MIKE SADAVA EDMONTON
Is Google too suggestive
for French law?
Culture and the
Alberta Legal Aid (ALA) is
walking a fine line between coping
with a major budget cut and trying
to ensure that Albertans are not
denied access to justice.
Six months ago ALA boosted
its requirements for receiving a
certificate for full representation
so that the cutoff point for an individual net income dropped by 30
per cent, from $21,000 to $14,700.
That change, giving wealthy
Alberta one of the lowest income
cutoff points in Canada, has drawn
the ire of the Alberta Criminal
Trial Lawyers Association. It has
also sparked action by the Law
Society of Alberta following its
Benchers’ meeting in September.
The tougher requirements
were introduced after ALA
experienced an 8. 4 per cent drop
in its budget, going to $59 million from $64.4 million.
While government funding
was stagnant, money received
from the Alberta Law Foundation
fell drastically, to $1.1 million
from $14.4 million. The foundation generates income from the
flow of interest on trust accounts
in law firms, which has dried up
because of low interest rates and
the slow market in residential and
commercial real estate. ALA is
using reserve funds to keep its
budget from dropping even more.
Although they don’t believe the
numbers are great, “there are
people who are being forced to
represent themselves…,” said
Jacquie Schaffter, CEO of ALA.
There is a backstop in court-ordered legal aid if a judge determines that representation is essential for a fair trial, but Schaffter
says she is not aware of a big
See Alberta Page 24
testing comes under fire
Vancouver’s Gil McKinnon says strong dissents at the Supreme Court of Canada pave the way for future recognition of
an expanded right to counsel during police interrogations.
ALISTAIR EAGLE FOR THE LAWYERS WEEKLY
See story on page 2
New HST a headache
for real estate lawyers
Barreau makes recommendations on judicial nominations
LUIS MILLAN MONTREAL
Concerned that the public’s
confidence in the justice system
has been shaken by testimony
before the Bastarache Commission, the Barreau du Québec recommends overhauling the judicial appointment system by
bolstering disclosure requirements to enhance accountability
and transparency, revamping
the judicial selection committee,
and constraining the discretionary powers of the minister of
justice by compelling him to
select from a short and ranked
list of candidates.
Yet in spite of issuing a series
of wide-ranging recommenda-
tions in a 42-page report enti-
tled “Preserving Confidence,” the
law society forcefully maintains
that Quebec’s current system of
judicial appointments is sound
and “one of the best in the West-
ern world,” even though the pub-
lic may be under the impression
the nomination system is tainted
by undue partisan influence.
Former musician turned
lawyer to the stars
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