Rule of Law Matters Podcast

The Rule of Law Matters podcast introduces listeners to the concept of the rule of law and how it protects our rights and freedoms in a free and democratic society.

Tune in for a new episode that discusses the rule of law and draws from real-life, current events. 

Find and subscribe to the Rule of Law Matters podcast on Spotify or on Apple Podcasts. If you like our discussions, leave us a review, wherever you get your podcasts. We’ve also set up an email to receive your feedback. If you have suggestions or comments, send us an email at

Please note the views and opinions expressed by guest speakers do not necessarily reflect the position of the Law Society.

Continuing Professional Development credits: Please note that not all episodes are eligible for CPD credits. Credits are approved on an episode-by-episode basis. Check member portal or this CPD page to confirm which episodes are eligible.


Season 1, Episode 16, The Rule of law, legal secrecy and the unwritten rule of law on Parliament Hill

Conservative Member of Parliament Michael Chong joins host Jon Festinger to talk about the government's use of "orders in council," legal secrecy and the unwritten rule of law on Parliament Hill.



Season 1, Episode 15, A conversation with Marie Henein on the role of lawyers in our society - BONUS EPISODE

Renowned criminal defence lawyer Marie Henein joins host Jon Festinger to talk about the role of lawyers, what influenced her to be a lawyer, and current threats to democracy and the rule of law that are taking place around the world. Marie Henein is a senior partner at Henein Hutchison LLP, recognized in Canadian Lawyer as one of the country’s Top Ten Litigation Boutiques. She recently released her memoir Nothing But the Truth, which weaves her personal story with her strongly held views on society’s most pressing issues, legal and otherwise. Read the full text of this episode here.

Marie Henein will be speaking at the Law Society's Rule of Law Lecture on April 4, 2022. For information on the event and how to register, visit our website



Season 1, Episode 14, Racism, equity, diversity and the rule of law - BONUS EPISODE

Is everyone equal before the law? In light of the recent surge in anti-Asian racist events in BC, we take this episode to examine how racism was built into our legal system, discrimination in the legal profession and how that impacts everyone. Dr. Carol Liao joins Andrea Hilland, policy lawyer at the Law Society of BC, and host Jon Festinger for a roundtable chat on racism, equity, diversity and inclusion and the rule of law. Dr. Liao recently spoke about her experience as an Asian lawyer in the Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyer's documentary "But I Look Like a Lawyer." Read the full text of this episode here.


Season 1, Episode 13, Rule of law news: a year in review

In this season finale episode, host Jon Festinger and Michael Lucas, director of policy and planning at the Law Society, take a look back at the first season of Rule of Law Matters and the events that have transpired since the podcast launched in September.  They chatted about how this podcast began, whether the rule of law is a western concept that is applicable world wide, and recent threats to the rule of law in Hong Kong, Poland, Zimbabwe, the United Kingdom, and right here in Canada. To read the full text of this episode, click here.



Season 1, Episode 12, The role of prosecutors in criminal justice and the rule of law

What exactly does a prosecutor do? And whose interests do they represent? Senior prosecutor Christopher McPherson, QC, a prosecutor for nearly 22 years, walks us through the role and duties of a prosecutor and the standards that must be met before prosecutors decide to lay a charge. We discuss the importance of prosecutorial independence,  their separation from the investigation and the police, and why prosecutors don't represent the government's or the victims interests. Chris highlights the relationship prosecutors have with criminal defense lawyers and how they also play a key role in the justice system. Lastly, Chris talks about the rare occurrences of wrongful convictions, how new evidence might be discovered and what recourses people have. To read the full text of this episode, click here.


Season 1, episode 11, COVID-19 and returning to "normal"

We welcome Micheal Vonn to talk to us about COVID-19 and returning to the new "normal." Micheal is Chief Executive Officer of PHS Community Services Society. Prior to that, she served as policy director of the BC Civil Liberties Association for more than 15 years. Micheal shared with us how she views the rule of law in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. She compared the current situation to the war on terror, and how important it is not to end up in a state of exception, where normal rules don’t apply. We also talked about the lack of a vaccine injury compensation program and the need for data, as well as how important it is for scientists and doctors to have space to debate their ideas. Lastly, Micheal talked about the work of PHS with marginalized groups and described how COVID restrictions impact them.

Please note this episode was recorded on May 17, 2021 and new information has emerged relating to topics referred to in the episode. In particular, the federal government is now allowing Canadians who have experienced severe adverse reactions to an approved COVID-19 vaccine to apply for compensation. Check your local government's health guidelines for the most updated information. To read the full text of this episode, click here.



Season 1, episode 10, Judges and the rule of law

In this episode, Supreme Court of BC's Justice David Crossin  shares with us his insights on the role of judges and the courts in protecting our rights and freedoms.  He touches on how important it is for judges to be independent and impartial, and warns against governments overseas who continue to exercise arbitrary power when they attempt to undermine confidence in the judiciary or when they seek to control judges. He also talks about how the pandemic and new technologies have opened up access to the courts, and whether those changes could continue post-pandemic. To read the full text of this episode, click here.



Season 1, episode 9, Authoritarianism, closer to home

We invite the Honourable Irwin Cotler back to  speak about the impacts of authoritarianism, closer to home.

