Celebrated Toronto Attorney Murray Klippenstein joins Charter challenge against the Law Society of Ontario as a co-applicant

Celebrated Toronto Attorney Murray Klippenstein joins Charter challenge against the Law Society of Ontario as a co-applicant

Mr. Klippenstein has practiced law for 30 years, founding his own law firm 20 years ago with a special focus on human rights issues and on working for disadvantaged individuals and communities. He was the lawyer who represented the family of aboriginal protestor Dudley George during the Ipperwash Inquiry, and was described by the Globe and Mail at the time as, “a litigation and organizational lawyer representing mainly Aboriginal governments, public interest environmental groups, non-profit housing co-operatives, and various other non-profit and community organizations.”

Mr. Klippenstein’s work has been recognized with important awards from groups such as prominent labour and Indigenous legal organizations, as well as by Osgoode Hall Law School as the 2006 recipient of the Dianne Martin Medal for Social Justice Through Law award. He has twice been named by Canadian Lawyer magazine as one of Canada’s “Top Twenty-Five Most Influential Lawyers” in its annual survey.

Mr. Klippenstein’s objection to the Statement of Principles

The Notice of Application has now been amended to add Mr. Klippenstein as a co-applicant. The Fresh as Amended Notice of Application can be found here.

Mr. Klippenstein believes the new Statement of Principles requirement is blatantly unconstitutional and contrary to the values he has championed and fought for his entire professional career in defence of fundamental rights. Mr. Klippenstein said:

“The Law Society’s attempt by force of law to compel myself and tens of thousands of lawyers to individually adopt a compulsory personal Statement of Principles, which advances a specific political viewpoint, is one of the most regressive developments I have seen in the profession of law and in Canada in my lifetime, because it attempts to force me to say and even to think things that they choose. I never imagined that such a deep invasion of personal freedom would happen here in Canada.”

Background on Statement of Principles

A September 2017 email to all lawyers and paralegals licensed by Ontario described this new mandatory requirement as follows:

“You will need to create and abide by an individual Statement of Principles that acknowledges your obligation to promote equality, diversity and inclusion generally, and in your behaviour towards colleagues, employees, clients and the public. You will be asked to report on the creation and implementation of a Statement of Principles in your 2017 Annual Report.”

Dr. Alford challenged the requirement as a violation of the Constitutional protection against compelled expression, infringement of conscience and thought, and as exceeding the Law Society’s statutory authority.

According to a Key Concepts page published on the Law Society website shortly after the Statement of Principles requirement was passed, “[t]he intention of the statement of principles is to demonstrate a personal valuing of equality, diversity, and inclusion with respect to the employment of others, or in professional dealings with other licensees or any other person.” This language was then amended and toned down after Dr. Alford brought his application.

The CCF announced, on November 6, 2017, that it was supporting Dr. Alford’s application.

Next steps

Dr. Alford and Mr. Klippenstein will now move forward with bringing their application before the court. In addition to the CCF, many individuals have supported the applicants through donations, and other individuals have stated that they wish to swear affidavits in support of the application. These affidavits and those of the applicants will soon be served and filed with the court.

Dr. Alford and Mr. Klippenstein are both grateful and heartened by the outpouring of support they have received from lawyers, paralegals and concerned citizens across the province. They remain committed to protecting the freedoms of all Ontario legal professionals.

For more information or to contribute to the application, please see theccf.ca/noforcedspeech

Read the original release here.