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Archive for February, 2008

Omar Ha-Redeye at 17th BLSAC Conference

Omar Ha-Redeye at 17th BLSAC Conference

The 17th Annual BLSAC National Conference was held in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada from February 22-23, 2008.

The theme this year was Looking Forward, Looking Back: Black Canadian Achievements in Law.  The conference brought together students, academics, and legal professionals of diverse backgrounds to recognize past achievements and address present concerns of Black Canadians.

Peter W. Hogg spoke at the Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP luncheon on the Charter dialogueAs of 2003, Peter Hogg was cited by the Supreme Court of Canada 166 times.

Hogg is frequently quoted in defence of the Charter which does not, as some detractors concerned about judicial activism charge, leave judges with the final say on legal issues.

He also responded to critics who have commented on his Charter dialogue theory.

This year featured the inaugural event of the Koskie Minsky LLP Diversity Moot. Another major firm, McCarthy Tétrault LLP, hosted a reception at their Vancouver office for the law students that arrived from across the country.  Finally, a gala reception closed off the event, hosted by Fraser Milner Casgrain LLP.

Steven PointThe welcome address was presented by Raphael Tachie (2007/2008 President, Black Law Students’ Association of Canada), followed by an Aboriginal welcome and an opening address by The Honorable Steven L. Point – Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia.

Arleen Huggins of Koskie Minsky LLP, spoke on “A Business Case for diversity.”  She said that successful firms are recognizing that their clients are increasingly diverse, and have expectations for firms to reflect the diversity of Canada.  It also provides fresh bases for client development.

Omar Ha-Redeye added that diversity also brings a competitive edge to firms adventurous enough to incorporate diversity because it avoids group think and fosters creativity.

Gail Robinson and Kathleen Dechant said in The Academy of Management Executive,

A phenomenal surge in the growth of emerging markets, extensive use of cross-functional, heterogeneous teams to produce creative solutions to business problems, an increased reliance on non-traditional workforce talent – the realities of today’s workplace clearly demonstrate that diversity management has become a critical aspect of operating a business.

A lunch panel discussed whether having minority judges on the bench make a difference.  Speakers included Justice Selwyn Romilly of the Supreme Court of British Columbia,  Justice Michael H. Tulloch of the Superior Court of Justice (Brampton), and  Justice Castor Williams of the Provincial Court (Nova Scotia).

The panel relied heavily on the late Bertha Wilson‘s material on a similar subject regarding women.

The intersecting barriers of race and gender were then discussed.  Often overlooked, even at this conference, is that minority males are typically more disadvantaged than minority females in the workplace.

A number of concurrent sessions also provided resources for law students searching for summer and articling positions, insights for high school students about what legal life was like, and advice for undergrads on how to enter law.

The conference ended on a positive note with the election of a new executive for the upcoming year.

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Omar Ha-Redeye responded to Raheel Raza’s article, Endlessly Divisible Canada, in the Toronto Star.

He added to his comments saying,

Unfortunately people like Mrs. Raza suffer from severe inferiority complexes when dealing with the larger Canadian society.

As immigrants to Canada from societies that have failed to develop pluralism and acceptance, they have difficulty fathoming the incredible success we’ve had with multiculturalism in Canada.

Detractors for civil rights advancements fostered from within marginalized communities is an old and effective tactic. The naiveté of these people unwittingly make them pawns of totalitarian and intolerant ideologies, as witnessed by the other responses to her piece.

Canada has a unique history of trying to resolve existing divisions between Protestant English, French Catholic and First Nation communities since the time of Confederation. This challenge has forced us to adopt a more nuanced and inclusive concept of Canadian identity, rather than the melting pot of our southern neighbours.

As a result, we’ve avoided or minimized some of the worst atrocities witnessed in nations demanding total uniformity within their borders. Canada is not without our challenges, but we’re better off than many others in the global community.

Perhaps it’s also important to remember that without the Multiculturalism Act and the abolishment of the Continuous Journey Regulation (1908) prior to it, people like Raheel Raza would never have been welcomed into Canada to begin with.

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