Annual Report 2014/2015

  • July 23, 2015

Submitted by Section Co-Chair, Aleem Bharmal

Summary of Meetings

Number of Meetings Held: 5

July 31, 2014 (Section term 2013-2014)
Guest Speaker: N/A
Meeting Title/Topic: Social Justice Summer Drinks
Synopsis: Summer networking patio event.

October 8, 2014
Guest Speaker: N/A
Meeting Title/Topic: Fall Social Justice Get-Together
Synopsis: Fall pub networking event.

November 26, 2014
Guest Speakers: Mary Childs, Partner, Ethos Law Group LLP, and Seth Klein, Director, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, BC Branch
Meeting Title/Topic: Recent Legal Challenges to Social Justice Organizations
Synopsis: Mary recently spearheaded a letter campaign that was ultimately signed by over 50 societies and submitted to the government in response to its "White Paper" on suggested amendments to the BC Society Act. Mary presented on these recently proposed changes and the particular challenges they may pose for not-for-profit social justice organizations. She discussed primarily the troubling implications of s.99, one of the most troubling and unique suggested new remedy provisions to the Act. She also briefly discussed the new proposed "oppression" and "derivative" remedies that seem to have been adapted and imported from corporate law. She subsequently answered questions and led a post-presentation discussion on this matter.

Seth Klein presented on the CCPA and its policy analysis work supporting a number of social justice causes and the CCPA's recent challenges being audited by the Canadian Revenue Agency. He also discussed, from his experience, his views on the impartiality / fairness of these audits on organizations such as his, which has been a recent hot topic in the media was illustrated by a recent Globe and Mail article by Gerald Caplan.

Seth and Mary subsequently answered questions and led a lively discussion on this matter as well as on the overall appearance of governments cracking down on and penalizing any forms of what they perceive to be public or organizational dissent.

May 13, 2015
Guest Speakers: Aleem Bharmal, Executive Director, Community Legal Assistance Society, and Jeremy Shragge, Associate Lawyer, Harper Grey LLP
Meeting Title/Topic: Envisioning Equal Justice & Recent Important Housing Cases
Synopsis: Aleem Bharmal presented on "Envisioning Equal Justice": a discussion on how to begin to redress the great imbalance of a world "thick in law but thin in legal resources."

Jeremy Shragge discussed two recent significant BCSC decisions in which he was lead counsel, Laverdure v. First United Church Social Housing Society, 2014 BCSC 2232 and Martin v. Barnett, 2015 BCSC 426, that have clarified the law on judicial reviews of BC Residential Tenancy Branch decisions, especially with regard to adequacy of reasons and the object of review.

June 18, 2015
Guest Speaker: N/A
Meeting Title/Topic: End-of-Term Elections & Mixer
Synopsis: End-of-term elections for upcoming Executive followed by networking event.

Reports and/or Resolutions Prepared by the Section

Contributed and signed on to submissions prepared by the CBABC Charities & Non-Profit Law Section to government regarding new Societies Act.

Comments and Observations of the Chair

Very important year for the Social Justice Section regarding major changes to Societies Act, especially the proposed s.99 which would have been highly prejudicial to non-for-profit social justice orgs. Fortunately, through extensive organizing, lobbying, writing, etc. (including many members of our Section), this most troubling aspect of the proposed Societies Act was ultimately withdrawn.