Board Member Election Candidates
Dan Abrahams (Staff)
Educated at the University of Toronto and the University of Windsor, and called to the Bar in 1991, I have been a member of SOAR for over 20 years. During that time I have participated in various SOAR and CCAT educational and professional activities, most recently as a member of the 2017 SOAR Conference Planning Committee. This, however, is my first time seeking a position on the Board of Directors. As a veteran lawyer-manager at the Law Society of Upper Canada, I hope to offer a thoughtful and constructive voice, not just for regulators but also for the public interest. For me, the desire to identify and serve the public interest, even while focusing on individual needs and “every day justice”, is the glue, the shared challenge, which brings administrative tribunals and regulators together. I have been privileged to divide my career between both branches of the SOAR mandate: 15 years at the Law Society, preceded by eight years as Senior Counsel and mediator at the Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal (formerly WCAT) and, before that, three years at Legal Aid, a clerkship at the Ontario Court of Appeal and a couple of big-firm summers (the latter to remind me that I am not best-suited for Bay Street). I am a long-time executive member of the Ontario Bar Association’s Public Sector Lawyers section, contributing three terms as Section Chair. I am also a veteran community board member, currently serving on the board of Social Planning Toronto Inc., among other organizations. Over the years I have been involved with many boards and community organizations in the fields of supportive housing, refugees, mental health, recreation, performing arts and education. I believe I would bring a considerable breadth and depth of knowledge and experience to the SOAR board. I would also bring my quirky sense of humour, which over the course of my career has often come in handy. I hope that all of this – even the sense of humour! - will seem to be assets when you are thinking about your choices for the SOAR Board of Directors. I appreciate your consideration. I would be very grateful for your support.
Susan Adams (Staff)
SOAR and its dedicated volunteers do a fabulous job offering educational programs to adjudicators and staff and raising awareness of the important work conducted in the administrative justice sector. I am interested to contribute to the leadership of this collegial, professional and talented organization. In my role as the executive director of the WSIAT, I am engaged in the strategic direction of the organization, including the development of adjudicator training for a diverse group. The agency is exploring new approaches to work with its cases and has recently introduced video-conferencing into the hearing model. This interesting and varied work, combined with my background as tribunal counsel and managing projects, provide context and background that would enable a productive contribution to the SOAR BOD.
Robert Blair (Staff)
I am the Manager, Adjudication Legal Services in the Office of the Secretary of the Ontario Securities Commission. The Office of the Secretary works directly with Members of the Commission to support them in their responsibility as adjudicators, regulators and as a board of directors. Members of the Commission adjudicate hearings of matters relating to Ontario’s capital markets, including alleged breaches of Ontario securities law and conduct contrary to the public interest. The Office of the Secretary is responsible for administering the fair, impartial and efficient operation of the Commission's adjudicative proceedings. I provide legal advice on adjudicative matters, manage adjudicative counsel and lead adjudicative policy initiatives. I have been a Director of SOAR for over a year, and look forward to continuing to work with SOAR to further the strategic plan for SOAR we developed last year. Among other things, I have enjoyed being part of the faculty of the SOAR/Osgoode Certificate in Adjudication course, participating in the SOAR/OPD Ethics in Adjudicative Justice Webinar series and organizing and moderating SOAR’s first roundtable. The roundtable brought together Chairs and senior staff from a number of tribunals and clusters to discuss issues relating to the Toronto Star’s challenge to Ontario’s freedom of information legislation.
Brian Blumenthal (Staff)
I am Counsel with Social Justice Tribunals Ontario. As Counsel I act for the cluster in applications for judicial review and statutory appeals. I also provide legal and operational advice to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario and other SJTO tribunals. Prior to joining SJTO, I was counsel with two regulatory ministries - Ministry of the Labour (1999-2010) and Ministry of the Environment (2010- 2012), where as litigation counsel I was responsible for regulatory prosecutions and appeals and appeared for both ministries at administrative hearings and appeals before the Ontario Labour Relations Board and the Environmental Review Board. I have for many years served on boards of a number of community organizations both as a director and in leadership positions, including: Vice president and Vice-chair; Chair, Governance Committee; Chair, Research and Evaluation Committee; Chair, Government Relations Committee; Member, Executive Committee; Member, Budget and Finance Committee; Member, Labour Management Committee; and Member, Client Complaints Committee This community involvement has played an important role for myself and my family in how we connect to the larger community in which we live and the importance of giving back to the community. Through this experience I have come to understand and appreciate role of lay leadership within community organizations and the important contribution directors can have on the vitality of an organization. I have benefited from much of what SOAR offers to its members and understand its important role that it has within the administrative justice community within Ontario. I would welcome the opportunity to serve on the Board and in advancing the interests of SOAR’s membership.
