Legal news roundup – Oct. 20, 2017


Nova Scotia outlines support for inquiry into abuses at Halifax orphanage, Canadian Press

Owner of medical marijuana dispensaries challenges constitutionality of law, Canadian Press

Final submissions expected at sentencing hearing for La Loche school shooter, Canadian Press

United States

Prosecutors seek pharmacist’s conviction over U.S. meningitis outbreak, Reuters

Fate of New Hampshire Indonesians goes before U.S. judge in Boston, Reuters

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LSUC to consider statement of principles exemption

LSUC to consider statement of principles exemption
Joe Groia says the law society can continue to promote goals of diversity while respecting the freedom of lawyers by exempting those who will not sign a statement as a matter of their faith or conscience.

Bencher Joe Groia has asked the governing body of the Law Society of Upper Canada to reconsider a controversial requirement that lawyers adopt and abide by a statement of principles.

Groia filed a motion requesting conscientious objectors be exempt from the requirement, which obliges every lawyer and paralegal in Ontario to adopt a statement acknowledging their obligation to promote equality, diversity and inclusion. The statement of principles has faced vocal opposition from some legal scholars and lawyers since it was introduced by the law society this fall as part of an initiative to combat the barriers faced by racialized licensees.

Opponents have argued that the requirement imposes beliefs on lawyers and is contrary to the Charter.

Groia says the law society can continue to promote goals of diversity while respecting the freedom of lawyers by exempting those who will not sign a statement as a matter of their faith or conscience.

“The Supreme Court of Canada has said that compelled speech is undemocratic and the hallmark of a totalitarian state,” says Groia.

“No matter how much I personally support the goal of greater diversity, and I believe it is extremely laudable indeed, we cannot and should not ask any lawyer to be compelled to say something unless they choose to do so of their own free will.”

Starting this year, the law society will require lawyers to adopt such a statement and check a box on their annual reports to show they have done so. They will not have to submit the statement to the law society.

Some lawyers have already said they will refuse to comply.

LSUC Treasurer Paul Schabas has said the law society will send letters out to those who do not follow the requirement, but will not penalize non-compliance this year.

Convocation approved the statement of principles in December 2016 as part of a package of 13 recommendations seeking to battle systemic racism in the legal profession. 

In that meeting, Bencher Sidney Troister brought forward a motion asking the recommendations be considered separately, as he felt some of them — such as the statement of principles — were problematic, but still supported others. His motion was defeated by a vote of 31-19 with two abstentions.

The entire package was unanimously passed with three abstentions.

Troister applauded Groia’s new motion.

“This motion is very important,” Troister says. “It recognizes that diversity includes a diversity of opinion and a diversity of personal beliefs.”

Supporters of the statement of principles say the requirement is a necessary step in promoting a cultural shift and that it is simply an affirmation of what lawyers are already meant to abide by.

Bencher Raj Anand says the words in the requirement reflect existing obligations under the Human rights Code and the law society’s Rules of Professional Conduct, which hold lawyers have a “special responsibility” to advance equality.

“I am not surprised that we have heard from a small but vocal segment of the legal profession and other commentators about the words I am proud to have drafted and insisted upon, and which passed after a healthy debate at Convocation,” says Anand, who is a co-chairman of the law society’s Challenges Faced by Racialized Licensees Working Group. 

Anand says the law society is concerned with lawyers’ actions and not their beliefs.

Quinn Ross, the president of the Ontario Bar Association, says the comments of some opponents have obfuscated the real issue, which is that equality, diversity and inclusion are fundamental to the future of the profession.

“If we lose site of that, we have let down ourselves and the public we serve,” he says.

“We can’t let that happen. I cannot find fault in confirming that the profession charged with the defence and advancement of equality, diversity and inclusion in society, has the obligation to do so in their own practices. We need to get on with this.”

A spokesman for the law society confirmed receipt of the motion, which will be brought before Convocation in December. 

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Queen’s prof receives grant to study shareholder democracy

Queen's prof receives grant to study shareholder democracy
Professor Mohamed F. Khimji is the David Allgood Professor of Business Law at Queen’s University,

A Queen’s University business law professor aims to shed light on the process and effectiveness of shareholder engagement with the help of a federal government grant announced earlier this week.

