Page images
PDF
EPUB

designing, powerful and cruel interests as the one in which there are no lawyers. They have to do with the weightiest questions of life, liberty and property. In the business world employees deceive their principals, partners deceive each other, One set of shareholders conspire to wreck the interests of the other, husbands deceive their wives and wives their husbands. But lawyers, though possessing the business, domestic and other heart secrets of their clients, the disclosing of which would bring disaster, have never been known to sell their clients. With it all they are the poorest paid class in the community. Chief Justice Brewer of the United States Supreme Court said the history of lawyers is to work hard, live well and die poor.

LAWYERS BROUGHT TOGETHER BY THE ASSOCIATION.

One of the objects of the Ontario Bar Association is to bring lawyers together for sociability as well as the discusSion of subjects of interest to the profession. Never has there been a time when so many members of the legal profession gathered together and at such frequent intervals, never has there been a time when the members throughout the Province generally were so well acquainted with each other, never has there been a time when so much discussion has taken place on subjects of such great importance, never has there been a time when the members of the profession have had the advantage of listening to so many interesting and useful papers prepared and delivered by lawyers and Judges of eminence, as since the inception of the Ontario Bar Association. The intercourse of lawyers has not been confined to this Province. Lawyers from other Provinces of the Dominion and from the United States have attended our meetings and left behind them words of wisdom and food for profound thought. Representatives from our Association have returned these visits and brought back reports full of interest.

So that if the Association had accomplished nothing else in the last six years, its existence is fully justified by the above results.

During last year it has also, through its committees and members, devoted a great deal of attention to the new Consolidated Rules and High and County Court Tariffs, soon to be given to the public. Law Reform and General Legislation have been considered in a more thorough and systematic man

[ocr errors]

ner by the profession than ever before, and now that the several standing Committees having charge of the various departments of Law Reform, of Legislation, of Legal Ethics and of History, have become somewhat accustomed to their work, the Association will acquire an influence never before enjoyed by any such organization in the Province.

RELATIONS OF THE BENCH AND BAR MORE CordiAL SINCE THE O. B. A. W. As FoEMED.

At no time have the relations between the Bench and Bar been so well understood and so cordial as since the Ontario Bar Association was formed. Judges have come to our gatherings and in the most friendly and brotherly way pointed out our faults and admitted their own. In passing it might be well to remind lawyers of the necessity of keeping constant watch for that fault which is ever ready to cheep insidiously upon us, that is, coming into Court with an unprepared case. It has a most pernicious influence upon the lawyer himself, is dangerous to the client’s interest and annoying to the Judge.

The Hon. Mr. Justice Middleton, the Hon. Mr. Justice Kelly, the Hon. Mr. Justice Hodgins, and His Honour Judge Denton, having been called to the Bench, and Mr. Donald McIntyre, K.C., having been appointed Chairman of the Ontario Railway and Municipal Board, all since our Association was organized, removes from active participation in our work, gentlemen who have rendered splendid service to the Association. While these appointments mean to us a heavy loss, we are consoled with the thought that they constitute a distinct gain to the Province as a whole.

SIR CHARLEs Moss.

The circumstances which gave rise to the appointment of the Hon. Mr. Justice Hodgins (a former President of our Association) to the Court of Appeal remind us of the sad loss to the Bench. to the Bar and to the Province as a whole occasioned by the death, since we last met, of Sir Charles Moss, late Chief Justice of Ontario. He was respected by all, for his high character, admired for his ability and erudition and loved for his kindly and gentle nature.

LAW REFORM ACT, PART I.

The great outstanding feature of importance to the lawyer during the past year is the Proclamation bringing into force Part I of the Law Reform Act, ch. 28, 9 Edw. VII., by which there will be but one appeal from a judgment within this Province, and that appeal made easier and perhaps less expensive than the present appeal to the Court of Appeal. It is to be hoped the highest expectations of its supporters will be realized.

[graphic]

ALL GREAT PROBLEMs of THE PEOPLE ULTIMATELY COME To THE LAWYER TO BE SOLVED.

There are some great questions which the Canadian people are facing, the correct attitude as to which, and the correct administration of which, will greatly affect the future of our Province and of the Dominion. They are Public Ownership, the form of Municipal Government, and the System of Municipal Taxation. All great problems of the people ultimately come to the lawyer to be solved and these will form no exception to the rule.

