Ontario lawyers elected every single member of the Good Governance Coalition in the Law Society of Ontario (LSO) Bencher election, reports The Globe and Mail. The election, which ended on April 28th, was a complete rejection of all 36 lawyers in the FullStop coalition who ran under the slogan “stop bloat, stop creep, stop woke.”
The Bencher election was a battle between these two coalitions, and it was an incredibly bitter campaign. The stakes were control of the LSO, which is the governing body for the legal profession in the province. This body is responsible for things like professional competence and discipline.
While the FullStop coalition’s goal was fighting wokeness, the Good Governance Coalition’s focus was “diversity over division.”
According to commercial litigator Will McDowell, the FullStop coalition “invented a culture war.” However, what he referred to as the “silent majority” of Ontario lawyers rejected this coalition.
The results of the election were announced on Monday, May 1st. The winners were the 20 lawyers with the most votes in Toronto and 20 lawyers with the most votes outside of Toronto.
FullStop Candidates’ Reaction to Election
FullStop is an offshoot of a group called StopSOP, which won 22 Bencher positions in the election four years ago. SOP refers to a Statement of Principles that would have required lawyers and paralegals to state their commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. The SOP was rejected by the Benchers in the LSO.
According to FullStop campaign co-chair Bruce Pardy, the group was concerned with fiscal discipline, holding closely to the LSO’s mission and stopping woke excess. Pardy thinks the defeat of FullStop is going to be harmful. Pardy is also a law professor at Queen’s University.
The leading vote-getter in this year’s election was Gerald Chan, who received 12,825 votes. Chan said StopSOP claimed they were opposed to the diversity statement because of free speech. However, Chan says they were clear in their belief that systematic discrimination was not real.
Chan says the results of this election show the LSO should lead in the push for inclusion.
The Good Governance Coalition has said that it would have been dangerous to the legal profession for FullStop to win the election. The ability of lawyers to regulate themselves may have been at stake.