March 02, 2016 - 1:00 PM
CALGARY - The Alberta Law Society has accepted a request from outspoken political commentator Ezra Levant to resign effective immediately.
That means two complaints against him over a column he wrote in March 2014 are moot because the law society no longer has jurisdiction over him.
"I feel freed from that leghold trap I've been in," Levant said Wednesday after the decision.
He argued before a law society hearing Wednesday that he hasn't practised law in years and moved from Alberta to pursue other interests.
"I'm glad I went to law school and I use my legal training almost every day, but I use it to do politics or journalism, not as a lawyer," he said in his submission.
"I haven't had a client in years."
He had been scheduled to face a week-long disciplinary hearing in front of the law society over the complaints, but requested last month that it be turned into a resignation hearing instead.
However, he said he would not quit the society unless the complaints against him were lifted.
The column in question criticized the Alberta Human Rights Commission's handling of a case involving a Muslim man who was claiming discrimination when he was fired from his job as an electrician in Edmonton. The column ran in the Calgary Sun and its sister Sun newspapers across the country.
Law society citations had alleged comments Levant made in the column entitled "Next Stop, Crazy Town" were "inappropriate and unbecoming'' for a lawyer and violated the professional code of conduct.
Levant addressed those allegations in his submission.
"I acknowledge that there are some things that could amount to conduct unbecoming for a lawyer, even a non-practising lawyer," he said. "Being convicted of a crime might be one example.
"But having strong opinions shouldn't be. Nor should expressing them."
A law society official who initially reviewed the complaints dismissed the allegations stemming from the column, ruling that Levant wasn't acting in his capacity as a lawyer at the time. He said Levant was acting as a journalist and there was no reasonable prospect that a hearing panel would find his conduct breached the society's code of conduct.
That position was overturned when the complainant, an Edmonton lawyer who worked for the human rights commission, appealed the decision.
News from © The Canadian Press, 2016