Professor Mohamed F. Khimji, the David Allgood Professor of Business Law at Queen’s University, has won a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Insight Grant as principal investigator for the project Shareholder Democracy in Public Corporations — An Empirical and Economic Analysis.

The grant will provide funding of $155,305 over five years. Prof. Khimji’s co-investigator under the grant is Prof. Christopher C. Nicholls, the W. Geoff Beattie chair in Corporate Law at Western University.

Shareholder democracy is “very much a key issue right now, in terms of regulation and corporate governance,” Prof. Khimji told Legal Feeds. The findings of his research, he says, “will have an impact on the extent to which we should be encouraging shareholder engagement, and what kind of engagement should we be encouraging?”

Law reform initiatives over the past couple of decades have “been about trying to enhance and incentivize more shareholder engagement,” Khimji says. “But not everyone agrees that that’s ultimately good for the governance of public corporations.”

The study will test different views about shareholder democracy, or engagement, by collecting data. The first two years will be spent collecting and analyzing interview data.

“We’ll interview key stakeholders in shareholder voting systems,” Khimji says, such as managers of targets that have been subject to shareholder engagement, shareholders who engage with corporate governance, proxy advisors, and regulators. The project’s aim is to understand the infrastructure of the shareholder voting system, and also the process of the shareholder engagement.

“Many people in Canada will say that the culture in Canada is for shareholders to engage behind the scenes, and not do anything in public,” he notes. Given that, the only way to learn how shareholder engagement works is to interview the key participants in any given instance, he says, and to that end he and his co-investigator will be interviewing shareholders, managers and regulators as well as third-party service providers such as proxy advisory firms.

The second two years will involve collecting and analyzing the quantitative data.

There are various legal mechanisms that shareholders can use to engage in corporate governance, and there would be publicly available information about that, he says.

“The idea is to collect that information and try and understand the extent, the types, and the effectiveness of shareholder engagement using these legal mechanisms. We want the data on the types, the number, and also the effectiveness: whether they have an impact on corporate decision- and policy-making.

The difficulty at the present juncture, says Khimji, is that “we make a lot of law reform and policy decisions based on intuition and anecdotal evidence. The idea is to try and gather more evidence in a scientific way so that law enforcement and policy making going forward is more informed.”

Khimji notes the plurality of corporate constituencies in Canada, including company managers, shareholders, employees, creditors, and society in general. Managers of corporations should be accountable, of course; “but at the same time, one of the key advantages of centralized management is that they function to aggregate different preferences.

“What we don’t want is a corporate governance regime that because of shareholder engagement only favours certain preferences over others, at the expense of others,” he stresses.

“The findings will give us a sense of the process of shareholder engagement — we know very little about the process — and we also know very little about the effects of shareholder engagement. So, the empirical evidence will shed light on both those things.”

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Canadian Province of Quebec Pushing Ahead with Law Banning Face Coverings

Muslim Women protest in front of Montreal City Hall against new law. – Photo Peter McCabe

MONTREAL, Quebec – In the Canadian province of Quebec lawmakers have adopted a law that will force people to show their faces when taking the bus or borrowing a book from the library, pushing ahead with legislation that is being criticized for targeting Muslim Canadian women.

Bill 62, which the Justice Minister described as a North American first, requires one’s face to be uncovered when giving or receiving public services. The law marks the outcome of a contentious, decade-long debate about the place of religious minorities in Quebec.

Details of how the law would apply have yet to be worked out, but critics are concerned it will empower civil servants such as front-line hospital workers to refuse service to a woman in a niqab or burka.

The Justice Minister, Stéphanie Vallée (above), confirmed that the law would apply to anyone taking a city bus. “To take public transit, you have to have your face uncovered. All through the ride,” Ms. Vallée said on Wednesday.

The Liberals used their majority in the Quebec National Assembly to adopt the law on Wednesday, 66 to 51. The opposition parties voted against it, with the Parti Québécois and Coalition Avenir Québec saying it didn’t go far enough.

The legislation is already being criticized by Muslim organizations, civil-rights groups and Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre, whose city will bear the brunt of the law’s provisions as home to most of Quebec’s immigrants. He called the idea of a city librarian turning away a woman in a face covering “totally unacceptable.”

