StopSOP/FullStop campaign implicitly denies systemic racism within legal profession: statement
The Canadian Association of Black Lawyers, the Canadian Muslim Lawyers Association, the Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers (Ontario) and the South Asian Bar Association (Toronto) have condemned the email sent by the “StopSOP/FullStop” campaign team on Apr. 15.
The email, titled “Join the #FullStop movement to restore the LSO” and sent to members of the Ontario bar, is inflammatory and inaccurate and contains divisive messaging, the organizations said in a joint statement released on Apr. 16.
The organizations expressed concerns that the “StopSOP/FullStop” campaign grossly mischaracterizes critical race theory; implicitly denies systemic racism within the legal profession; opposes equity, diversity and inclusion reform within the profession; and disparagingly describes the Law Society of Ontario’s equity, diversity and inclusion efforts as the “politicizing influence of extreme ‘woke’ ideology.”
The organization noted that this same team, back during the 2019 bencher election, managed to field a slate of candidates under the “StopSOP” campaign by invoking its concern about the effect of the law society’s statement of principles on the right to free expression. The email dated Apr. 15 contained “alarming” statements regarding the 2023 bencher election and expressed the team’s intent to field a slate of candidates under the “Full Stop” campaign to halt the law society’s initiatives to deal with the obstacles encountered by racialized licensees, the organizations said.
“Systemic racism is a lived reality for many lawyers, and EDI reforms are an important part of the change needed,” said the joint statement of the organizations.
The organizations said that the law society, as a regulator, is responsible under its public interest mandate to aim toward improved equity, diversity and inclusion, and that lawyers, as service providers and/or as employers under Ontario’s Human Rights Code, have certain duties to the public, including helping to prevent and eliminate discrimination.
The organization urged lawyers to abide by the values of the Human Rights Code, to unite with the goal of achieving their shared professional commitments and to heed the voices and concerns of numerous racialized lawyers.
“We believe that now is a time for unity, for awareness, and for healing as a profession,” said the joint statement.