NCLA Statement in Response to #FullStop
The Northumberland County Law Association is a medium sized association of lawyers who advocates for its members’ interests as lawyers, while encouraging a strong sense of community and collaboration.
With acknowledgement to statements made by our colleagues at the CCLA on 21 May, 2021, as well as the Joint Statement released 16 April, 2021, by the South Asian Bar Association of Toronto (SABA Toronto), Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers (Ontario) (FACL), the Canadian Association of Black Lawyers (CABL), and the Canadian Muslim Lawyers Association (CMLA), denouncing recent communications from the “StopSOP/FullStop” movement which openly criticized the “woke ideology” and “EDI dogma” in the Law Society of Ontario (LSO). The NCLA board stands in solidarity with the CCLA, SABA Toronto, FACL, CABL, and CMLA.
The NCLA is committed to having an inclusive association where all members of the bar feel welcomed and are encouraged to participate while promoting the importance of access to justice, equality, diversity and inclusion. The NCLA recognizes the numerous issues faced by racialized licensees in the legal profession, and acknowledges and supports efforts made by the LSO to address the issues of systemic racism in the legal profession. The NCLA also recognizes the work and continuous efforts which are required for a diverse and inclusive profession.
Further comments from NCLA Members
“On April 16, 2021, the South Asian Bar Association of Toronto, the Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers, the Canadian Association of Black Lawyers, and the Canadian Muslim Lawyers Association issued a Joint Statement condemning the divisive, misleading, and inflammatory messaging from #FullStop and its opposition to profession-wide reforms and support for equity, diversity, and inclusion.
To ignore, or worse yet to actively deny, the existence of systemic racism in our social, political and legal systems is deeply troubling and perpetuates the inequality that continues to disadvantage racialized groups to the benefit of others. I believe that it is our professional obligation to ensure the principles of access to justice, equity, diversity and inclusion are not only promoted but realized in the legal sector. We have a long way to go to achieve success on this issue but we should not be dissuaded from instituting reform in these areas by a group intent on dragging us backwards through the use of rhetoric, manipulation, and misinformation.”
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“I seldom respond to “calls for input” but I felt compelled to reply to this request. I am a “privileged” old white guy.
However, I am deeply embarrassed and disappointed to learn that there are members of our profession in Ontario who deny that systemic racism is an issue in the legal field if not society at large. When such members oppose steps to attempt to remedy the problem and when they call out reforms as being “excessive political correctness” or “woke culture mandates” their attitude smacks of Trumpism invading our country. Ironically these deniers highlight the need for education and other reforms promoting equality, diversity, and inclusion.”
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“This movement came as a major disappointment especially considering the challenges facing vulnerable populations at this time. As an advocate we are guided by regulatory guidelines and principals, and we take an oath to ensure we are aligned with the values of the Human Rights Code, and that we would do our best to promote better access to Justice. Living in a rural community and being a visible minority advocate, I see these challenges first hand especially when the basis of the legal foundation such as the LSO, ignores these core principles and values. The LSO’s campaign is not only disrespectful to racialized communities and advocates across the world fighting for change, but undermines the efforts of these racialized communities in attempting to better support each other.
The action the LSO has taken provides a clear message that access to justice is neither important nor valued, and with actions like this we are going back in history instead of forward. This is a time to come together, and educate one another. As part of the NCLA we are a small rural association with diverse, and hardworking individuals that are continuously committed to improving the system and in ensuring that racialized communities are well supported. Yet again, this is just another example, of our values, and actions to end systemic racism being ignored. And without that recognition and support from our own regulatory body how can we ever move forward, and or how will our services to those vulnerable populations ever survive?”