Canadian Lawyer

April 2021

The most widely read magazine for Canadian lawyers

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Page 10 of 51 9 Attorney General Doug Downey on justice reforms What among the proposed changes in the accel- erating Access to Justice Act advance your goal of modernizing the justice system? Let's start with the premise that the justice system is more than what happens in courtrooms. So, this touches on tribunals, estates law, family law, child pro- tection. And then, of course, we get into access for rural and Francophone and Indigenous communities as well. So, it touches on a lot. What among the proposed changes will help reduce court delays? So much of this is client focused and making it easier for people to access the system. By consolidating the tribunals and finding ways not to have overlap, that's going to make things move faster. It's going to make them move better. Sometimes, in front of these land tribunals, you end up in front of more than one at the same time. And there are inherent inefficiencies and overlap in that. In terms of estates law, it's changing a lot of how that works. And that will help some people avoid court. It'll help other people clarify what needs to happen and what they can do in front of the court. How will the amendments to the Children's Law Reform Act reduce red tape for parents and guardians? Well, it'll create a situation where parents and guardians aren't going to have to bring a court application at all because we're increasing the threshold. And, currently, the $10,000 threshold is quite low, and moving it up to triple that is going to take a whole segment of people out of having to go to court to get the money that is rightfully belonging to the children. What is your response to the criticism that the Judicial Appointments Advisory Committee changes allow the AG much more latitude to select judges based on their political views? Any change is disconcerting for some people. Certainly, for people who want to protect the status quo, it's disconcerting for them. But this is an area that hadn't been looked at for some time. And I don't think that any part of our justice system is working perfectly, is sacro- sanct. I think that we need more diversity in many parts of our selection of judges. And I've landed in a space where the great majority of the legal profession is quite comfortable. All that I can say is that those who are try- ing to protect the status quo are the outliers on this. Is diversity of thought any part of this? When I'm talking about diversity, I'm talking about the face of the court looking like the people that it serves. That's why I specifically have put in these measures that I want reporting to have transparency and what's actually happening. I want to know, on an annual basis, who's applying, so that if we need to be encouraging people or opening up pathways for people to be apply- ing, to demystify this process. It is still an intimidating process for people. I think by my showing transparency, that will create a pressure that will cause change. Proposed estates law changes will create convenience, more litigation: lawyers Among the array of estates law reforms within the Accelerating Access to Justice Act are changes that practitioners and clients will welcome for promoting convenience and some that are sure to produce more litigation, say lawyers. The bill will make permanent the ability to virtually sign and witness wills and powers of attorney, repeal the law revoking an existing will when the testator gets married and grant judges the power to validate improperly executed wills. Linda Rothstein wins The Advocates' Society Medal for 2021 Linda Rothstein, a partner at Paliare Roland Rosenberg Rothstein LLP, has received The Advocates' Society Medal for 2021, representing the highest esteem that a member may receive and recognizes significant contributions to the legal profession and legal community. The medal, which was established more than four decades ago, honours dedicated and active members who are pre-eminent counsel and acknowledged bar leaders. Dye & Durham has an eye to more growth After a year of "explosive growth," Dye & Durham is focused on business integration in 2021. Still, the company also has its eyes open for further "additions to the family," says John Robinson, president of Dye & Durham Canada. "We've spent the last few years building our growth plans as a leading provider of cloud-based software and technology solutions for the legal and business community," Robinson says. "Acquisitions have been a key strategy in helping achieve our goals." Q&A Doug Downey Attorney General of Ontario, MPP for Barrie-Springwater- Oro-Medonte Legal career: » In 2001, co-founded law firm Lewis Downey Tornosky & Lassaline » Ontario Bar Association secretary from 2009 to 2010 and treasurer from 2010 to 2014 Politics » Parliamentary assistant to Finance Minister Vic Fedeli: June 29-June 20, 2019 Schools: » Hons. B.A. from Wilfrid Laurier University » LLB from Dalhousie University » LLM in Municipal and Development Law through Osgoode Hall Law School

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