An Open Invitation

  • December 01, 2015
  • Jennifer Chow

To The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau

Hello Prime Minister,

Congratulations on becoming Canada’s 23rd Prime Minister! You made it look easy!

I send warm greetings from your former stomping grounds – the beautiful province of British Columbia. I thought of Facebook, but didn’t want to get lost among the frenzy. Who else would send you an Open Invitation published in a lawyer’s magazine? Really! I wanted to be the first.

First, thank you. Diversity is indeed what makes us a strong Canada. Thank you for proudly presenting us with a cabinet that looks like Canada. How refreshing. Hear hear!

Diversity is near and dear to my heart. This year, I became the first visible minority president of the BC Branch of the Canadian Bar Association. The Branch, representing approximately 7,000 lawyers, is part of a national not-for-profit society of about 39,000 lawyers across Canada. Yes, that’s a lot of lawyers. That’s a lot of strong voices. We speak out on many issues facing lawyers and the law, including diversity within the legal profession and the judiciary, and access to justice for all citizens.

Like you, I have an extraordinary “cabinet.” My Executive Committee of 10 lawyers is also wonderfully 50-50 gender-balanced. Truth be told, my Executive Committee doesn’t have an actual doctor, war hero or astronaut. We are a group of lawyers after all. My Executive Committee does, however, consist of young and older lawyers, two lawyers of South Asian descent, lawyers and partners from small and large firms from Vancouver to Victoria to Penticton to Kelowna to Smithers. We even have an elected Chinese President from the federal government. Wait, full disclosure – that’s me. As one of your employees, I am also the first Department of Justice lawyer to be the CBABC Branch President. Yes, it’s true, you are my boss. Okay, technically my boss is The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould as the new Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada. But well, you’re the “big boss.”

As Branch President, I formally invite you to come meet and greet our diverse group of BC lawyers. We would be delighted to have you mix and mingle at Provincial Council. Our Provincial Council, like your Parliament, consists of a variety of lawyers from all over BC. They are elected representatives from our general membership. At Provincial Council, we discuss and collaborate on issues facing the legal profession.

If your schedule permits, please join us for one of our meetings in Richmond. Our next meeting dates are: December 5, 2015; and March 5 and June 18, 2016. If it’s not too forward, could you please also bring The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould? We would really like to meet her too.

If you cannot make our Provincial Council dates, please also accept this invitation to attend one of our Executive Committee meetings. A Branch President-Prime Minister tête-à-tête would also be more than acceptable.

If any of these options work for you, we would gladly work around your schedule. Just let us know when you are free. May I also suggest scheduling a bit of Whistler snowboarding into the same trip? I know several lawyers who would make great snowboarding buddies, myself included.

In closing, forget about celebrity magazines swooning over your old boxing photo with the Haida tattoo or calling you “super hot.” I am still swooning over your answer to the media’s question of why you chose 15 women and 15 men to cabinet – “Because it’s 2015.”

I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience. You already have a reason to visit us – “Because it’s British Columbia.”

 

 

 

Jennifer Chow
president@cbabc.org