Challenges and Opportunities in 2017-2018
Day one of my term as Branch president comes with a series of deadlines, including the submission of my first of six columns for BarTalk. The year ahead will be filled with a number of challenges, but also with many opportunities and I am eager to move forward on a number of fronts.
As vice-president and chair of the CBABC Government Relations Committee, I was heavily involved in preparing the Agenda for Justice the Branch released in advance of this year’s provincial election. It was a pleasure working on this project with my predecessor, Michael Welsh, who was a tireless advocate for our justice system, as well as the many other volunteers who helped promote the needs of our justice system during the campaign. The NDP made a number of commitments in this area – even before the extent of the budget surplus was known. A key goal for our advocacy efforts in the year to come will be to work with the new government to ensure that the needs of the justice system are a priority and necessary funding is allocated, and to provide assistance and cooperation where appropriate as new initiatives are implemented.
I also intend to focus much effort on ensuring that the CBA BC Branch continues to meet its evolving member needs. It is important to ensure that our programs and services provide value to members across the province. In 2016, the CBA nationally adopted a new strategic direction, and work to operationalize that new direction has been under way throughout 2017. That work includes a review of our member products and services both at the national and Branch levels in order to ensure that everything we do meets important needs of our members. The results of that review will be implemented during the course of the upcoming year. While change is necessary, it will be important to ensure that our members understand what is and is not changing and how changes will improve the CBA. Personally, what drew me into my long-term involvement and commitment to the CBA was my Section involvement as well as my ability to be part of law reform through the Branch Legislation and Law Reform Committee. I suspect that every member has slightly different reasons for belonging to the CBA. We need to ensure that the activities we offer both nationally and at the Branch level provide the greatest value to as many members as possible at a reasonable cost.
Speaking of change, we are in the midst of implementing significant changes to the governance of the CBA at the national level. Starting September 1, 2017, we have a new more streamlined national board and committee structure. Centralized, in-person “national Council” meetings were eliminated last year, replaced by an AGM, which allowed for member participation from hubs across the country. Those changes did not affect Branch governance, although many Branches have begun to review their own structures over the past year. The BC Branch has already begun to review its committee structure, and we will look more broadly at our own governance structures over the upcoming year.
One other important initiative will continue this year. In January 2017, the BC Branch launched a working group to determine how our Branch should respond to the calls to action of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission. That working group, chaired by Tina Dion, QC, is working cooperatively with similar groups established by the Law Society and CLEBC. I look forward to continuing to support and work with the CBABC Working Group.
I look forward to working with all of you, and am always happy to hear your thoughts and comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.