PUBLIC Own ERSHIP.

The demand that is uppermost in the public mind to-day is Public Ownership. People have seen the evil effects of great interests and valuable franchises being handed over to private corporations, and they are willing to accept whatever defects there may be in Public Ownership, only to again get control. It is needless to say to the lawyer that while the principle is sound, constant vigilance is necessary to guard against dangers quite as odious as the worst effects of ownership by private corporations.

MUNICIPAL GOVERNMENT.

No class of law comes as close to the individual as that emanating from the municipal governing bodies. We have had municipal government by Boards of Magistrates, and the direct voting of the people at the Town Meeting, later by Councils, elected by Wards or the General Vote System, then the Board of Control, and last by a small paid elected Council called a Commission. One municipality in the United States has proposed to hand over the whole business of the town to a manager. After all it is more a matter of men than of system, and the system that will produce the best men will give the best results. It is generally conceded that none of the

systems tried in Ontario have produced the best results. If the position of municipal legislator is made sufficiently attractive, as to length of term and remuneration, to induce men to specially qualify themselves for the position, in other words, if the office of municipal legislator or manager becomes a special calling by itself, much better results will follow. On the legal profession, and on the legal profession almost alone, will devolve the responsibility of adopting the best system, and then working it out.

MUNICIPAL TAXATION.

Municipal taxation is about the only kind of taxation people appear to feel or to which they give much attention in this country. Any system of taxation will not of itself reduce the amount of taxes paid by a community. From time to time different classes of the community endeavour to shift the burden of their taxes from themselves to some other class. In the end however the burden generally spreads itself out pretty evenly, because the class that is compelled to assume the heavier burden in the first instance, finds some way to indirectly collect it from others. Canada is a borrowing country, and the one important thing to keep in mind in adopting any system of taxation is to select one that is not distasteful to the lender. Municipal debentures are not in a very favourable position at present and efforts thus far to place our municipal debentures on the trustee list in England have been unavailing. The legal profession can understand and appreciate this and will no doubt use their efforts to guard against a disaster resulting from adopting business methods that are not agreeable to the lender.

No apology is offered for referring to these matters which are away from common every day routine of practice, because the lawyer's field spreads far beyond the boundaries of litigation.

To him the Parliament, the Legislature, the Municipal Council and the School Board, look for guidance. Few legislative reforms, great or small, have come to us but from the lawyer. When trouble arises in the family, in the municipality or in the state, they all instinctively turn to the lawyer. Therefore a heavy responsibility falls upon him and he will undoubtedly have more to do with the above proposals than any other class in the community.

Divorce AND BANKRUPTCY.

The outstanding features of this meeting will be Divorce and Bankruptcy. That is you will be asked to consider two conditions of failure, one domestic and the other financial. The lawyer from his calling is brought in contact with these matters more than any other class in the community, and naturally should be better able to suggest remedies. Failure in either of these directions is to be deeply deplored, and if the failure can be made less disastrous by legislation it should be. In the matter of divorce we have already provided a remedy, but unfortunately it is so expensive that to adopt it will in many cases produce the other failure, bankruptcy, thereby inflicting both failures upon the unhappy individual.

THE HAGUE TRIBUNAL.

The growing popularity of the Hague Tribunal is gratifying, not only to the lawyer, but to the world at large. While it benefits the lawyer by providing another tribunal in which he may practice, it also benefits the people as a whole to a greater extent. It is expensive of course, but its expense is infinitesimal as compared with the cost of war. Just as ordinary litigation is expensive, though the cost is trifling as compared with the disaster that followed when people settled their disputes by resort to brute force. The peaceful methods of the lawyer will go on, till the ruffianism of war between two countries will be no more tolerated than the ruffianism of a fight between two individuals upon our streets, when the only war will be between the police soldiers of a united civilization against the barbarous and direlict peoples of the uncivilized portions of the world, and finally the civilized methods of obedience to the rule of law will triumph throughout the world and the lawyers' elysium will be realized.

“When the war drum beats no longer,
When the battle flag is furled

In the Parliament of man,
The Federation of the World.”

« PreviousContinue »