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The LCO’s objectives can be roughly separated into those it plans to realize in the short-term, those it is more likely to achieve at some point during the next five years, and those that will take longer.
A. Short Term Objectives
Preparation of a new project selection document: This document will explain the process of project selection and will be available on the LCO’s webite. Once completed, it will also be distributed to the LCO’s database.
Timely completion of projects: The projects undertaken in the first mandate have taken longer to complete than anticipated, for a variety of reasons. Some of these reasons are in themselves difficult to change or avoid (such as when the project head leaves in the middle of a project), but given the first mandate experience, it will be possible to plan projects more effectively at the outset of the project work. The LCO will seek to limit the number of projects in progress at any time, or to pace the projects more carefully so that the stages of different projects are complementary.
Selection of projects that build on expertise and relationships: The Board has already approved a project for the LCO’s second mandate that will build on its existing expertise and relationships. The project on capacity and guardianship is a “second generation” project that arises from the two framework projects, relating to older adults and to persons with disabilities. Other new projects may be linked to the existing projects or may allow the LCO to reinforce existing relationships with other groups.
Selection of projects that develop new expertise and relationships: It is also important that the LCO undertake projects in new areas of law and to expand its relationships with members of the legal community, Ontario’s diverse population and organizations that have not previously participated in the LCO’s work or have played a less prominent role in the first mandate. These projects will take longer to complete since they will not be able to rely on existing expertise or relationships, but they should enhance the LCO’s positive reputation and in their turn perhaps provide the basis of “second generation” projects in the future.
Revision and development of policies and manuals: The beginning of the second mandate provides the opportunity to review existing policies and to develop formal policies in areas in which the LCO has operated more informally. The LCO will review the operation of the policies to ensure that they are consistent with its mission and values and its objective of being recognized as a leader in law reform in Canada and elsewhere. This is also a good opportunity to prepare written manuals to assist new staff members, as well as students, and to remind existing staff members about the LCO’s practices.
B. Medium Term Objectives
Expand relationships: As projects develop, the LCO will seek out groups that are relevant to its mandate, but which it has not yet an opportunity to approach. It will also seek to engage groups which share interests with the LCO, but which the LCO has to this point been unsuccessful in engaging. This will be ongoing, but will become more significant after new projects are begun. The creation of the new Community Council, with broad representation from different societal groups, is designed in part to contribute to the achievement of this goal.
Make the Law School Research and Liaison Group and the Community Council an integral part of the LCO: the Law School Group continues the representation and contribution of the law schools that was part of the Research Advisory Group which has been replaced by the Law School Group and the Community Council. The Community Council is a new group, intended to enhance the LCO’s commitment to community outreach and participation in its work. It is important that the members of these bodies feel part of the LCO’s work through discussions about the LCO’s work, having their advice taken seriously and constructively considered and having an opportunity to satisfy the roles envisioned for them.
Refine the process of law reform: As the LCO initiates new projects and undertakes the work required to complete them, it will review and amend its processes as appropriate. It has introduced a new approach to creating project proposals, small expert groups whose members will be able to assist in developing proposals for Board consideration. It will continue to create advisory boards for projects, but will do so at the earliest stage of project development. It will review consultation practices and use the ones most suitable for a particular project. At the same time, it will continue to experiment with new ways of doing things as relevant to each project.
C. Long Term Objectives
Establish the LCO as an integral part of the Ontario landscape: By the end of its second mandate, the LCO should be an accepted part of the legal landscape in Ontario, so that its renewal is not in doubt and a different type of funding process might be instituted, one that is to the extent possible ongoing rather than for a limited time period. To achieve this goal, the LCO will need to show that it can effectively respond to immediate law reform needs, as well as contribute to thoughtful and creative analyses of and responses to larger questions. It will also need to develop widespread support among different constituencies. The state of the economy will continue to be a major factor in the LCO’s achievement of this objective.
Develop new sources of support for the LCO: Support can take different forms: financial, human resources and collaboration for specific initiatives, among others. These are not meant to substitute for core funding, but to supplement and complement it. To accomplish this goal effectively requires someone who can spend the necessary time in identifying sources, approaching them and developing proposals for support. This long-term goal can be accomplished only with additional person power, and the LCO will consider ways in which this can be achieved.
Become a source of assistance to other commissions: Law commissions in Canada try to be of assistance to each other, as well as to commissions elsewhere. By the time the LCO reaches the end of its second mandate, it hopes to have established itself as a law reform body to which others come for input on various issues and which can readily and effectively contribute to a thriving law reform agency community in Canada.
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