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Quite a year

Editorial Obiter

Thanks to the tech-heavy age in which we live, events seem to transpire at super-speed.

That’s why, when we examine issues that have transpired in 2018, some can feel like they happened eons ago.

Looking at the legal battle between Toronto and the Ontario government over the size of city council, for example, it felt like there was momentous movement on the issue over the summer and fall, before coming to a dramatic conclusion in the lead-up to the municipal election in Toronto on Oct. 22.

The election of Doug Ford as premier of Ontario also led to changes to provincial labour laws. One of the most massive legal shifts of the year also arrived this fall with the Canada-wide legalization of recreational marijuana.

“This whole change in the law is really a game changer for all kinds of expectations and ways that society is going to look at and treat people and corporations and the government,” says Marvin Huberman, a Toronto mediator and lawyer.

There’s also the way legal education is being handled — such as the recent refusal by Ontario to approve funding for a proposed law school at Ryerson University. There are ongoing issues that have plagued Lakehead University’s Bora Laskin Faculty of Law, including a lawsuit filed by its former dean, Angelique EagleWoman, for more than $2.6 million for alleged constructive dismissal and employment discrimination.

Other top newsmakers focused on changes at the Law Society of Ontario, concerning the good character requirement and the way mental health issues are recognized in the discipline process of lawyers.

One of Law Times’ columnists, Doron Gold, says that when it comes to progress by regulators regarding mental health, “the direction is changing, but very, very slowly.”

When you’re standing close to change, it’s difficult to discern the minuscule adjustments from the all-encompassing transformations. It’s fair to say that of the many top stories this year, many will leave an indelible mark on the legal framework of the province and country, thereby affecting all lawyers.

Law Times Poll

Ontario Premier Doug Ford has announced that real estate lawyer Doug Downey will be Ontario’s new attorney general. Do you expect Downey to take a substantially different approach to his portfolio than his predecessor in the role?