Systemic Prejudice and Racism within the Legal Profession

Commentary, Culture Wars, Leighton Grey

My name is Leighton Grey. I am Indian No.3780270401. My great grandfather, Burrell Grey Eyes, was Hereditary Chief of the Carry the Kettle, or “Jack” Band at Sintaluta, SK. His daughter was my grandmother. She and her sister survived the Great Depression while at the notorious Brandon Indian Residential School in Manitoba. I can still recall the sweet aroma of fresh bannock made in her kitchen in Regina when I was just a boy. She passed away in 2018 at the age of 98. My father is her only son. In addition to suffering physical and sexual abuse while at IRS, my grandmother was also disenfranchised in 1940 by the Indian Act because she married a white man. That wrong was finally righted in 1985, when Bill C-31 amended the Act far too late to make any difference to my father’s prospects in life. Growing up, he was taught to be proud of his native heritage, but not to use it as an excuse. This in turn became an enduring principle for my own life. I excelled at athletics and academics and was granted early acceptance into the Faculty of Law at the University of Alberta based solely on merit. I did not apply as a native student. I was raised to be a staunch conservative, and to earn everything rather than claim entitlement to privileges based upon membership in an oppressed group. I have since endeavored to pass on these same conservative values to my own children, and to help them as far as possible to resist the siren song of socialism being sung in our public schools today.

I first became a Member of the Law Society as an articling student, back in 1992. I have always felt grateful for the privilege of being a lawyer. The most honest, ethical, generous, and conscientious people I have ever known are the lawyers, judges, clerks, and paralegals who spend their days and, sometimes long nights, serving the legal needs of Albertans. In my practice, I have been primarily a litigation lawyer in the various Courts of Alberta. In all of that time, I have not witnessed a single instance of racist treatment of an individual by our Courts. Even during my time as a lawyer representing claimants with Indian Residential School claims, I cannot recall anyone being treated prejudicially based upon their race. Based upon this experience, I do not accept for a moment that the legal profession in Alberta is systemically racist; nor, for that matter, is our country.

There is but a singular situation where I experienced systemic racism and discrimination. It was this past June, and at the hands of leftist colleagues. An activist lawyer named Tom Engel conspired with the NDP and a non-practising lawyer named Rachel Notley, and the CBC, to discriminate against me in the form of a ‘cancel’ culture attack. Our own Law Society later participated in this discrimination. It was designed to destroy my reputation and leave me unable to support my family. Because I reposted a message via social media that “All Lives Matter”, I was branded a racist. Because I had the temerity to criticize George Soros, I was labelled antisemitic. Because I posted that Judges in this province should be selected solely upon merit, and not based upon inclusion, diversity, or any other progressive grounds, I was labelled unfit to serve on a prestigious Judicial Selection Committee to which I had been recently appointed. Because I questioned COVID-19 lockdowns as governmental power grabs that violated our Charter rights, I was called a conspiracy theorist. Rachel Notley repeatedly scorned me on her Facebook page, even questioning the veracity of my claim to Indigenous status. Under such intense public pressure from the political left, I was forced to resign from the Judicial Selection Committee. 

When I needed its support the most, the Law Society Benchers instead piled on, summarily dismissing me from its list of adjudicators in Disciplinary Hearings without so much as even asking me to state my side of the case. Curiously, I was the only Indigenous member of that Judicial Selection Committee; I was not the only Conservative appointed, but was the only one who was forced to resign. When the leftist mob came, they had no regard for my racial/cultural heritage or the many public contributions that I had made over the course of my career. There was instead only blind prejudice, hatred, and the ad hominem attack that invariably comes from the left, launched to gain power by destroying the public reputations of all who dare to disagree with the mob.

The real systemic discrimination in our society and our profession has nothing to do with race. Racism is a simplistic answer to complex problems, subscribed to only by the ignorant. The government of the Law Society of Alberta has chosen to subscribe to the leftist, post-modernist, deconstructionist concepts of inclusion and diversity. To those who understand politics, these are nothing more than code words used to exclude certain persons with the wrong views from positions of power. The Law Society now appears to have gone a step further by subscribing to critical race theory and asks the membership to supply anecdotal evidence in support. It is truly a pity that the Law Society sees its primary function to be the regulator of lawyers. Not just of what they do, but of what they think, of who they hire, and even of how they run their law businesses. All of this at a time and place in history when our western civilization has never been more peaceful, more tolerant, and freer. We can be well assured that no one cares about inclusion, diversity, or critical race theory in China, North Korea, or in Saudi Arabia, where public beheadings are still commonplace.

To my mind, the purpose of the Law Society is threefold: to provide guidance and support to its Membership, to safeguard the public reputation of the profession, and to ensure that lawyers act ethically. The Law Society has no Orwellian mandate to police the private thoughts or political views of its members, or even to try to shape such views. Lawyers need not endure indoctrination with a social justice agenda or to be bombarded by virtue-signalling e-mails. We deserve sufficient respect to not be labelled systemically racist or subjected to compulsory racial re-education to purge our collective white privilege. 

In short, the benchers of the Law Society are entitled to their own moral, social, and political views, but these cannot become the basis for regulation of the membership at large. Lawyers in Alberta are entitled to keep their own counsel, so long as they respect the law, the public, the profession, and just as importantly, each other.

“The best way to avenge yourself is not to be like your enemy.”

–Marcus Aurelius



Leighton Grey is a Senior Fellow with the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.

Photo by Tingey Injury Law Firm on Unsplash.