debate started after there were rumours that benchers who sit on LawPro's board
of directors earn $30,000 a year. Kim Carpenter-Gunn, chairwoman of LawPro,
addressed the issue, stating that as of April 2005, the benchers serving LawPro
are paid an average of only $18,000 a year.
six benchers sit on LawPro's board (Carpenter-Gunn, Constance Backhouse, Abdul
Chahbar, Vern Krishna, Laurie Pawlitza, and Gerald Swaye). Discussion quickly
turned to whether or not there should be a two-tiered system of bencher
Gavin MacKenzie suggested an alternative wording of section G that would state
that benchers will not accept money from outside organizations at all.
was suggested by a motion that Mr. MacKenzie brought that it creates two tiers
of benchers. It certainly does," said Bencher Judith Potter. "Who, in fact,
will be appointed to that board is a huge issue. Why, in fact, that was done
without bringing the issue to this body and having us debate it and deal with
it before it was implemented, I think it's pretty nervy that it was implemented
which is a policy shift for us and we have no say in it and no knowledge of it.
am adamantly opposed to it. I think when we did bencher remuneration, it was to
treat all benchers on an equal basis and I would support that that continue."
Thunder Bay, Ont.'s Ross Murray agreed, saying it was a
mistake that Convocation wasn't involved in LawPro's decision to pay benchers
on the board.
should have been involved in that decision. I don't believe in the two-tier
bencher remuneration system," he said. "I am not even in favour of bencher
remuneration, although it's not a simple statement because I voted in favour
back in, I think, ྛ or ྜྷ, I don't remember which, but I did not vote in
favour on the last vote."
Krishna, and Clayton Ruby all said that while
it's an important debate to have, Convocation can't tell another governing
board what to do, even if the LSUC is a shareholder.
is an independent entity and they have the right to pass the bylaw that they
did and you can't have the law society tampering in our business. You just
can't have it," said Carpenter-Gunn.
Carole Curtis of Toronto
said the issue isn't confusing at all. Convocation wouldn't be telling LawPro
what to do, it would be telling the benchers what they can or can't accept.
motion is not making any effort to deal with another body at all. So, let's not
get confused on this. . . ." she said.
is a lot of money to everybody. There is no one who wouldn't want an
appointment that would result in that level of remuneration — no one."
Topp of Sudbury,
Ont., said he is so opposed that he will not accept a nickel from the law
society in regards to bencher remuneration, no matter how much time he puts in.
said that, the optics of what's happened
here stink. We've gone from a proposal where we set out to the profession that
a bencher would get X dollars and it would be across the board based on the
time and sacrifice they made. And now we have a second class of benchers that
has not been approved by the profession and has not been approved by
Convocation who are going to get whatever. It doesn't matter to me whether it's
$2 or $18,000."
Julian Porter brought a motion to omit section G entirely, and to debate it at
November's Convocation. Pawlitza supported that motion and said it's a good
idea to look into the time commitments involved in all of the outside
organizations benchers are involved in.
of all, although everyone has been speaking about LawPro at length, there are a
number of other organizations, and I think it would be very helpful before
there is a decision made with respect to this, to know what other organizations
and boards benchers are sitting on, what their time commitments are, and what
the remuneration of those boards are," she said. "And if the remuneration of
those boards is consistent with the area in which they are involved, then that
may well be something that this room should consider."