A few posts ago, I talked about how important face-to-face (in person) consultation is to the LCO. Today I'll provide some examples of actual recent consultations relating to particular projects. This doesn't mean that we're opposed to using technology to extend our consultations (in fact, we are looking at getting software to help us do exactly that), but we'll continue with the old-fashioned kind. The consultations I'll mention relate to our projects on the Provincial Offences Act and with respect to persons with disabilities.
We have begun our consultation paper on the POA – it will help us decide exactly what we need to encompass in this project; we can't do everything in one fell swoop, but we do want to make the project as helpful as possible. So our head of project, Mark Schofield (he happens to be our Ministry of the Attorney General Counsel in Residence), has had preliminary discussions with a wide range of actors, just for the purpose of the consultation paper. Once the paper is released, we'll undertake a full consultation process, beginning sometime in the fall.
Some of the people Mark has talked to, in person or on the phone, are recognized experts in the POA, such as Justice Rick Libman (who writes a loose-leaf reporter on regulatory offences); Kenneth Jull (who proposed the project initially and has written a text); and John Swaigen (author of books on environmental rights and regulatory offences). We are concerned to ensure that the municipalities have their say, given their role in prosecuting offences, among other things; so far Mark has talked to David Potts (City Solicitor for Oshawa and Chair of Municipal Law Section of OBA) and to representatives of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario; the Municipal Court Managers Association of Ontario; and the Association of Municipal Managers, Clerks and Treasurers of Ontario. We keep in touch with the government on our projects, to the extent possible, and recognizing our role as an independent law reform body; that includes Sheilagh Stewart (at the Ministry of the Attorney General, she also has written a book on the POA) and Jeremy Griggs (the Chair of the MAG Streamlining Review), as well as people from the Ministries of Environment, Transportation and Labour. And not least, of course, Mark has met with representatives of the Criminal Law Association; the Paralegal Association; and the Prosecutors Association of Ontario. No doubt these people and organizations will have more to say as we proceed with the substance of the project, as will others.
Lauren Bates has been meeting with groups with an interest in our project on developing a coherent approach to the law as it affects persons with disabilities, but at a different stage of that project, compared to Mark's consultations on the POA. We are releasing our first consultation paper in this project on Friday (July 3rd) and so this is really the beginning of the next stage of the project. Last week, she met with ARCH (the disabilities legal clinic); the Learning Disabilities Association of Ontario; the Ontario Human Rights Commission;the Psychiatric Patient Advocacy Office; the HIV-AIDs Legal Clinic; and the Ontario Association of Community Care Access Centres. Just a start.
This gives just a glimpse into the kinds of persons and organizations with whom we are engaged in consultation, professional and community-based groups. One last note, in case you know anyone who is interested: we are looking for someone to help us with our consultations, a Community Outreach Coordinator, with the goal of extending our reach across the province and towards an even broader range of organizations and groups. (The ad should be on our website tomorrow.)