The TRU Society of Law Students held a two day conference February 8th and 9th, on the theme of access to justice.
Friday’s session was held in the law library of the Old Main Building and included presentations from The Kamloops & District Elizabeth Fry Society, TRU Community Legal Clinic and TRU law students.
The conference also included an access to justice panel, which was led by Bryant Mackey and Brian Samuels. The lawyers presented and explored a case involving Cameron Ward, whom Samuels noted to be a notable civil rights lawyer.
Addressing policy, Mackey said this particular case was very important.
“When word came out about the court’s decision, they [the supreme court] said this will be the most important decision under the charter in decades — a huge move towards access to justice,” Mackey said.
Following the panel session, the conference featured a presentation and question and answer session led by Attorney General David Eby.
Eby acknowledged the conference’s theme, but briefly mentioned the issue of gambling and transnational money laundering in B.C. casinos.
“At the briefing I felt like an amateur UFO enthusiast-we knew something was going on and we were suspicious, but we had no idea it was that big,” Eby said.
On the topic of access to justice, Eby also mentioned that recommendations were proposed to the government by concerned citizens, including TRU students, on the subject of human rights.
“One of the main priorities of our government is to implement the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission,” Eby said.
Eby also acknowledged inequality present in the funding of legal aid, child care, housing and health issues.
“Addressing mental health and addiction will also provide access to justice,” Eby said.
He also stated that the government is very concerned about acknowledging the existence of the First Nation people.
“One of the key themes [in access to justice] is that indigenous people have to be partners in the work we are doing,” Eby said.
Eby admitted that the government is well aware of the underfunding of family and criminal law and said they are working closely with the Law Society of B.C. and the Canadian Bar Association to get the resources necessary to address issue.
“It won’t happen overnight,” he said.
TRU faculty of law aims to improve the access to justice in British Columbia and this year’s conference was another initiative to reach that goal.
“It is very important for the judiciary bench to reflect the diversity of the community,” Eby said acknowledging the importance of representation in attaining justice.