Chers Colleagues

Je suis très heureuse de pouvoir m’adresser au Conseil de la Division de votre province. Mon français est faible. Je fais des efforts, et j’en ferai encore. Je sais qu’il est très important que la Présidente puisse s’exprimer en français.

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This year will be my 30th year as a CBA member. My very first CBA annual meeting was in Montreal in 1988. As of this past summer in St. John’s, Newfoundland, I have attended 23 out of 26 CBA Annual Meetings. So when people ask me why I am seeking the position of 2nd Vice President, for me it is a natural progression of a career long commitment to my professional association.

The CBA has been an exceptional experience for me. I became a member in my first days of law school and was an active participant of a Branch Committee by third year. I went to Montreal for my first annual meeting when I was an articled student.

For me the CBA has played a pivotal role in my career development. I had some remarkable opportunities come before me – I was invited to be the Secretary of the BC Branch Immigration law section in my first year of practice. Four years later, I was the Chair of the National Immigration law section. The CBA provided me with a platform to develop my career – I was given the opportunity to learn, grow and excel in my practice area. I share this with you because I think that this is the type of message that we want to give to lawyers when we discuss membership. When we speak to lawyers about membership in the CBA and the benefits of membership, it is not about preferred car rental rates or other discounted services. Rather it is about the exceptional opportunity for career development, mentorship and learning that the CBA provides.

I have identified three primary issues that I intend to focus on: Membership, Government Relations and Diversity.

Membership: This organization must focus it’s attention on membership – nationally and provincially. It is essential.

As a former young lawyer and sole practitioner, I know only too well the cost of not only membership but also the cost of participating in national annual meetings. I also know firsthand of the extraordinary rewards of membership and more importantly of participation. Paying a membership fee merely makes you…a member. But if you want to experience the true value of your membership then you need to engage and participate. As we all know in this room – the rewards of CBA membership are considerable.

That is the task at hand – to lead by example and share with law students and young lawyers – who will be our members of the future – the tremendous value of being an active and participatory CBA member.

Government Relations are also significant to our ability to promote and enhance the fundamental principals that we stand for as lawyers: the rule of law, access to justice and human rights. We must maintain credible and meaningful relations with all levels of government in order to advance these essential principals.

Notre abilité a maintenir les relations ouvert et positif avec tous les niveaux des gouvernements: fédéral, provincial et territorrial – est très importante pour l’ABC d’avoir la capacité de faire des changements réels et des améliorations dans les lois du Canada pour la bénéfice de tous Canadiens.

Diversity in the Profession. As an immigration lawyer I live daily with Canada’s increasing diversity. We need, as an association, to reflect that diverse nature of our community both in our profession and in our association. We also need to inclusive of everyone in our communities.

The message that I would like to convey to our members is to encourage participation. I am a big believer in the principal that you get out of life what you put into it. The true value of the CBA comes from an enhanced level of participation within the organization and by engaging in the many opportunities for learning, mentoring, networking and career development.

We also need to present a strong an unified voice and this can be challenging when you are an organization made of a wide range of sections, committees, and forums across a diverse geographic expanse.

Democracy is not always easy! (Anyone who has attended a National Council meeting or watched Question Period knows that!) It is imperative that we work within the CBA family and come to mutually agreeable decisions and causes of action for the benefit of our organization and also for the benefit of Canada’s justice system.

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Merci beaucoup pour l’occasion de vous adresser ce matin. J’éspère d’avoir la chance de parler avec chacun de vous plus tard aujourd’hui et dans les mois a venir. Merci.