July 04, 2019

On June 25, the Law Society hosted the third annual Rule of Law Lecture, where an audience of more than 225 people were treated to speeches about privacy, technology and the rule of law by the Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, former chief justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, and Vancouver criminal lawyer and Life Bencher Richard Peck, QC.

McLachlin, noting that all lawyers pay tribute to the lofty concept of the rule of law, took the audience through some of the real-life threats to the rule of law across the world and what they mean to citizens. Pointing to the recent protests in Hong Kong, and to countries such as Russia, where “the slide away from the rule of law is so subtle that few turn out to protest the decline,” she stated that “central as the rule of law is to our existence, we are beginning to understand that it can be weakened and lost.”

Peck framed his remarks by referencing that the event was taking place on the 70th anniversary of Orwell’s Nineteen Eight-Four, the dystopian novel which foretold a state that could listen in on citizens. Tracing the history of privacy’s protection in law from 17th century England through American jurisprudence to a 1984 Supreme Court of Canada decision, he went on to warn that these protections are under threat when he said, “The fundamental problem is that the law has not kept pace with the development of technology.” Peck pointed to examples such as the disembodied voice emanating from “talking cameras” in England, which might identify a passerby with unnerving detail, and order the individual to place her litter in the trash bin.

“In the digital age, our right to be left alone is silently depleting to a point of no return,” Peck warned the audience.

The Law Society launched the annual Rule of Law Lecture in 2017 to increase public awareness of and the importance of the rule of law. A video of the 2019 lecture is available here. A written copy of the speech by the Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin is available here, and a written copy of the speech by Richard Peck, QC, is available here

2019 Rule of Law Lecture

On June 25, more than 225 participants were treated to presentations by the Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin and Richard Peck, QC.