The dust has settled on another Ontario Bencher election, but it seems that most lawyers in Ontario barely noticed.
Only 34% of eligible voters exercised their franchise in the easiest, most convenient Bencher election in history; log into the website, then click on candidate names – done in 90 seconds.
Even so, 66 percent of voters thumbed their noses at the entire process – they couldn’t be bothered to vote for even one candidate.
To anyone paying attention, the message is clear:
The vast majority of Ontario lawyers don’t care who is elected as a Bencher.
And the vast majority of lawyers have been sending this same message for decades.
In 2011, 37% of eligible voters voted, causing some to rejoice that the steadily declining voter turn-out was finally ticking upward; it seemed that voter turnout had hit rock bottom in 2007 at 34.5% and was now bouncing happily upwards.
However, it seems 2011 was merely an aberration, and the steady decline in voter interest continues.
The charts at the end of this post were prepared from data found in the Law Society of Upper Canada’s 2011 Election Results and Voter Turn-out Statistics. The 2015 numbers are estimated and will be verified by LSUC in June, 2015.
Given this evidence, it’s not a stretch to conclude that the vast majority of lawyers in Ontario no longer care about self-regulation.
If they did, wouldn’t they vote for those who regulate and discipline them?
How else do you explain such consistent apathy?
But even if we’re not willing to go that far, it’s clear that the vast majority of lawyers are comfortable allowing someone other than themselves to select Benchers.
So why not just have the Attorney General appoint lawyers as Benchers?
That would instantly create the diversity that so many Benchers claim to be in favour of.
Many voters have suggested that the Bencher voting was difficult because there were too many candidates for too many positions – all the more reason to move to a smaller, appointed Convocation.
Isn’t it time that the Law Society listened to the message being sent from the majority of lawyers in this province?