel for Justice Donald McLeod

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