Focus On

CBA welcomes new president, six new board members

Wednesday, September 02, 2020 @ 11:56 AM | By John Chunn

The Canadian Bar Association (CBA) announced that Brad Regehr of Winnipeg began his year-long tenure as president Sept. 1, taking the helm of the 124-year-old association in an unprecedented time for the legal profession.

According to the CBA’s press release, Regehr, a member of the Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation in Saskatchewan, is the first Indigenous person to hold the position. He takes over from Vivene Salmon, who coincidentally was the first Black lawyer to serve as CBA president.

Stephen Rotstein of Toronto began his term as vice-president. The CBA board of directors also welcomed new members as of Sept. 1: Eden Alexander of Yukon, David O’Brien of New Brunswick, Jonathan Coady of Prince Edward Island, Brittany Scott of the Northwest Territories, Susan Johnson of Nova Scotia and John Stefaniuk of Manitoba. They join board members who are entering the second year of their two-year terms. Melanie Mortensen won a mid-term election in British Columbia to replace William Veenstra, who was appointed to the Supreme Court of British Columbia in June.

As president, Regehr will co-chair the CBA’s Task Force on Justice Issues Arising from COVID-19 with immediate past president Salmon. The task force addresses the growing list of legal issues resulting from the pandemic. The new board has adopted the modernization of justice systems as its advocacy priority for the year.

“My personal priority this year will be to advance the work of the CBA’s Truth and Reconciliation initiative, which has done some great work in the past year, including in May when it launched The Path, which is about increasing awareness of the legacy of the Indian residential school system,” said Regehr in the press release.

“Wellness is another priority — the stress and isolation of COVID-19 is weighing on everyone this year. I will also continue the association’s focus on young lawyers. They are an important part of everything we do.”

Member outreach is a top-of-mind issue for the new CBA president, since many of the normal channels — travel to branches and in-person meetings with volunteers and partner firms — will not be available due to COVID-19 restrictions. One way he will speak to members is through the podcast Conversations with the President, which this year will focus on the Calls to Action in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report.

Regehr is a partner with Maurice Law in its Winnipeg office, where his practice focuses on Aboriginal law, civil litigation and administrative law. He recently completed a two-year term as president of the CBA’s Manitoba Branch, and has held a variety of positions at both the branch and national levels of the CBA, where he has been a member since 1996.