New clinic by August
BLAC meant to replace African Canadian Legal Clinic
Months after pulling its funding from the African Canadian Legal Clinic, Legal Aid Ontario has announced a new clinic serving the needs of Black Canadians will be in place by August.
The non-profit Black Legal Action Centre (BLAC) will provide services including representation, legal advice and public education, in addition to fighting test cases, according to a press release posted Wednesday.
In August, a committee of Legal Aid’s board of directors pulled funding for the African Canadian Legal Clinic amid allegations of financial mismanagement, including that executive director Margaret Parsons charged a diamond ring to a company credit card in 2007 and used money from undisclosed staff vacancies to pay out $170,000 in bonuses, including $121,000 to herself.
In a previous interview with Metro, Parsons denied any wrongdoing and said no public funds were ever misused. She did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.
Legal Aid had provided 35 per cent of the clinic’s annual income.
The interim board of the new clinic is made up of several prominent members of the Black community, including Black Lives Matter co-founder Sandy Hudson and Zanana Akande, the first Black woman elected to the Ontario legislature.
Fellow interim board member Rinaldo Walcott, a well-known Black academic, said there’ll be public consultations over the next few months to hear more about what the clinic should do.
As they begin to “put the pieces into place,” they want to set up a structure with “multiple levels of authorization” to avoid financial pitfalls and ensure the new organization is accountable for public funds, Walcott said.