Law Times

June 1, 2009

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A. NEUMAN ASSOCIATES INC. Forensic Accounting & Damages Quantifi cation Specialists Turn Crisis into Opportunity IFAccountant.com (416) 223-5991 Neuman_LawTimes.indd 1 $3.55 • Vol. 20, No. 18 12/9/08 11:12:30 AM Covering Ontario's Legal Scene Michael Bryant has left the Park Being AG was 'dream job' BY ROBERT TODD Law Times F ormer Ontario attorney general Michael Bryant, who last week announced his departure from political life, says his post atop the government's legal arm was a "dream job" he could not have envisioned. Bryant announced he was stepping down as minister of Economic Development, and will soon vacate his post as MPP for the Toronto riding of St. Paul's. The move ends, or at least pauses, a high profile and ambitious run in office that many expected would lead to the premiership. Asked why he decided to leave politics, Bry- ant says, "I hope that 10 years is a significant contribution to public service." He says he also wanted a change, and was drawn to the "excel- lent" position that he now holds as president and CEO of the new Invest Toronto Corp. Born and raised in Victoria, B.C., Bryant received his legal education at Osgoode Hall Law School and Harvard University. His career in law began with a clerkship at the Supreme Court of Canada, and he moved on to practise with New York law firm Sullivan & Cromwell LLP and then McCarthy Tétrault LLP. Bryant used that dense legal background to vault into the role of attorney general in 2003, where he made some of his biggest contributions while in government. He tells Law Times in an interview that he knew it would be the "best le- gal position that I would ever have." "It was just incredible. It was literally occasionally an out-of-body experience, and I enjoyed it," he says. As AG he spearheaded a long list of initia- tives that created controversy: legalizing parale- gals, overhauling the province's human rights system, banning pit bulls, and reintroducing a Law Reform Commission, to name a few. He says he wouldn't change a single measure. "I have not one iota of regret about any- thing that we did," he says. "I would strenu- ously argue that everything done has turned out as good or better than predicted. And I'm not surprised that there's lingering controversy around the changes, because they were in some cases changes that were a long-time coming." Bryant credits his successor, current At- Former Ontario attorney general Michael Bryant has left politics for a new challenge as president and CEO of the new Invest Toronto Corp. Bryant says he saw opportunities for reform in various areas, and "tried not to let the urgent overly obstruct the important." "That is a position where the issues man- agement can swallow up everything else, and you're not able to point to changes you made over four years because you handled the crises of the day. You have to find a way to do both." torney General Chris Bentley, for pushing the agenda along. "Attorney General Bentley has masterfully implemented or improved on whatever I was able to accomplish in terms of those items that required implementation after 2007. Thus far, I certainly think that they were the right decisions for the govern- ment, bar, and bench. But it still may be too early to make a definitive appraisal." He also gave credit to members of the legal community who graciously gave him advice while AG, without gaining any of the recog- nition. "The willingness of lawyers and judges and retired judges to help without getting credit was one of the best bonuses of the job," he says. "There's no question that that sup- port made all the difference in terms of achiev- ing whatever we were able to achieve. "The very nature of the advice is I can't name names, but it is a real credit to the system, that so many lawyers and judges and paralegals and other professionals believe that part of their See Bryant, page 4 Lawyers assault Harper's 'dead time' bill BY TIM NAUMETZ For Law Times OTTAWA — Defence lawyers have assaulted the Harper govern- ment's "dead time" bill — using simple arithmetic to destroy the myth that lengthy custody before sentencing can benefit offenders. They say the bill will instead pe- nalize offenders who serve time in custody prior to sentencing. The sentencing experts also ar- gued at a Commons witness hear- ing on the controversial legislation that detainees rarely, if ever, attempt to delay their trials to build time that could shorten their eventual term. Instead, they plead for help getting out of derelict and violent remand centres that inmates have come to describe as "buckets." Some of the remand centres were described as "draconian." The lawyers told the Commons TitlePlus_LT_Jan12_09 12/23/08 11:07 AM Page 1 Justice and Human Rights com- mittee the bill, proposing to end ju- dicial discretion to give extra credit for time served before sentencing, will worsen prison conditions and eventually face a Charter challenge over cruel and unusual punishment as well as the right to a speedy trial. "What I will say about this bill is that at its best it is misguided, at its worst it is cynical and cruel," To- ronto lawyer Paul Alexander told surprised MPs. "This is a piece of legislation designed to solve a prob- lem which, to my knowledge, does not exist anywhere other than the popular imagination." Alexander, with four other de- fence lawyers and a criminol- ogy professor, was testifying at the only Commons committee witness hearing into Bill C-25, which would replace judicial discretion over credit for time served with strict limits. The maximum credit for time served before sentencing would be one day for each day in remand custody before trial and sentenc- ing, ending the widespread judicial practice of counting time served in pre-trial detention as double time. A judge could apply a credit of one and one-half days only in ex- ceptional circumstances. If a pre- vious criminal record or breach of bail conditions made pre-sentence custody mandatory, the judge could not allow more than one day of credit for each day served. 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TitlePLUS policies issued with respect to properties in Québec and OwnerEXPRESS® policies do not include legal services coverage. 1 opposition parties went along with a government plan to rush the leg- islation through the Commons. Justice Minister Rob Nichol- son tabled the bill on March 27. It was in committee less than a month later with only three hear- ings scheduled, one for Nicholson's testimony, another for the panel of lawyers, who appeared with the federal prison ombudsman and the commissioner of Correctional Service Canada, and the third, this week, to approve the bill. Liberal MP Brian Murphy says the testimony from the defence lawyers could lead to amendments proposed by the opposition. It could also face amendments in the Senate once the bill goes through the Commons. 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