Legal experts say they expect the law to be challenged in court.

“I have never seen a more flagrantly unconstitutional law,” Montreal human-rights lawyer Julius Grey said in an interview. “The law scandalizes me. The possibility that somebody could be refused service at a hospital or be thrown off a bus [because of a face veil] is scandalous.”

Bill 62 is presented as a state religious neutrality law and sets out to provide a framework for religious accommodation requests. However, it’s the requirement to uncover one’s face, which effectively targets Muslim women, that has stirred the greatest disagreements.

The law doesn’t identify specific types of garb that would be forbidden, although the Justice Minister suggested it could extend to bandanas and even dark glasses. Still, the fact the rule is contained within a religious neutrality law suggests the legislation is aimed at articles of faith.

Ihsaan Gardee , executive director of the National Council of Canadian Muslims

The executive director of the National Council of Canadian Muslims, Ihsaan Gardee, said the legislation targets a religious minority already facing a significant spike in hate crimes in Canada, one still recovering from the mass shooting of six worshipers in a Quebec City mosque this year.

“It allows voices to marginalize and vilify the Muslim community even further,” Mr. Gardee said in an interview from Ottawa. “What it does is serve to further target a tiny minority of the population for political gain.”

He added: “It’s not the business of the state to be in the wardrobes of the nation.”

The government first tabled Bill 62 in 2015. Initially aimed at services at provincial bodies and institutions, it was later amended to extend to municipalities and transit authorities. Its reach would spread to schools, health institutions and daycares.

Premier Philippe Couillard, who faces an election in less than a year, has been under political pressure amid perceptions of being weak on identity issues. He portrayed the new law as being about communications.

“A covered face isn’t only about religion,” he said.

“You speak to me, I speak to you, I see your face, you see mine. It’s part of communications. It’s a question in my mind that is not solely religious, it’s human,” the Premier said in Quebec City.

The law lets someone with a face covering ask for a religious accommodation, but it can be refused for reasons of security, communications or identification. And the law appears to leave the initial decision to grant or deny a service with front-line public employees.

“That’s the nightmare aspect of it,” Robert Leckey, dean of law at McGill University in Montreal, said in an interview on Wednesday. “I have no doubt that a lot of good-faith public servants will feel pressure to deny service.”

He said Quebec was a pioneering jurisdiction decades ago in bringing in equality measures in its own Charter of Rights, and it was “a shame” it was moving forward with Bill 62.

The Quebec government’s Bill 62 banning face coverings applies to municipal services, including public transit

“It feels sad that it’s pioneering now by stigmatizing a religious minority and trying to restrict their sense of being welcomed into public space, the public sphere and getting public services,” Mr. Leckey said.

Mr. Grey said Quebec didn’t provide evidence that veiled women posed a threat that required legislative action.

“This is an example of people trying to solve problems that don’t exist,” Mr. Grey said. “It’s pure theory and doesn’t answer any social problem or address any definable question. It’s only being done because these things are popular.”

In fact, Ms. Vallée has repeatedly invoked the popularity of Bill 62 to defend it. An Angus Reid poll released this month found that an overwhelming 87 per cent of Quebeckers back the legislation, with francophone respondents particularly supportive. The online survey of 609 Quebeckers was conducted last month. A sample of that size carries a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

“It’s a bill of consensus, that rallies the great majority of Quebeckers,” Ms. Vallée said this month. She insists the law respects the Quebec and Canadian charters.

Ms. Vallée’s office said the guidelines on addressing religious accommodations will be phased in by July 1.

There are already signs of confusion and push-back about applying the law. The union representing Montreal bus drivers said on Wednesday it’s not their members’ job to decide who can board a bus.

“We don’t want bus drivers to become referees and have the responsibility of who gets on or doesn’t get on the bus,” said Ronald Boisrond, a spokesman for the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

While the legislation is said to be about state religious neutrality, the entire debate and vote over the bill unfolded in a legislature where a large crucifix hangs over the Speaker’s chair. Bill 62 specifically protects “elements of Quebec’s cultural heritage, in particular its religious cultural heritage,” meaning that the crucifix will be allowed to remain in place.

