Opening the Legal Profession: The Andrews case.

AuthorBowal, Peter

White legislatures must inevitably draw distinctions among the governed, such distinctions should not bring about or reinforce the disadvantage of certain groups and individuals by denying them the rights freely accorded to others. --Andrews v Law Society of British Columbia, [1989] 1 SCR 143 Introduction

In the recent federal election, a party leader campaigning to be prime minister was criticized for holding dual citizenship. He was criticized, though not disqualified. The minimum requirements to run in a federal election under the Canada Elections Act are 18 years of age and Canadian citizenship (sections 3 and 65).

Millions of people living and working in Canada are permanent residents, not citizens. Permanent residents enjoy virtually the same rights and responsibilities as Canadian citizens, including the right to live, work and study anywhere in the country. They are entitled to the same social benefits that citizens receive, including public pensions and universal health care, and they can sponsor relatives to Canada.

Permanent residents may apply for Canadian citizenship--which gives them the right to vote and run in elections--after living in Canada for three years out of the five years preceding their application. Many permanent residents choose to never become citizens.

Until 1989, provincial law societies required lawyers to be citizens. This article is about a permanent resident who challenged that requirement under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Role of Lawyer

Lawyers are trained and qualified to do many things. They are experts in substantive and procedural law and skilled in legal procedures. They advise and represent others across the total spectrum of legal matters where financial, reputational and liberty stakes for the client are the highest. They occupy one of the most prominent esteemed socio-economic professional perches in society.

Lawyers are bound to exacting character, educational, professional and conduct standards. They must submit to continuing education and be insured for their errors. Being a lawyer is not a right, but a privilege.

Must they also be Canadian citizens?

Mark David Andrews

Andrews was a British citizen and a permanent resident in Canada. With a British law degree, he tried to become a lawyer in British Columbia. He met all requirements for admission to the British Columbia bar except one. Section 42 of B.C.'s Barristers and Solicitors Act limited membership to Canadian citizens.


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