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Advocates in Action


As part of our mission to be a voice for advocates, The Advocates' Society ("TAS") seeks to improve access to justice, promotes diversity and inclusion, protects judicial independence, and makes submissions on matters of significance to the legal profession. Advocates in Action is here to keep our members informed about and engaged with TAS’s important advocacy work.    

In this issue, read about:
  • TAS’s support for institutional bilingualism at the Supreme Court, with cautions to the government regarding active management of the impacts
  • Canadian courts’ encouragement of increased advocacy opportunities for junior counsel
Want to learn more? The Advocacy menu tab at provides links to other initiatives we are pursuing.
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TAS Supports Institutional Bilingualism at the Supreme Court of Canada, with Cautions as to Impacts

Bill C-13, An Act for the Substantive Equality of Canada’s Official Languages, proposes to amend Canada’s Official Languages Act to require judges of the Supreme Court of Canada who hear proceedings in English, French, or both, to understand the proceedings without the assistance of an interpreter. This amendment would require the Supreme Court to become institutionally bilingual, like other federal courts. While not requiring every judge appointed to the Supreme Court to be bilingual, this amendment would prohibit unilingual judges from sitting on cases in which the official language they do not speak is being used.

TAS has made a submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Official Languages and the Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages regarding Bill C-13, supporting the requirement for the Supreme Court to be institutionally bilingual; however, TAS also raised concerns about the issues created by the amendment for the size of the Court’s panels deciding French-language appeals, for the Court’s representativeness of the diverse Canadian society it serves, and for reconciliation with Indigenous peoples in the justice system.

TAS recommended that the government actively consider measures – legislative or otherwise – to ensure that the proposed amendment does not negatively impact these other important priorities for the Supreme Court’s composition and functioning.

Read TAS’s submission, dated October 19, 2022, in English or in French.
Read Bill C-13 here.
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Courts across Canada Encouraging More Advocacy Opportunities for Junior Counsel
In November 2020, TAS’s former B.C. Regional Advisory Committee Chair and now the Honourable Justice Simon Coval, wrote to the B.C. Supreme Court’s Civil Law Committee to seek the Court’s support for senior members of the bar to provide less experienced counsel with more opportunities to develop their advocacy skills. Further to this request, the Honourable Chief Justice Hinkson wrote a letter encouraging the active involvement of counsel with fewer years at the bar in trials and other proceedings, observing that the development of counsel’s advocacy skills is essential to the proper functioning of the Court’s process. Read TAS's letter, dated November 16, 2020, here. Read Chief Justice Hinkson's letter, dated March 1, 2021, here.

Other courts across Canada have also taken up the call to foster an environment that encourages junior counsel to participate in hearings.
The Court of Appeal for Ontario released a Statement from the Chief Justice of Ontario and the Associate Chief Justice of Ontario Regarding Submissions from Counsel, welcoming the chance to hear from newer counsel and all members of a Bar that is increasingly reflective of the diversity of Ontario. Read the Court of Appeal for Ontario’s statement here.
The Alberta Court of King’s Bench released an announcement regarding Submissions from Junior Counsel at the Court of King’s Bench, encouraging the practice of senior counsel sharing a portion of oral argument with more junior counsel. Read the statement of the Alberta Court of King’s Bench here.
TAS is committed to developing a diverse and inclusive community of advocates who aspire to excellence in all aspects of the profession. We believe it is crucial for junior counsel and counsel from communities that are underrepresented in the legal profession to have opportunities to enhance their advocacy skills in the courtroom. These opportunities are essential to the development of the next generation of advocates, the fostering of greater diversity and inclusion within our profession, and the promotion of access to justice and continued public confidence in a justice system whose members are representative of our Canadian society. We are grateful for the support of the courts across the country in encouraging these opportunities.
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