Professor Cotler talked about recent events in the US, the mob attack on the Capitol building, and the rule of law implications. He also spoke about his time as special advisor to former Attorney General John Turner during the October Crisis in Canada in 1970, and the rationale for enacting the War Measures Act at the time. We then contrasted this Canadian historical event to what is happening right now in China, where Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor are currently detained. He warned against foreign influences that are infiltrating right here, close to home.  Lastly, Professor Cotler outlined specific steps we can take as a country to combat authoritarianism. To read the full text of this episode, click here.



Season 1, episode 8, Privacy and the Rule of Law

On International Data Privacy Day on January 28, we bring you this special episode, featuring remarks from lawyer Richard Peck, QC at our previous Rule of Law Lecture. He highlighted modern technology’s invasion into our privacy, how it compromises our freedoms, and how it all relates to the rule of law.

We’re also bringing him back for a short follow up interview. We ask him how things have changed over the past year, whether things are better or worse, and whether controlling the spread of COVID-19 is a good reason to compromise our privacy. To read the full text of this episode, click here.



Season 1, episode 7, COVID-19 and the rule of law, Part 2

In this episode, Edmonton health lawyer Tracey Bailey and host Jon Festinger examine our rights and freedoms in the midst of a pandemic. Tracey walked us through some of the differences in legislation in BC and Alberta as it relates to emergency powers and explained the relationship between the medical officer and government officials. They also touched on some hot topics, like the orders that limit gatherings in our private homes, rules around mask wearing, and what fair vaccine distribution might look like. To read the full text of this episode, click here.

Tracey Bailey has worked in the area of health law, policy and ethics for almost 30 years. She practices law as counsel with Miller Thomson where she advises public and private health system and health professional clients, focusing on regulatory, strategic and risk management advice and government relations.



Season 1, episode 6, COVID-19 and the rule of law, Part 1

Earlier this year, BC ombudsperson Jay Chalke and his office found that two orders the BC government made in response to the pandemic were unlawful.  In this episode, Jay explains the role of the ombudsperson in upholding the rule of law, how it helps people who have a concern with a government body, and why the public should care about how laws are made, enacted and implemented, even during a state of emergency. To read the full text of this episode, click here.

To read the ombudsperson's investigative report and to find out more, visit the BC Ombudsperson's website.



Season 1, Episode 5, The rise of authoritarianism and assaults on the rule of law, part 2

We welcome back renowned international human rights lawyer the Honourable Irwin Cotler to discuss several examples of what authoritarianism looks like in countries like China, Iran and Saudi Arabia. He touched on the Chinese government’s treatment of Uighurs and the need for Canada and other countries to name it as genocide to oblige us to combat and prevent it. He also talked about the current dire situation of Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, as well as blogger Raif Badawi and his lawyer Waleed Abulkhair in Saudi Arabia. Professor Cotler urged Canada and other democracies to act, or else their silence would embolden authoritarianism. In the end, he believes justice can and will prevail.

To read the full text of this episode, click here.



Season 1, Episode 4: The rise of authoritarianism and assaults on the rule of law, part 1

In this episode, renowned international human rights lawyer Professor Irwin Cotler warns against the rise of authoritarianism in countries around the world, naming indicators such as erosion of the free press, criminalization of basic rights like free speech, and the imprisonment of lawyers. Adding to those dire circumstances, he noted that democratic nations are backsliding, becoming increasingly divided and polarized. He also walks us through his early influences and how those experiences shaped his values and ultimately, his career and his human rights work.

Professor Cotler is the Chair of the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights and an Emeritus Professor of Law at McGill University. He is a former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and a Member of Parliament from 1999 to 2015.  As an international human rights lawyer, he has worked for many years to free political prisoners and advocates for democracy around the world. Maclean’s has referred to him as “counsel for the oppressed” and the Oslo Freedom Forum has described him as “Freedom’s Counsel.” 

To read the full text of this episode, click here.



Season 1, Episode 3: Lawyer independence and the rule of law

President Craig Ferris, QC and Jon Festinger discuss what it means for lawyers to be independent, why lawyers must represent their clients’ interests, even when they have done something wrong, and what could happen if lawyers are threatened for just doing their jobs.To read the full text of this episode, click here.



Season 1, Episode 2: What is the rule of law vs. rule by law?

What is the difference between the rule of law versus rule by law? Dr. Catherine Dauvergne talks to us about why the rule of law is a difficult concept to teach, a "thin version" and a "thick version" of the rule of law, different interpretations of the rule of law between countries and the need to hold countries accountable when their version of the rule of law is clearly flawed. From 9/11 and Donald Trump to Brexit, Dr. Dauvergne brings the rule of law lens to real-life events.

Dr. Catherine Dauvergne served as the eighth dean of the Peter A. Allard School of Law at the University of British Columbia from 2015 to 2020. Professor Dauvergne has been working in the area of refugee, immigration, and citizenship law over the past quarter of a century. This episode is hosted by Jon Festinger, QC and was recorded in September 2020. To read the full text of this episode, click here.



Season 1, Episode 1: Introduction to the Rule of Law

Craig Ferris, QC, president of the Law Society, and host Jon Festinger, QC kick off the series by explaining why the Law Society is launching this podcast, the basic pillars of the rule of law, and why people should care about the rule of law more than ever in our increasingly polarized society. To read the full text of this episode, click here.