Brian Cook (Full-Time Adjudicator)
I am interested in continuing to serve on the SOAR Board of Directors. For the past four years I have been a Vice-President and Chair of the Advocacy and Innovation Committee. I would like to continue the work of that Committee which has taken the lead on issues such as the 10-year cap on Order-in-Council appointments and the exclusion of part-time members from the Canada Pension Plan, and which has commenced research projects concerning self-represented litigants and performance review systems for independent decision makers. I am currently a Vice-chair of the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario and I was previously a Vice-Chair at the Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal. October 2017
Keith Cooper (Part-Time Adjudicator)
ACCLAIMED - Having previously served on the SOAR Board, I am aware of the important work it does with education, advocacy, and innovation. My interest is simply to help continue on with much of what has been established, such as the various – and highly regarded – educational programs offered throughout the year. There are also continuing issues such as the 10 year cap, the part-time OIC CPP exemption, and the matter of OIC compensation and evaluation in general. It is important to have an active and engaged Board that will ensure the continued quality of the educational programming, and respond to the concerns of the community.
Heather Gibbs (Staff)
Please accept this submission as my expression of interest for election to the Board of Directors of the Society of Ontario Adjudicators and Regulators (SOAR). I am very committed to the Ontario adjudicative community and believe that my broad experience in this sector is an advantage to SOAR. Since April 2017 I have been Manager of Legal Services at ELTO (Environment and Land Tribunals Ontario). Prior to that I held the positions of Vice-Chair with the Environmental Review Tribunal (July 2008 - April, 2017), part-time member with the Child and Family Review Board (2010-2013), and full-time member with the Immigration and Refugee Board (1999- 2008). My experience as a volunteer with SOAR includes: currently Secretary on the SOAR Executive; Chair of the SOAR Medal Committee; member of the Education Committee; Champion of the Leadership Forum (to take place in February 2018); former Chair of the Conference Committee; an instructor at the SOAR/OPD decision-writing and adjudicator training courses; and a member of a webinar panel on adjudicative ethics. In my view, SOAR fulfils an important role in this sector. It is the only organization that gives voice to issues of concern to adjudicators and regulators in Ontario, and provides essential opportunities for professional development and networking. My involvement with SOAR has been extremely rewarding and I hope that I may continue contributing as a member of the Board of Directors.
Diane Hall (Staff)
I am pleased to express my interest to serve on the SOAR Board of Directors. I am an Indigenous and French-speaking Social Worker with over seventeen years of experience in administrative law and government oversight including early resolutions, mediation and adjudication. My current position as Mediator with the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario (IPC) involves the adjudication of appeals in an Acting Adjudicator's role. Additionally, my experience in adjudication includes a past appointment as a Member of the Toronto Licensing Tribunal. My leadership and education skills were recognized through a current assignment at the IPC leading the development of the IPC's new Mediation and Investigations training and resource manual. I also served for over seven years as the Chairperson of the IPC's Tribunal Services Learning Committee. In this role, I worked with IPC staff from all departments to coordinate training sessions and presentations from Federal, Provincial and Municipal governments as well as other organizations and subject matter experts. In addition, I currently teach about Indigenous women and human rights at Fanshawe College and serve as a Community Council Member and Mediator with the criminal diversion programs of Aboriginal Legal Services of Toronto and the West Scarborough Neighbourhood Community Centre. My thirty years of past experience with community service also includes serving as a Director on the Justice for Children and Youth Community Legal Clinic and the Toronto Workforce Innovation Group boards. I would greatly appreciate the opportunity to pursue my commitment to supporting the administrative justice community in Ontario by serving as a SOAR Board Director.
