The Power of Perspectives

The Canadian Bar Association

Kim Covert

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A game-changing year for assisted suicide?

By Kim Covert January 9, 2014 9 January 2014

2014 is shaping up to be a big year for the debate over assisted suicide.

In Belgium, euthanasia opponents are up in arms over the idea that terminally ill children might be allowed to decide when they’ve had enough. The senate in Belgium, which has allowed euthanasia since 2002, voted in favour of lifting age restrictions in December. Parliament’s lower house must still give its approval.

"Rarely - but it happens - there are children we try to treat but there is nothing we can do to make them better. Those children must have the right to decide about their own end of life," Dr. Gerlant van Berlaer, a pediatrician at Ziekenhuis University, told the BBC.

In Quebec, where an Environics poll suggests support for euthanasia is 79 per cent, a committee of the National Assembly will continue to study Bill 52, the Act Respecting End of Life Care, which was introduced last June.

Read more after the jump.

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Accountants and the future of the legal profession

By Kim Covert January 7, 2014 7 January 2014

In the next year or so, accountants in England and Wales could be entering the probate market.

The Legal Services Board recommended in December that members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales be allowed to take on probate work. If the Lord Chancellor and the British Parliament approve the recommendation, reports say it could take effect later this year, or in 2015.

This step “will enable firms to offer a more integrated service to clients who, in non-contentious cases, will be able to use a single adviser which in turn should have an impact on the overall cost of the service for consumers and increase competition,” David Edmonds, chair of oversight regulator the Legal Services Board, said in a speech last month.

Read more after the jump

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In Europe, legalizing prostitution brings new problems

By Kim Covert December 19, 2013 19 December 2013

A Supreme Court of Canada decision on the country’s prostitution laws, to be handed down tomorrow, could, in the words of one observer, put the high court on the “right side” of history, but it’s safe to say that however it rules, it will come down on somebody’s wrong side.

The Court has been asked to rule on whether bans on street solicitation, pimps and brothels puts women at risk, and therefore violates their Charter right to security from unwarranted intrusion by the justice system.

One side argues that the current laws put sex-workers at greater risk; the other side argues that removing the laws will put sex-workers at greater risk. And both sides are probably right, to a certain extent.

So what is to be done?

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Tough on crime, tougher on society

By Kim Covert December 17, 2013 17 December 2013

Give a man a fish, the saying goes, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

What do you suppose the long-term outcome is for a criminal whose prison experience can be read as a study of a government not wanting a fella to get ahead?

Tough-on-crime legislation is putting more people in jail and keeping them there longer, while at the same time federal budget cuts are resulting in cancellation of training and work programs that gave inmates skills and income. Prisoners at institutions across Canada went on strike in October to protest further clawbacks of their meagre incomes – an average of $3 a day, or $1,095 a year – which they use to buy things like toiletries and stamps because the government no longer provides the essentials to them.

And then there are victims’ surcharges: Justice Minister Peter MacKay said this week that offenders should be prepared to sell their belongings in order to pay them.

(Read more after the jump)                                         

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Is it slander if you don't use 'that word'?

By Kim Covert December 12, 2013 12 December 2013

Former media baron Conrad Black is known for his facility with the English language and his love of multi-syllabic words, so here’s one for him: disingenuous.

Disingenuous: adj. insincere; lacking in frankness or honesty.

Far more people have likely read about Black’s interview with Toronto Mayor Rob Ford than watched it on his Vision TV program, The Zoomer – it was hard to miss the headlines, like this one from The Huffington Post: Rob Ford Outrageously Suggests Toronto Star Reporter Daniel Dale is a Pedophile.

Black has been known to castigate reporters for not doing their research and getting their facts straight; and he’s also known for doing exhaustive research in his own writing. So his dismissal of the suggestion that it was his duty to find out whether Ford’s allegation against a reporter had any basis in fact is nothing less than disingenuous.

(Read more after the jump)

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