This is a first I think. As reported in the Globe and Mail, the government took the unusal step of complaining to the Law Society of Upper Canada, the regulatory body governing Ontario lawyers. The complaint was against a Toronto Immigration Lawyer for allegedly engaging in professional misconduct for claiming that the government gave special treatment to Conrad Black in processing his Temporary Resident Permit.
The lawyer in question is my colleague Guidy Mamman, a reputable well known immigration lawyer in Toronto. I have known Guidy for many years. He is a tireless and outspoken advocate for the right of immigrants. I have always admired his fearlessness when it comes to confronting the government and its policies.
The issue at hand had to do with Conrad Black and whether the government gave him special treatment in allowing him to enter Canada despite his criminal record. I have been interviewed by the CBC about this very topic . My take is that as far as I know, there is no such evidence of special treatment and that TRPs are adjudicated on a case by case basis. But that is not the point here.
We live in a free society and the fact that our elected government launched such a complaint because they did not like what a given lawyer may have been saying scares the hell out of me. Freedom of speech is a keystone of any free society. The government, using the Law Society as a tool to silence a private citizen, threatening his livelihood is extremely concerning.
The Law Society receives complaints from the general public daily. This is a good thing. Lawyers should be regulated. The public needs to be protected against lawyers who engage in real professional misconduct. What the public does not need is the all powerful government trying to silence citizens and businesses.
This incident should give not only Canadian lawyers pause but make us think twice about value we place on freedom of expression. I have spoken out against Minister Kenney and what I consider draconian immigration policies in the past and I will continue to do so. Perhaps I will receive a complaint from the Law Society. If I do, I will make it public like Mr. Mamman. That is our only defence.
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