Distracted Driving is the new Drunk Driving

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“When you are driving—it should not be a secondary task, it should be the only task.”

 – Joel Feldman, creator of End Distracted Driving www.enddd.org

This is not an exaggeration.  Distracted driving has overtaken driving under the influence by a shocking margin.  In fact, incidents involving distracted driving have surpassed driving under the influence at least six fold.  International research shows that 20-30 per cent of all collisions involve driver distraction.

“The moment you take your eyes off the road and your hand off the wheel you don’t have your full attention on the road, which can pose a danger to you and those around you,”  – Kristine Simpson, manager of public affairs at the Canadian Automobile Association.

This is not only texting, but any activity that reduces your ability to focus 100% on the task of driving – in fact, we need to be reminded that even changing the radio station, adjusting your GPS, eating or even putting on makeup are distracting and can be fatal.

TLABC is proud to partner with the End Distracted Driving a program developed by Joel Feldman, a litigator from the US, who lost his beautiful daughter in a distracted driving incident.  Following this horrible loss, Joel created End Distracted Driving – a program designed to be presented in schools, by lawyers, in order to begin to create an effective dialogue about one of the most pervasive driving issues of the past decade.

TLABC is dedicated to creating awareness and bringing attention to distracted driving and TLABC members have been participating in presentations around the province that are geared toward preventing these senseless tragedies.

For more information, or to get involved, please contact the TLABC office at:
604-682-5343, or visit our website www.tlabc.org

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Politics & Passion

[Excerpt from the Fall Issue of the TLABC Verdict] – out now! 

There’s a feeling in the air when summer fades and fall begins… that back-to-school ‘something’ that is crisp and busy and smells like falling leaves and hot apple pie.  Warm afternoons turn into cool, dark evenings and calendars fill up again with meetings, fundraising and campaign strategy.

In short, Fall hits – and it’s go-time.

Not that summer was all that quiet around here- we had multiple retreats and conferences going on for the TLABC Staff, the Board & Executive, and some of our campaign committees, (albeit with a few vacation days tacked on.)  We had staff in Los Angeles and Seattle, Washington, Squamish, the Yukon and Osoyoos, and we’ve been examining our goals and planning for the year ahead, but the work has been strategic and internal and now it’s time for action.

I was fortunate to attend a conference in LA this past July and was asked to present to the National Association of Trial Lawyer Executives (NATLE) on behalf of TLABC.  The meetings were in conjunction with the American Association of Justice (AAJ) and were also book-ended by the GOP and Democratic National Conventions.  It was definitely a busy week in California, and there was an undeniable buzz that distinctly reminded me of my very first AAJ/NATLE trip – pre-US election, 4 years ago.  It was the same conference, but in Chicago – just before Obama’s second term. Now, let’s not get it twisted – this particular buzz was not exactly the same.  4 years ago, it felt exciting and hopeful and I was fascinated by the entire business… whereas this time, it simply seemed to stem from fear.

Fear is a powerful thing.  It’s palpable.  You could feel it in the media, as stories broke about even more racism, more crimes of hate and gender, and in the ongoing antics of that man-who-shall-not-be-named.  You could feel it in the public perception as they carefully went about their days, avoiding the conversation as often as possible, completely unsure of what is to come.  Everyone seemed to be reacting to a series of sometimes silent, but very tangible threats to their society, often with humour, but always in fear.

Well, if there’s one thing that I’ve learned from my time at TLABC, is that fear does not fuel change – only passion does.

At TLABC, through our PAC fund, we are constantly working against threats to our justice system, and our members remain diligent in monitoring what may be coming down the pipe.  We want to make change – to protect our citizens – to strive towards better access to justice.  These are no small things.  But success lies in our passion and subsequently, our action.

I’ve heard time after time, that TLABC was founded by a “small group of renegades” – lawyers who truly believed in justice and in the access of it.  These lawyers did not act out of fear, but of concern for their clients and a passion for their practice.  As time goes on and more battles arise to be fought, it is imperative that we remember to do the same.

There are other groups and organizations who are better suited to predictable action and reaction – TLABC is not one of them.  The work continues, not out of fear of the unknown, or of systematic dissolution, but because it is the right thing to do.

As an association, we will rise to the challenges ahead and show time and again our commitment to justice.

Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek. – Barack Obama

If you want to show your own “Passion And Commitment”then consider making a donation the TLABC PAC fund so that we can take action when the threats to our justice system arise.  Let’s not just sit back, in fear…

Let’s give them something to talk about.

Make a commitment to justice.

