Alberta Lawyers Fight Compulsory Professional Development Training of ‘Political and Cultural’ Nature

A group of 50 Alberta lawyers will hold a special meeting to challenge new rules that allow the Alberta Bar Association (LSA) to dictate the professional development courses that lawyers must take was forced to

Lawyers called for members to vote on Rule 67.4, a new rule that would allow the LSA to impose certain courses as part of its mandatory professional development training. Attorneys will vote on the rules at the February 6th meeting.

But even if a majority of lawyers voted to repeal the rule, the vote would not be binding on LSA’s ventures, but merely a recommendation, said Calgary attorney Glenn Blackett.

The first LSA-mandated course, “The Path,” is a five-module online course on “The History and Contemporary Realities of Canada’s First Nations, Inuit, and Métis.”

A lawyer who spoke to The Epoch Times said a key issue was professional autonomy.

Blackett said lawyers should be able to choose which professional development courses will benefit them most, depending on their particular practice or area of ​​expertise.

While some attorneys may have “firm political reasons” to object to Rule 67.4, Blackett notes that bar law requires LSAs to “mandatory certain courses for continuing professional development.” It suggests that you may not give “permissions”. Attorneys have been disciplined for misconduct or ethics violations.

Blackett said it was simply a coincidence that the first required professional development course for the state’s approximately 11,000 attorneys was “cultural training.” Originally voluntary, it became a mandatory requirement on October 1, 2020.

According to Elizabeth J. Osler, KC, Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director of the LSA, the issue to be debated is to mandate “specific professional development activities for Alberta attorneys in the public interest.” It is the “authority” of the association.

“We are committed to ensuring a fair and transparent special meeting format,” said Osler.

“We needed 9,769 active lawyers to complete The Path by the original deadline,” she added. “Of those, only 26 lawyers received administrative sanctions for failing to meet the requirements and were included in the public notice to the profession. As of today, only eight of these lawyers have I remain suspended.”

Ann Information page On the LSA website, The Path says it aligns with its 2020-2024 strategic plan, which makes “equity, diversity and inclusion” part of society’s strategic goals.

The LSA says “indigenous cultural competencies” is one area where it “appropriate for the bar association to mandate education.”


According to an email thread of 50 petition signers shared by The Epoch Times, several attorneys determined that The Path was “cultural and political” in nature.

“It was difficult to find legal elements in the course,” said one lawyer. The individual said that giving the LSA powers to force members to “accept cultural teachings could be abused.”

Cold Lake constitutional attorney Leighton Gray issued a statement to The Epoch Times, saying the LSA’s implementation of Rule 67.4 was based on “political ideology.”

Gray, whose great-grandfather was chief of the Carey Kettle Band and who has represented thousands of indigenous people in his 30 years of law practice, said he completed The Path.

“We found inaccuracies pervasive and distorted by the postmodernist history of Canada’s indigenous peoples,” he said.

Blackett also said he found the first LSA-mandated training courses “extremely offensive” and “political indoctrination.”

He said the LSA had fallen victim to “a brand of awakening called ‘decolonization'”, which he said was due to “Canada’s historic relationship with Indigenous communities has been largely characterized by racism and genocide.” It is one, and an evil that somehow remains in Canadian law and legal structures.”

He gave examples of content that he found troubling.

Part of The Path refers to the death of Colton Boushie, a 22-year-old Cree man who was shot dead in the countryside. Saskatchewan A farm by its owner, Gerald Stanley. A jury found Stanley not guilty of second-degree murder or manslaughter in the case.

The verdict “provoked outrage and anxiety across Canada,” reads The Path. “These and other events have exposed racism, discrimination, injustice and inequality embedded in Canadian laws, policies and structures.”

“‘Innocent until proven guilty’ is a fundamental legal principle,” Blackett said.

Part of the pass instructs lawyers to treat their Indigenous clients with care, focusing on “intergenerational trauma” rather than “current conditions,” he said.

He said parts of The Path appear to be attacking the Canadian national anthem. “And when you sing that Canada is our home and home, are you really celebrating our Indigenous past?”

Another example from The Path pointed out by Blackett says: And nowhere is that more evident than in the Canadian judicial system’s treatment of indigenous peoples. It’s obvious when you look at all the numbers. Indigenous people make up about 5% of Canada’s population, but make up her 27% of the prison population. The number of Indigenous women in federal custody has increased by more than 75 percent over the past decade. ”

“Correlation is not causation. It also challenges the very legitimacy of the justice system,” Blackett said.

The Path is a third-party course created by the Nvision Insight Group, which calls itself “Canada’s Leading Aboriginal Consulting Firm”.

According to it, it is mostly owned by indigenous peoples. website.

Compulsory program

Roger Song, the Calgary attorney who initiated the petition, told the Epoch Times that he opposes the legal community dictating which courses will be required.

“The LSA has empowered itself to impose compulsory education in the manner, form, and time frame determined by the venture,” Song said.

“Your license to earn a living can be automatically suspended without a hearing,” he said.

Song says the problem for him is that the LSA mandates programs that affect professional autonomy. He is also particularly concerned with the way the new rules were introduced.

The LSA first submitted a motion to mandate Indigenous cultural competence training for all active members at its Ventures Conference on October 1, 2020.

Two months later, according to Mr Song, a motion was filed to adopt Rule 67.4, giving the LSA the power to “mandate Indigenous education programs and other education programs. It shall, at its discretion, determine for all attorneys under the law to apply automatic suspension penalties and rely on R 67.4 to suspend attorneys if they fail to undergo Indigenous cultural competence training. did,” he said.

“It’s illegal to do this legally,” Song said.

On January 31st, the venture letter To State Attorneys Asking Members to Vote Against Objections to Rule 67.4.

The letter stated that the LSA “has no plans for any other enforcement program like The Path,” which was mandated “in accordance with the findings and recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.”

Venture said the rule “serves the public interest.”

In November 2023, the LSA will hold a venture election. Blackett suggests that lawyers who oppose the legal system being altered by regulatory forces to influence the perceptions and behavior of lawyers should run for election.