The Right to be Heard: The Future of Advocacy in Canada

The Advocates' Society's Modern Advocacy Task Force has completed its Final Report, entitled The Right to be Heard: The Future of Advocacy in Canada (digital version / print-friendly version / French language version). This Report marks the culmination of a year of extensive research and analysis, widespread consultation with stakeholders across Canada, and balanced deliberations regarding the Task Force’s recommendations.   

The COVID-19 pandemic required Canadian courts to make massive changes virtually overnight. In its recommendations, the Task Force seeks to expand and build upon those adaptations, while preserving the elements of advocacy which are crucial for meaningful and substantive access to justice.

The Report concludes with a summary of the key principles which emerged from the consultation process and a set of recommendations, including a model framework for determining the mode of hearing for different types of matters, suitable for adaptation in rules of court or practice directions.

This Report is also an important resource regarding:
  • the foundations of oral advocacy in history and jurisprudence in common law and civil law legal systems
  • the importance of orality and oral traditions in Canada’s Indigenous communities
  • perspectives from the fields of psychology and education regarding learning and persuasion, and the assessment of outcomes in proceedings in other jurisdictions based on modes of hearing
  • a survey of the modes of hearing used in legal proceedings across Canada and in select other jurisdictions
Throughout its work, the Task Force heard from judges, lawyers and other stakeholders about the need for a sustainable, accessible and open justice system in which litigants and the public can have confidence and of which all Canadians can be proud. The Task Force adds its voice to the call to action to take tangible steps to address access to justice in Canada.

Watch a message from Guy J. Pratte, 2020-2021 President of The Advocates’ Society, about The Right to be Heard: The Future of Advocacy in Canada:

Read The Right to be Heard: The Future of Advocacy in Canada (digital version / print-friendly version).  Read the French version, Le droit d’être entendu : L’avenir de la plaidoirie orale au Canada.


In 2020, The Advocates' Society established the Modern Advocacy Task Force to make recommendations for the reform of the Canadian justice system. The Task Force’s aim was to combine the best measures by which Canadian courts have adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic with other measures designed to ensure meaningful and substantive access to justice for the long term.

The Modern Advocacy Task Force is composed of a national group of members of The Advocates' Society's Board of Directors, 10+ Standing Committee, and Young Advocates' Standing Committee, with expertise in diverse areas of law. They are guided by an advisory panel of some of the most respected jurists and counsel in our country, including former justices of the Supreme Court of Canada and current and former judges of provincial appellate courts.

For more information about the Task Force's mandate and composition, please see The Advocates' Society's press release about the Modern Advocacy Task Force in English and French.

In June 2020, The Lawyer's Daily interviewed Guy Pratte, TAS President, Peter Osborne, chair of the Task Force, and Katherine Kay, vice-chair of the Task Force, about the Task Force’s aims. Read the interview here.

Thought Leadership Symposium

On September 29, 2020, the Modern Advocacy Task Force held its inaugural event, a thought leadership symposium called The Right To Be Heard: The Future of Advocacy in Post-Pandemic Canada. The symposium brought together lawyers, judges, and academics in a variety of fields, to talk about the future of oral advocacy in Canadian courts.

Please see the symposium agenda here. Please see a list of resources here. You can view the recorded webcast of the Symposium at the following link, free of charge:


Virtual Town Halls

Seven different regions, one national conversation. The Advocates' Society thanks all those who attended a virtual Town Hall and heard from, and shared ideas with, Chief Justices, judges, and leaders of the bar. Your input helped the Task Force develop recommendations for ensuring meaningful and substantive access to justice over the long term.

January 18, 2021

Atlantic Canada
January 19, 2021

January 20, 2021

Thunder Bay/Northern Ontario
January 21, 2021

January 22, 2021

January 27, 2021

British Columbia
January 28, 2021

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Members of the Modern Advocacy Task Force

Peter J. Osborne, Lenczner Slaght, Chair
Scott C. Hutchison, Henein Hutchison LLP, Vice-Chair
Katherine L. Kay, Stikeman Elliott LLP, Vice-Chair
Brian K. Awad, McInnes Cooper
Michael Bookman, Babin Bessner Spry LLP
Robin Clinker, Petrone & Partners
Andrew Faith, Polley Faith LLP
Steven G. Frankel, Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP
Sheila Gibb, Epstein Cole LLP
Kathleen Lickers, LSM, Barrister & Solicitor
Doug Mitchell, IMK S.e.n.c.r.l
Ken McEwan, Q.C., McEwan Partners LLP
Christine E. Mohr, Department of Justice
Anthony Moustacalis, Anthony Moustacalis & Associates
Lillian Ying Pan, Q.C., Dentons Canada LLP
Frédéric Plamondon, Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt S.E.N.C.R.L./s.r.l.
The Honourable Alexander Pless, Superior Court of Québec
Guy J. Pratte, Ad. E., LSM, Borden Ladner Gervais LLP
Owen M. Rees, Department of Justice
Alexandra K.W. Shelley, Torys LLP
Chloe Snider, Dentons Canada LLP
Sapna Thakker, Lax O'Sullivan Lisus Gottlieb LLP
William Thompson, Addario Law Group
Maureen Whelton, Stevenson Whelton LLP
Adrienne Woodyard, DLA Piper (Canada) LLP

Members of the Modern Advocacy Advisory Group

The Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, P.C., C.C.
The Honourable Ian C. Binnie, C.C., Q.C., ASM
The Honourable Thomas A. Cromwell, C.C.
The Honourable Marie Deschamps, C.C., Ad. E.
The Honourable Clément Gascon
The Honourable John C. Major, C.C., Q.C.
The Honourable Marshall E. Rothstein, C.C., Q.C.
The Honourable Eleanore A. Cronk, ASM
The Honourable Constance Hunt
The Honourable John J.L. Hunter
The Honourable John I. Laskin
The Honourable Yves-Marie Morissette
The Honourable Kathryn Neilson
The Honourable Dennis O'Connor, O.C., O.Ont., Q.C., ASM
The Honourable Jamie W.S. Saunders
The Honourable Robert J. Sharpe
The Honourable Benjamin Zarnett
Sheila R. Block, LSM, ASM
Gérald R. Tremblay, C.M., O.Q., Q.C., Ad. E.