Sophie Martel (Full-Time Adjudicator)
I have been a Director on the SOAR Board since 2013. If elected, this will be my last two-year term. I have served SOAR in my capacity as a full-time Vice-chair with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal (WSIAT) and now the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO). I therefore have multi-agency experience to share. During my tenure at SOAR, I have served on the Advocacy and Innovation Committee and contributed to multiple projects including the Submission on OIC Compensation, the Report on the Exclusion of Part-time per diem OICs from the CPP and the Study on the Impact of Term Limits for OIC Appointments. I look forward to continuing to advance issues that are important in administrative justice and to supporting and expanding SOAR’s education portfolio.
Scott McAnsh (Full-Time Adjudicator)
I am a Vice Chair with the Assessment Review Board (ARB) and chair the ARB’s Education Committee. I have been a Member of the ARB since 2013, serving first as a part-time Member and joining as a full time Member in 2016. Having served as a part time Member, a full time Member, and a Vice Chair provides me with a perspective on the issues faced in each position. I am passionate about adjudication and view SOAR as an important voice for adjudicators in Ontario. I sat on the organizing committee for SOAR's 29th Annual Conference 2017, “Exploring Justice: An Experiential Journey.” I would like to take a more active role in SOAR as a member of the Board of Directors and I have the skills and experience needed for the Board. With the ARB I have been a member of a number of committees and have made substantial policy decisions, including implementing the Board’s fully revised Rules of Practice and Procedure earlier this year. I have also served on a number of non-profit boards in the past, including as acting president of the Sierra Club Canada, so have a good understanding of corporate governance and policy direction. I believe those experiences will help me competently guide SOAR into the future.
Elizabeth Nastasi (Staff)
I am excited to express my interest in being on the SOAR Board of Directors. As a tribunal lawyer, dispute resolution practitioner and educator I feel I can make a positive contribution to the SOAR Board and the administrative justice community. I am currently Counsel with the Ministry of the Attorney General at the Safety Licensing Appeals and Standards Tribunals Ontario. In addition to my experience as counsel, I also have extensive mediation and adjudication experience. I was the Senior Arbitrator at FSCO, where I adjudicated and resolved over 1000 disputes. I was also a Mediator with the Ontario Human Rights Commission as well as Legal Counsel with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. I am well aware of the various activities and training programs offered by SOAR. I have been a member of the SOAR Conference Committee since 2009. I am a passionate trainer and teacher and feel I can bring this energy and innovation to the Board. I have delivered administrative law courses at Osgoode’s Professional Development LLM programs and taught in the paralegal program at George Brown College since 2010. A recent project includes creating an online administrative law course to help prepare foreign trained lawyers for their certification exam. Thank you for considering my application.
Kevin Thomas (Staff)
I welcome this opportunity to make an application to serve on the SOAR Board of Directors. I am committed to the development of others, as well as to the continual enhancement of my own knowledge of regulation and public administration. I have been a member of SOAR since 2015. I am also a member of The Council on Governmental Ethics Laws (COGEL). Elections Ontario’s mission is to protect the integrity and accessibility of the electoral process and to administer elections in a fair and impartial manner. I am employed by Elections Ontario as the Manager, Compliance Enforcement. Elections Ontario's Compliance Division ensures that the integrity of the electoral process is upheld by enforcing Elections Ontario’s legislated requirements and regulating non-compliance. The vision of the Compliance Division is to foster trust with stakeholders by continuously improving Elections Ontario’s oversight mechanisms. My role involves the management of the investigative review, enforcement activities and official complaint process under the Election Act and the Election Finances Act for all political entities and related stakeholders, ensuring activities are in alignment with Elections Ontario’s Compliance Strategic Framework. I manage policy, processes, training, staffing, vendor management, tracking, reporting, resolution and escalation in relation to Elections Ontario’s Investigation & Enforcement Strategy and Complaints Process. Prior to joining Elections Ontario, I worked in a regulatory capacity for a major Canadian financial institution and, before this, was a senior detective in the United Kingdom police service.