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Monday, February 22, 2016

MANITOBA JUSTICE BREAKS NEW GROUND

On Feb. 12, the Manitoba Provincial Court in Winnipeg officially swore in the country’s first self-identifying transgender judge. Kael McKenzie was sworn in after serving as a private lawyer and a crown attorney.

He graduated from the University of Manitoba in 2006 and was called to the bar a year later. An active member of the province’s legal and LGBTQ communities, he is also of Metis decent.

Manitoba’s Justice Minister Gord Mackintosh said during the ceremony that the appointment sends a strong message across the country, especially to youth, “that the world is for everyone.”

“It’s historic. Any time the court can be more diverse, I think it strengthens the court, it makes it more legitimate, it gives greater authority,” he added.

In a press release announcing the appointment, McKenzie said: “Most moving was the outreach I received from parents of transgender children across the country. They acknowledged their fears for their children’s futures and somehow my appointment elated their fears.”

HOLD ON TO YOUR HATS, IT’S FLIP YOUR WIG 2016

Later this week, The Action Group on Access to Justice of the Law Society of Upper Canada will be hosting its second annual Flip Your Wig for Justice fundraising and awareness event. ITAG calls on all legal professionals to don a colourful or wacky wig all day Feb. 25 and collect pledges to support the efforts. Funds raised that day will go to the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, Community Legal Education Ontario, METRAC – Action on Violence, Ontario Justice Education Network, and Pro Bono Students Canada.

A Flip Your Wig celebration will be held at the LSUC’s upper and lower barristers’ lounge at 130 Queen St. West from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.

OBA announces new accolades

The Ontario Bar Association has announced two new awards in tax and health law. The OBA Susan Hilary Davidson Memorial Award for Excellence in Health Law has been established to recognize outstanding achievements by OBA members practising in health law for Ontario. According to a release announcing the new awards, it is named for the late Ms. Davidson in recognition of her excellence and dedication to the health law field. The OBA Award for Excellence in Taxation  Law was created to recognize the exceptional contributions or achievements of OBA members in this area of law. Both new awards will be presented in June. More criteria and nomination forms can be found on the OBA web site.

ESSAY CONTESTS DEADLINE THIS WEEK

The annual essay contests of the Canadian Bar Association are open. The deadline for submissions in administrative law, construction and infrastructure law, environmental, energy and resources law, intellectual property, and real property is Feb. 29. The CBA essay contests are for all Canadian law students. The best submissions will receive awards between $250 and $2,500 in cash.

LAW TIMES POLL

When it comes to grading the expense of a new mentoring program created by the LSUC, our readers are fairly evenly split. We asked our readers if they thought the program — being launched later this year at a cost of $250,000 to start, and forecasted to increase to just less than $500,000 in 2017 and up to $600,000 in 2018 — is a good investment.

Only 54.5 per cent of the respondents said yes, this is a good investment, as mentoring and career coaching will yield large dividends for developing lawyers and the profession as a whole. That left 45.5 per cent who said no, the funding should be invested elsewhere and career coaching can be developed in other ways.

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It's unknown how widely police in Ontario utilize controversial surveillance techniques that can capture private data from non-targets in criminal investigations. Do you think there should be formal requirements to release this information?
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