By Ola Malik
Welcome to the start of another CBA membership year!
I am delighted to have stepped into the role of CBA Alberta Branch President at the beginning of September. Please join me in welcoming the entire CBA Alberta Branch Executive Committee - Vice President David Hiebert, Treasurer Bianca Kratt, Secretary Amanda Lindberg, Past President Frank Friesacher and Executive Director Maureen Armitage.
When our CBA membership ratified the new CBA governance structure at our AGM in February, our members voted for much more than just new bylaws – they voted for a forward-looking culture, one that is inclusive, transparent, democratic, and participatory. With those changes, we will see a wave of young, diverse leaders emerge who will steer the CBA in a new direction, towards the future. Bringing new members into our organization is critical for our continued growth and vitality, and I’m looking forward to welcoming the new eight members to the new CBA Alberta Branch Board of Directors to the team.
In the coming months, we will be introducing new ways for CBA Alberta members to engage with the Branch, including our upcoming Annual General Meeting and Leadership Forum taking place in the first half of 2020. We look forward to seeing you there!
So far, it’s been a busy year.
On a blustery day in September, I joined the CBA in its first-ever participation in Calgary’s Pride March with a banner reading “Justice for All”. The CBA was joined in the parade by a number of other private law firm as well, so we had great company. Our thanks to Cassidy Thompson, Colin Flynn and Michael McLaws for organizing the CBA’s entry and participation.
The second annual Alberta Access to Justice Week wrapped up at the beginning of October. Throughout the week, the CBA promoted access to justice events in Calgary and Edmonton, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, and at the University of Alberta. Our Access to Justice Committee co-chairs Dr. Anna Lund and Tim Patterson and all the members of the Access to Justice Week sub-committee did amazing work organizing this important event. You can read blog posts from Alberta's many justice-serving organizations, as well as a recap of the whole week from co-chair Dr. Lund on the Access to Justice Week website at www.albertaaccesstojustice.com.
With a new provincial budget and a Federal election, the CBA’s advocacy is focused on the need to properly resource the justice sector. Governments’ spending on the justice sector is a measly pittance, accounting for approximately only 1% of most governments’ budgets – and that’s when times are good! When times are bad, governments cut back on spending in the justice sector, often with the argument that the justice sector isn’t an essential service, unlike spending on health care. But spending on the justice sector IS spending on health care, because we know that providing people with access to legal services avoids the $800 million governments spend a year on health care or social assistance for people whose unmet legal needs have snowballed into other, more serious, issues. If only they called us doctors!!!
Now that the new year has begun, I remind all CBA members to ensure that your CBA dues are up to date and that you have renewed your Section memberships for another year. We offer nearly 70 Sections between Calgary and Edmonton, which are the primary channel through which professional development is delivered at CBA Alberta.
If you are active in Sections or other CBA professional development activities, I also encourage you to consider purchasing a Portfolio or Portfolio Plus package. These packages give you up to three complimentary materials-level Section memberships, education credits to use towards the purchase of Section memberships or other PD activities, and a rebate off next year's membership fee based on your total spend throughout the year. More information about your CBA membership, including details on the Portfolio and Portfolio Plus packages are available on our website.
I look forward to speaking with as many of you as I can during my President’s year. If you see me at an event, please come up and say hello – I’d love to meet you! If there’s anything you’d like to share with me about your thoughts on your experience with the CBA, about what we do well, what we could work on, or how you can get involved, please call, or e-mail me. I hope to hear from you.