It may not have been quite as raucous as the welcome for a rock star but the 800 mostly women attending LEAF’s annual Person’s Day breakfast were really enthusiastic in their welcome for Louise Arbour.

Arbour, who has recently left her post as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said one of the biggest shocks she had when she started that job was how “at the back of the bus” gender equality was on the international scene.

Gender discrimination is one of the greatest human rights issues in the world. And she said she found the resistance by UN members to dealing with it “absolutely stunning,” particularly coming from Canada, which has had a strong drive for gender equality that has laid the groundwork for other equality seeking groups in this country.

Frustration was her constant companion as the high commissioner, she noted.
“It was a hugely frustrating job,” she said, adding many political systems in the world are openly hostile to human rights agendas.

Despite all the rhetoric of international governments, she found little welcome on the ground.
“As an international actor it is difficult to penetrate the intimate relationship between government and its people,” she said.

Looking back, Arbour noted the UN has all the right principles and standards in place to ameliorate problems in the world but on the ground, the implementation is very weak. Not to mention the great resistance to change she and the commission faced even from members of the UN Human Rights Council.

When asked by CBC Newsworld host and breakfast emcee Suhana Meharchand if she was going to get into politics now that she was back in Canada, Arbour quipped back: “When I finish unpacking, I’ll let you know.”

It’s the first time in a very long time, noted the former Supreme Court of Canada justice, that she’s not jumped directly from job to job, so she wants to take some time to decide on her next move.

“It’s my gap year,” she joked.
However, she did qualify that “national political life doesn’t hold much of an attraction to me.”


York University was set to honour Ontario Court of Appeal Justice Harry LaForme over the weekend with an honorary doctor of laws.

“In bestowing honorary doctorates on these three individuals, we’re recognizing their contributions to their respective disciplines and to Canadian society,” said York University chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri, in announcing the group of recipients that included LaForme.

“We hope they will inspire our Graduates to approach their own careers with the same determination and passion, and to put what they have learned into practice for the betterment of all.”

LaForme - a 1977 Osgoode Hall Law School graduate - was appointed to the Court of Appeal in 2004, making him the first aboriginal person to sit on any appellate court in Canadian history. Upon graduation from Osgoode and being called to the bar in 1979, he began specializing in aboriginal law, with a concentration on matters involving the Constitution and Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

LaForme has spoken on behalf of Canadian aboriginal interests in Switzerland, New Zealand, and the British parliament. He also spent nearly 20 years on Osgoode’s alumni board or directors. He currently is serving as chairman of the Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Canada.

York also honoured Canadian business leader and philanthropist Anthony Arrell and David Broadfoot, a humourist, writer, performer, producer, and director. SUC PUTS CLE ONLINE
The Law Society of Upper Canada has expanded the availability of its CLE programs with the launch of AccessCLE on the law society web site.

The service, which can be found online at, provides full access to CLE papers from 2004. New papers will be added from each new CLE program, and made available for lawyers to purchase and download.

Upcoming CLE sessions include the 11th Colloquium on the Legal Profession, set for Oct. 24 at the University of Windsor, the 9th Employment Law Summit on Oct. 30 in Toronto, and a course entitled “Best Practices before the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board and the Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal” on Dec. 5 in Toronto.

A pair of law firms have been named among “Canada’s Top 100 Employers” for 2009.

Blake Cassels & Graydon LLP and Stikeman Elliott LLP were named to the list, which was recently unveiled in Maclean’s magazine. The ranking, which is managed by Mediacorp Canada Inc., is now in its ninth year. It attempts to identify the companies and organizations that are best able to attract and retain employees within their industries.

“We are honoured to once again be named as one of ‘Canada’s Top 100 Employers,’” said Blakes chairman Jim Christie. “Although we have been fortunate to receive the award during each of the past six years, we certainly don’t take winning for granted.

Each year we update our training opportunities for our lawyers and staff, and we continue to do whatever we can to create a positive work environment. Ultimately, it’s all about providing our clients with top-quality legal services and, in order to do that, we have to have engaged, well-trained, and service-oriented lawyers and staff.”

Said Stikeman Elliott chairman Pierre Raymond, “Stikeman Elliott is honoured to be recognized as a Canadian leader for our achievements in attracting and retaining our firm members.

Each and every day the members of our firm give their full commitment to our clients, and in appreciation of their dedication and talent we strive to be on the forefront of HR, compensation and benefits, staff camaraderie, and corporate social responsibility, while at the same time providing challenging and interesting work and best in class training.”

Fraser Milner Casgrain LLP has acquired banking specialists Jane Bogaty and Jean-Sébastien Dugas as partners to the firm’s Montreal office.

“FMC’s financial services group is one of the largest at any major Canadian law firm and is recognized as a leader in the financial services sector,” said office managing partner Claude Morency in a release.

“Ms. Bogaty and Mr. Dugas will build on this stellar reputation through their broad knowledge and wealth of experience in the industry. By increasing the strength of our banking and financial services practice, FMC further positions itself as a leader for mandates arising out of the current financial situation.”

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