By Ryan Remiorz



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Legal news roundup – Oct. 18, 2017


Ottawa man facing charges in child porn investigation, Canadian Press

Blind woman robbed of $800 by newfound ‘friend’ she was trying to help, CTV News

Marijuana rules will be ‘a work in progress’: Vancouver councillor, Canadian Press

United States

Second federal judge blocks Trump’s curbs on travel to U.S., Reuters

Ford to recall about 1.3 million vehicles in North America, Reuters

Trump slams NFL for not making players stand for anthem, Reuters


Vote may have put independence out of reach for Iraqi Kurds, Reuters

Khamenei says Iran will ‘shred’ nuclear deal if U.S. quits it, Reuters

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Proposed legal limits for drug-using drivers likely to be challenged: criminal lawyer

Proposed legal limits for drug-using drivers likely to be challenged: criminal lawyer
Kyla Lee, a Vancouver criminal lawyer, says a law governing legal limits for drug-using drivers won’t look anything like it’s currently drafted, once courts have ‘whittled it away.’

The federal government released a draft of its planned legal limits for drivers under the influence of drugs, but criminal lawyer Kyla Lee has doubts about how well the legislation will hold up against constitutional challenges.

“I don’t think this law as it’s currently drafted is going to look anything like what it looks like when the courts have whittled it away,” says Lee, who practises at Acumen Law Corp. in Vancouver.

“There’s going to be so many challenges to this; it’s going to tie up the courts, it’s going to be expensive.”

The Blood Drug Concentration Regulations, posted Oct. 14, come as part of the federal government’s attempt to strengthen the laws against drug-impaired driving before the legalization and regulation of marijuana.

The regulations include a regulatory impact analysis statement where the government admitted it was unable to set general limits for marijuana use while driving, noting, “THC is a more complex molecule than alcohol.” The science used to set the limits is “unable to provide general guidance to drivers about how much cannabis can be consumed before it is unsafe to drive or before the proposed levels would be exceeded. It is equally challenging to provide general advice as to how long a driver should wait to drive after consuming cannabis.”

Bill C-46: An Act to amend the Criminal Code (offences relating to conveyances) and to make consequential amendments to other Acts proposes three new criminal driving offences for being at or over the described BDC levels of certain impairing drugs within two hours of driving. 

“The proposed BDC offence level for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC, the primary psychoactive component of cannabis) under the summary conviction offence is not directly linked to impairment, but is, rather, based on a precautionary or a crime prevention approach,” reads the draft.

It goes on to say that the objective is to make it easier to prosecute drug-impaired drivers and “send a clear message” to the public on the dangers of driving while under the influence of drugs.

Lee says though the justice minister tries to justify the limits in the statement, what stood out to her the most was how senseless a lot of the limits they’re imposing are.

She says her firm will be covering these cases acting for defendants when the time comes. She predicts a “significant increase, particularly at the front end, while all of the unanswered constitutional questions in this legislation are being sorted out.”

“You’re going to see a lot of challenges taking place very quickly with the way blood samples are collected, the science behind this, whether the legislation actually creates a proper criminal law,” Lee says.

For example, with the amounts they picked for marijuana for the summary offence, “it’s not even criminal in their view, but they’re going to make it criminal to prevent a crime from happening.

“That’s so far removed from what the legal authorities say you can do in enacting criminal law,” she says.

But even with the limits on which they were able to decide — for drugs such as cocaine, GHB, methamphetamine, LSD, magic mushrooms, PCP, 6-MAM and ketamine — “the numbers that they picked don’t make sense when you actually look at the science — how they are metabolized by the body, how long the effect lasts and how long the metabolites of those drugs are detectable in blood and urine,” says Lee.

“Issues that we generally see in drug cases are now going to be the everyday issues in impaired driving cases, which is going to be an incredible problem,” Lee says. “You’re taking a prosecution that would otherwise take a day, maybe two days, and you’re going to turn it into a 14-day trial. If we’re trying to reduce delays in our legal system, setting these arbitrary limits and then making people have to challenge them by introducing evidence to the contrary and challenging the practice of the analytical process employed in the particular case is only going to cause more significant delays.”

Bill C-46 has passed first and second readings, and it was sent to a Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. The committee presented a report with suggested amendments to the House on Oct. 16.

