Canadian Lawyer

November 2021

The most widely read magazine for Canadian lawyers

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www.canadianlawyermag.com 7 for the project's bridges. Supreme performed its work but later served RBDB with a notice of lien for more than $7.5 million. However, RBDB argued the Builders' Lien Act did not apply to its subcontract with Supreme, which provides certain exemptions. When Supreme refused to vacate its lien, RBDB applied to the Saskatchewan Court of Queen's Bench to declare that the lien act did not apply in this situation. The chambers judge sided with Supreme Steel. RBDB appealed, claiming there is nothing in the Act's language to limit the scope of the exemptions only to parties who contract directly with the Crown. Supreme, in return, argued that the primary purpose behind the BLA is to ensure that parties who supply work or mate- rials are paid for their services and that RBDB's interpretation would defeat that purpose. A majority of the appeal panel agreed the lien act only allows exemptions for the Crown and those parties who contract directly with the Crown. MLT Aikins' Morrison says the implica- tions of this decision "are significant" for contractors and subcontractors. "It is now settled law in Saskatchewan" that the BLA applies to subcontractors who supply services to exempt projects under The Highways and Transportation Act. Saskatchewan has been an outlier until this decision compared to laws in other provinces. New president, vice- president of Law Society of Manitoba see access to justice among key goals Q&A Grant Driedger » called to bar in 2002 » graduated University of Manitoba law school in 2001 » based in southeastern Manitoba town of Grunthal » practises civil and administrative litigation with Smith Neufeld Jodoin LLP in Steinbach Sacha Paul » graduated from University of Manitoba law school in 2002 » called to bar in Manitoba in 2003, Northwest Territories in 2007, Nunavut in 2014 and Yukon in 2016 » member of English River First Nation » practices civil litigation and Indigenous law at Thompson Dorfman Sweatman LLP Grant Driedger and Sacha Paul recently took over as president and vice-president of the Law Society of Manitoba. Driedger was called to the bar in 2002 after graduating from the University of Manitoba law school. He lives in the southeastern Manitoba town of Grunthal and practices civil and administrative litigation with Smith Neufeld Jodoin LLP in Steinbach. He's been a bencher with the law society since 2014. Paul is an English River First Nation member and has a diverse civil litigation and Indigenous law practice at Thompson Dorfman Sweatman LLP in Winnipeg. He has acted for several large hydroelectric utilities and mining companies, engaging with Indig- enous groups in resource development. Canadian Lawyer talked to them about what they hope to accomplish during their tenure. Explain some of the challenges for your members when it comes to dealing with COVID-19. Driedger: We're dealing with our own issues along with the issues of those we work with. Lawyers generally struggle with mental health issues disproportionately than the overall population. Paul: The law society wants to look at what sort of mental health supports are available to lawyers. We want to ensure lawyers are still providing quality to people in this challenging time. What are your concerns about access to justice, especially during a pandemic? Driedger: We want a system where there is the ability for everyone to find a lawyer or legal help, and to be able to have access to one, whether the client can pay or not. It's a big challenge, especially in a province like Manitoba, where about 60 per cent of the population lives in the Winnipeg area, but legal expertise in rural or more remote communities can be harder to access. Some Indigenous students say the society's "good character" requirements disproportionately discriminate against members of racialized communities who may have had some contact with the law, often when there was no justification. What are your thoughts? Paul: Good character must remain an essential consideration, but the law society wants to be very careful that the process doesn't discourage applicants. We're reworking its application in the context of ensuring it doesn't discourage qualified applicants of Indigenous or other diverse backgrounds. Right now, while the province's Indigenous population is in the mid-teens, percentage- wise, the number of practising Indigenous lawyers is in the low single digits.*answers have been shortened "The Builders' Lien Act ensures that parties who contribute work or materials to a construction project are paid for their services, while also providing security and predictability for owners. This decision provides clarity." Josh Morrison, MLT Aikins LLP Grant Driedger President LAW SOCIETY OF MANITOBA Sacha Paul Vice-President LAW SOCIETY OF MANITOBA

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