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Law Day Highlights Access to Justice

Springtime is almost here and for those interested in spreading the word about access to justice this means planning for Law Day 2011 on April 14th.

Law Day is an annual event organized by the Canadian Bar Association that is made possible through the volunteer efforts of hundreds of individuals across the country who donate their time to this worthwhile event. Law Day takes various forms in different provinces and locations across the country however each event shares the common goal of engaging the public and educating them about the law and legal system.

Events this year are slated for communities from across the country ranging from Vancouver to Saint John. Importantly, many Law Day events are also scheduled for smaller centres, rural communities and outlying areas such as Fort St. John in British Columbia and Drumheller in Alberta. I am personally encouraged to see Law Day events in communities outside of major provincial urban centres as engagement with the public in these communities is integral to ensuring that all citizens of Canada are educated about the justice system and that access to justice is equal for all people, no matter where they choose to reside.

Fittingly the theme for Law Day this year is access to justice and events will seek to highlight current justice issues and educate the public on how they can access their justice system. Access is a timely issue for Law Day to highlight given the recent comments of Chief Justice Beverly McLachlin who received wide press coverage when she told a University of Toronto Conference audience,that “We have wonderful justice for corporations and for the wealthy. But the middle class and the poor may not be able to access our justice system.”

Law Day is less an occasion to focus on the shortfalls of our system however, and is more an opportunity to engage the public on the often poorly understood subject of the Canadian legal system. It is also an opportunity to celebrate the successful aspects of the system that we do have and to take part in an enjoyable community event. I have personally been involved in a number of Law Day Events, the most memorable of which occurred as a judge in a mock trial where, to the cheers of a gallery full of parents, I delivered a sentence of a 72 hour cellular telephone prohibition to a troop of very unhappy girl guides.

For those unfamiliar with Law Day I encourage you visit the website for further information.

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