It is increasingly easy these days to lapse into an attitude of cynicism and incivility. When the so-called “Leader of the Free World” labels his opponents with childish nicknames, lies with the regularity of a goose on a high fiber diet, and seeks to treat the legal system as a tool for advancing his personal, business and political interests, there cannot help but be some subconscious lowering of the standards of acceptable behaviour writ large. Without even knowing we are doing so, it is all too easy now to say or do things that we would not have considered to be appropriate or acceptable in the pre-Trump era. When measured against the circus to the South, such words or conduct may seem benign or even banal.
What, one might ask, does this have to do with the Calgary Bar Association (“CBA”)? A lot.
Established in 1890, the CBA committed its raison d’etre to writing in its 1916 Constitution, including Article 2 which provides that:
“The objects of the Association shall be to advance the interests of the legal profession, uphold the honour of the profession of law and encourage cordial intercourse among its members.”
I wish to draw your attention to the last words – and not just for the cheap laugh for which we regularly exploit them. We take quite seriously (although hopefully with humour and fun), our mandate to promote civility, collegiality and a sense of community among and for our members. Our central thesis remains that it is more difficult to be snarky, obstreperous, less than forthright or worse with opposing counsel or the Court after you have met, talked with and perhaps even shared an adult beverage (or three) with that person at one of our events. It is also rewarding to feel part of a community of lawyers (and Judges) who make significant and meaningful contributions to worthwhile causes that need extra funding.
Permit me, therefore, to tell you a little bit more about the CBA and how it can help combat the prevailing atmosphere of diminishing personal interactions, mean tweets, and cynicism which threatens to overtake us (and which no wall, however high and beautiful, will protects us from).
But first, allow me to introduce you to your dedicated Executive team, comprising:
Jay Headrick, Vice President
Gord Sterchi, Treasurer
Jody Sutherland, Secretary
Aaron Bickman, Senior Member
Adriano Iovinelli, Middle Member
Melanie Gaston, Junior Member
We will be assisted in our efforts by Past President, Susan Pepper. Our organization owes Susan a tremendous debt of gratitude for her seven (soon to be eight) years of service. Her fair mindedness, impeccable judgment and sneaky good sense of humour have proven valuable to our cause and made her a genuine joy to work with. (So much so that I am prepared to forgive her irrational preference for Pinot Grigio over Sauvignon Blanc!)
I would be remiss if I did not take this opportunity to also thank Madam Justice April Grosse, who chose pension over power by accepting a well-deserved appointment to the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench while her term as President of the CBA was less than 2 years away. April’s intellectual and ethical discipline, unbounded energy and enthusiasm, and big brain will serve the Province well with her new role, but definitely leave big shoes to fill at the CBA.
With those introductions and thank yous, let me turn to the business of the CBA. We have a full schedule of events for the upcoming year at which you are invited to meet, network with and perhaps even share the aforementioned adult beverages with other members of the Bar and Bench. Mark your calendars for the following:
Judges’ Dinner – April 4th, 2019 at the Westin;
Curling Bonspeil – April 12th, 2019 at the Glencoe Club
Stampede Whoop Up – July 9th , 2019 at the Wild Horse Saloon.
Of course you have to purchase/ renew your Membership in order attend these events. We have tried to make renewal as seamless as possible, and have included the information with this package.
In addition to hosting social events, the CBA has continued its valued partnership with the University of Calgary Law School in sponsoring the Milvain Chair in Advocacy. This year, we were honoured to have Justice Moldaver of the Supreme Court of Canada present a lecture to the law students about the trials (figurative and literal) and tribulations of being a criminal defence lawyer, and a Judge. If you ever get the opportunity to hear Justice Moldaver speak, take it. He is a gifted storyteller, and has strongly held and substantial views on many aspects of our legal system.
We also this year increased our support for the Great Bar Band Battle by becoming Presenting Sponsor of this hugely successful (and fun) event which has raised over $73,000 for access to justice since 2016. I am happy to advise that we have renewed our sponsorship for the 2019 edition which will be held on May 30 (go to www.barbandbattle.com for more information).
Finally, but perhaps most importantly, the CBA continued and will continue its proud tradition of supporting charitable causes. Please understand that a portion of your membership fees and the ticket prices that we charge for our events go to very worthwhile causes. In the past year, in addition to our annual $5,000 scholarship for a UofC law student, we contributed amounts to deserving organizations as follows:
Calgary Drug Treatment Court: $20,000;
Legal Archives Society re: Posthumous Bar Call for WWI Veterans: $9000;
ASSIST: $10,000; and
Our organization, and the resulting good works, are entirely dependent upon your continued support and participation. We look forward to seeing all of you at our events in the upcoming year.
Calgary Bar Association