The draft regulatory text is laid out in Annex A of the proposed regulations “in order to seek public input on the development of offence levels for drug-impaired driving,” but Lee calls it a formality and doubts any substantive changes will come from it. Despite vocal opposition, this government is “so resistant from backing down from its position.”

If the bill becomes law, it would also “permit a peace officer to demand a blood sample from a driver if they had reasonable grounds to believe that a driver was committing a drug-impaired driving offence.”

Lee says this is incredibly invasive and has the potential to be mishandled and abused by police.

“It’s ripe for a constitutional challenge not only on the personal privacy but also the personal safety,” she says.

She points to officers in the United States who are the ones that engage in the blood collection and says there have been “some very shocking cases — even in the last two years when it should be considered unacceptable — where people are forcibly held down” and their blood is extracted.

She predicts complaints against police, justified and unjustified, by people who think their blood was taken from them in wrong circumstances, not to mention sample reliability issues and safety concerns for all involved.

“How many times are you going to prick a person in the back of a police car with a needle to try and get their blood before you actually find the vein? It’s hard enough in the lab . . . and now you’re going to have people with no medical training doing this in the back of a police car in the dark with somebody who is arguably impaired.”

What if an officer is pricked with a used needle during an altercation?

“We could end up with the spread of IV drug-related diseases to police,” she says. “I don’t think anybody thought this through from a practical policing perspective.”

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Signs Exclusive Agreement with Canadian Tactical Officers Association on Less Lethal Munitions and Device Purchases for Law Enforcement Training to Canadian, U.S. and Other NATO Agencies

(GlobeNewswire) – Lamperd Less Lethal, Inc. (LLLI), an innovation leader and manufacturer of advanced security solutions,has signed a new agreement with the Canadian Tactical Officers Association (CTOA) for the exclusive use of Lamperd grenades, ammunition and other products inthe training of law enforcement officers from Canada, theUnited States and other NATO countries.This agreement involves the directpurchase of Lamperd products tobe used in CTOA training courses on an ongoing basis, beginning immediately.This agreementalso has the additional benefit ofhelping to introduce Lamperdand its products to many new law enforcement, military, correctional agencies and other users ofsecurity products allowing us to address their specificsituations and meet their supply needs.

Barry Lamperd, CEO of Lamperd Less Lethal, stated, “We wereextremely pleased that representatives of theCanadian Tactical Officers Association could attend our company showcase event, along with many visitors from Canadian and international law enforcement associations.The showcase was very successful, overall.

The CTOA is a non-profit, fraternal organization directed by the needs of Canadian tactical officers and law enforcement. Their goal is to develop a professional network, committed to promoting and coordinating the sharing of information and best practice guidelines amongst law enforcement, corrections, military and security providers, to meet the needs of these organizations and provide access for consultation, expert testimony and tofacilitate effective practical training, based upon the most recent, realistic and relevant skills in crisis and risk management.See more information here:

About the CompanyLamperd Less Lethal, Inc. (LLLI) is a developer, manufacturer and international sales company for advanced less lethal weapons, ammunition and other security products marketed to police, correctional, military and private security forces. The company sells over 300 different products including small & large caliber projectile guns, flash grenades, pepper spray grenades, 37mm & 40mm launching systems and interlocking riot shields. Lamperd also offers advisory services and hands-on training classes run by highly accredited instructors.

Safe Harbor for Forward-Looking Statements:This press release includes forward-looking statements. While these statements are made to convey to the public the company`s progress, business opportunities and growth prospects, readers are cautioned that such forward-looking statements represent management`s opinion. Whereas management believes such representations to be true and accurate based on information and data available to the company at this time, actual results may differ materially from those described. The Company undertakes no obligation to update or revise forward-looking statements to reflect changed assumptions, the occurrence of unanticipated events or changes in future operating results.Important factors that may cause actual results to differ are and will be set forth in the company`s periodic filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.Contact: Lamperd Less Lethal, Inc.Barry Lamperd, President & CEO(519)

(c) All Rights Reserved | 2017 Peoples Media Limited Provided by SyndiGate Media Inc. (, source Middle East & North African Newspapers

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Legal news roundup – Oct. 17, 2017


Two Hamilton men arrested in alleged human trafficking case, Canadian Press

Police arrest man convicted of sex crimes involving kids after alleged parole breach, Canadian Press