[PLEASE NOTE: This was originally published pre- US election]

To donate to the TLABC PAC Fun, please contact megan@tlabc.org

LawyersHelpingPeople

Governments Change, TLABC’s Membership Endures

(From the March PowerPAC by Bentley Doyle, Director of Communications and PR)

In a world darkened by ethnic conflicts that tear nations apart, Canada stands as a model of how people of different cultures can live and work together in peace, prosperity, and mutual respect.”  – former US President Bill Clinton 

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Hand in glove with aspiring for good things, we sought a quote of inspiration. It was a move to counter the lack of encouragement by the latest budget delivered, in February, by the BC Government. There was nary a word nor dollar about legal aid, and nothing to indicate our elected officials will finally address the massive legislative deficiencies neglecting the needs of families who have suffered the wrongful death of a loved one.

Instead, we are left with added concern, namely in the form of the BC Government’s proposed congestion tax. If it is materializes (after the vote),  will it be rolled into the already unfair provincial tax on legal fees? TLABC has written to BC’s Premier and the Finance Minister in an attempt to get clarification on the matter. At the same time, TLABC has reiterated its long-held assertion that the tax on legal services (which is more than 20 years old) never should have been conceived and delivered in the first place. The tax should never have been forced on citizens. This NDP-created tax of the early 1990s should have been extinguished by the currently governing Liberals – yet both parties have acted the same way, by taking the tax money into general revenue rather than earmarking it for legal aid, which was the original idea back in the day, despite what either party claims these days.

The tax, by the way, currently cascades more than $145 million each year into the BC Government’s revenue stream. Oh, and the BC Government projected there will be a budget surplus this year of $879 million, made real by the end of March. There is also another $400 million in the contingency fund, and the BC Liberals anticipate having a billion dollars each of the next three years in surpluses, contingencies and for forecast errors and allowances. And all of that is in addition to the non-partisan governing tradition of claiming (make that re-directing) hundreds of millions each year from ICBC’s profits, despite the fact the so-called people’s insurer was never intended to be a money-maker.

At the very least, tax money collected after legal services have been performed should fund legal aid, and profits raked in by our public auto insurer should be used to offset the high cost of premiums paid by the motoring public.

It’s a good thing TLABC and its members take direct action to address wrongs rather than wait for governments to wise up. Case(s) in point, TLABC was directly involved in the case that challenged BC’s system of costly courtroom hearing fees, which resulted in the Supreme Court of Canada ruling, last fall, that BC’s excessive fees are unconstitutional. TLABC since bumped up the challenge in late 2014 by suing the BC Government (Attorney General) and the Director of Sheriff Services over the province’s excessive civil jury fees.

The Best Things In Life Are Free… But Justice Comes at a Cost

By Megan Ejack, Development Director (From Issue #138 of ‘the Verdict’)

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As we know, the social expectation that access to justice as a basic human right is being challenged.  A fundamental pillar of our Canadian, democratic society is simply not what it should be.  In short, the system is failing.  Court dates are being postponed (or even cancelled,) jobs are being cut, funding has disappeared and the number of self-represented litigants has increased dramatically.  Many who seek justice simply don’t stand a chance.  We’ve used the slogan, “Takes Longer, Costs More,” and it couldn’t be more true.  With the evolution of mindless rhetoric in lieu of action, the future of our Canadian justice system continues to look bleak. It’s happening all over- the UK, Australia, the United States and here in Canada, not to mention the obvious atrocities in ‘less-fortunate’ parts of the world.  Chris Merritt, from the Australian said recently, “Access to justice is not some sort of luxury government can allocate…” – and yet this seems to be so.

So what do we do about it?

Well, let’s look at the trend… when our oil and gas supply is threatened, costs rise and when our fresh water began to dwindle, we bottled it and were convinced to purchase it at an amplified price.  Frivolous nonsense dominates the airwaves, animals disappear from the books, (as is the case with the Western Black Rhino recently,) and our government seems more occupied with the allegations of fraudulent expense claims than with addressing cuts to our education, health, arts and justice systems.  (Don’t get me started about what makes the news these days.)

Sounds hopeless? But there is always hope.

The hope lies in the fact that we live in a society where we are allowed to band together, speak the truth, and fight for our fundamental human rights.  We have associations like TLABC and the CBA and other forces, like the Public Affairs Committee (PAC), the Legal Aid Action Committee (LAAC), Access Pro Bono, and many others, who recognize the work that needs to be done and who work on getting the message out to our citizens.  This message needs to be one of action, and of hope, so let’s get to work.

The best things in life may be free, but the things in life that keep us free, shouldn’t come at such a cost.

(And if all else fails, perhaps we’ll need to bottle our lawyers like we have with our water.)

To make a contribution or to learn more, please contact Megan Ejack, Development Director – megan@tlabc.org or call 604-682-5343 1 888 558-5222.