NAFTA trade ministers to square off over hard-line U.S. demands, Reuters

United States

Trial of Islamic State beheading plot in Massachusetts nears end, Reuters

NFL weighs protesting players’ passion against Trump rebukes, Reuters


Maltese journalist’s son says she was murdered for exposing corruption, Reuters

Taliban attacks kill at least 61 across Afghanistan, Reuters

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Blockchain will disrupt the world of in-house counsel

Blockchain will disrupt the world of in-house counsel
Canadian technology and business expert Don Tapscott said blockchain will change transactional work for lawyers over the next decade.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A leading authority on technology’s impact on business and society says blockchain will be the biggest driver of change for in-house counsel in the coming decade.

“I think this is probably the biggest thing if you’re a corporate counsel, for the next decade or so, that you need to understand,” said Tapscott during the opening keynote to the Association of Corporate Counsel annual meeting in Washington Monday.

Tapscott, who is co-author with his son Alex Tapscott of Blockchain Revolution: How the Technology Behind Bitcoin is Changing Money, Business, and the World, said there is an opportunity with blockchain to fix many problems faced by organizations today, especially the financial industry.

“I think this is the biggest innovation in computer science in a generation. For the first time in history, people everywhere can trust each other and transact peer-to-peer,” he said. “And trust is not achieved by counterparties and middlemen — trust is achieved by cryptography, by collaboration and by some very clever code.”

The big banks, for example, will potentially see the biggest challenge as Tapscott noted that the banks exclude two billion people from the global economy, mostly because they may not have an identity. It can also take days or weeks for digital assets to move through computer systems on Wall Street.

He noted that the biggest flow of money from the developed world to the developing world is remittances between people who send money home to families living in ancestral countries — about $1 trillion annually. That kind of cash transfer represents about 15 per cent of the GDP in the Philippines.

The problem is many intermediary service providers charge up to 10 per cent for funds transfers and can take four to seven days, whereas a blockchain-based remittance app called Abra delivers funds in minutes via mobile “tellers” like Uber drivers, with the transaction costing significantly less.

While not “unhackable,” Tapscott described blockchain as a “highly processed” and an “infinitely more secure” computing platform than the ones that exist in most companies today.

He referenced Ethereum, a blockchain application platform for building all kinds of apps, invented by a 19-year-old Toronto student, which is now worth $30 billion. Ethereum has a tool for building smart contracts that “self polices itself and self executes.”

“The first killer app of the internet was email and then you had the rise of the web that enabled all sorts of apps to be developed. The first killer app of blockchain was Bitcoin, but now we have platforms like Ethereum emerging that are general-purpose applications,” said Tapscott.

Smart contracts are made out of software, police themselves and self execute, and if it has a bank account and certain contractual conditions are met, payments flow.

“I think of it as a contract that has a bank, government and a lawyer inside,” he said.

“It doesn’t mean lawyers will be replaced — I generally think it’s the biggest opportunity for lawyers,” he said. “It’s a huge opportunity for law firms, but for corporate counsel this is pure opportunity — this is not going to disintermediate you, this is an opportunity to build a more secure and stable organization and speed up the metabolism of a company.” 

For accounting and auditing functions, blockchain moves beyond double-entry accounting of debit and credit and also allows for a third entry automatically — the balance — meaning you can have real-time auditing 24 hours a day.

“If you talk to the smart public accounting companies like Deloitte or KPMG, the CEOs will tell you that business is going to, if not disappear, change very radically and they are working hard to figure out what auditing looks like in a triple-entry accounting world,” he said.

The same will apply for governments.

“If we had triple-entry accounting in our governments, it would be an extraordinary thing — it could bring great transparency and sunlight is the best disinfectant and we sure need a lot of sunlight on our governments these days,” he said.

Venture capital has also been radically changed by blockchain. In October, more money has been raised on blockchain crowdfunding or “initial client offerings” than on all venture capital in the world — $2.8 billion.

“This is the bread and butter of what the investment banks do,” Tapscott said.

Tapscott advised the audience of mostly in-house counsel to educate themselves and pilot a blockchain experiment and seek out those in their organizations who are experimenting.

“Talk to your CTO, CFO and CIO and see if they are working on this,” he said.

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