Ontario’s law society has issued a warning to paralegals in Toronto’s west end, claiming they may be the targets of arson attacks following the torching of an SUV belonging to a traffic ticket fighter.
A Law Society of Ontario spokesperson confirmed that on April 4 the LSO sent an e-mail notice to paralegals in an “affected area” following incidents occurring on “Eglinton Ave. W and Keele St.”
“It came to our attention that paralegals working in the area … have been the targets of threats and property damage, which is why we sent out the notice,” said the LSO’s Susan Tonkin in an e-mail, adding that notices were sent to licensees “in and around the boundaries” of Weston Rd., Lawrence Ave. W., Dufferin St. and St. Clair Ave. W.”
Tonkin wouldn’t comment when asked how many received the notice, how many had become victims or if the LSO knows who is allegedly behind the incidents.
The notice, which talks of “damage to cars and offices when they have been set on fire,” comes after a recent incident where firefighters were called to a plaza parking lot on Keele Street, near Lawrence Avenue West, for an SUV on fire.
When contacted by The Lawyer’s Daily, HWY-LAW Paralegal Services’ Daniel Fenech confirmed it was their truck and alleged someone had set it on fire by throwing a “stone” through its back widow and tossing in a lit Molotov cocktail.
Fenech, who said Toronto Police are treating it as arson, alleged the culprits are people in the area fighting traffic tickets without a licence and attacking nearby rivals.
“There has been a beef since the regulation of paralegals was put in place,” said Fenech. “These people were unable to obtain their licence with the [LSO] because of bad character in their past, criminal charges, things of that nature.”
Fenech, who notes he has no “physical evidence or proof” to back his suspicions, said the attack on the SUV is the latest incident in a one-sided turf war.
In May 2015, emergency personnel were called after a blaze broke out at Stop All Traffic Tickets, on Eglinton Avenue West, near Keele. The fire was reportedly started after a Molotov cocktail was thrown through a window. A Toronto Police spokesperson confirmed a Molotov cocktail bottle was found at the scene.
That was the second time in less than a week firefighters were called to that location, according to news reports.
Toronto Police confirmed that both the Stop All Traffic Tickets incident and the SUV fire are being investigated but would not provide details.Ontario Paralegals Association president Stephen Parker says such incidents have been occurring since the regulation of paralegals in 2007.
“Similar situations have occurred over the years,” said Parker. “There has been quite a lull over the last few years, but there have been acts of violence at the Eglinton Avenue [courthouse] several years ago. One young guy even had his arm broken, but they were too scared to call the police because of the threats made by those responsible.”
Parker said he was a victim of a home invasion in 2007 — around the time he was appointed to the law society’s paralegal standing committee. In that case, a gun was involved.
“I worked from home and two guys came to my office under the guise of wanting to speak to me about a speeding ticket, and when they came in … they [said they] were there to tell me that I had to leave the paralegal standing committee,” Parker said. “One of the guys lifted his T-shirt and there was a revolver stuck in his belt. I ushered them out and called the police and they shut down the condo [in which I lived].”
He also talked of a paralegal once being threatened in an Eglinton Avenue West parking lot around a decade ago.
Parker suspects the same people are behind these incidents, that they are likely having others carry out attacks and that they have been “unlawfully providing legal services.”
Parker was asked if the LSO has done enough over the years to address the issue.
“No, in my opinion, no, they have not,” he said, later adding he hopes this latest incident will lead to more action on the part of the LSO.
“I’d like to think that they are doing their best. Their resources have improved over the years. The staff has increased, so I like to think that more effort is going into it. But maybe this will be the impetus that they need. It has to be brought from the back burner to the front burner.”
The LSO’s Tonkin wouldn’t comment on the incidents reported in the news, suggesting The Lawyer’s Daily contact Toronto Police.
Police refused to provide details, including the identity of victims.
When area paralegals We Win or It’s Free were contacted, a woman picked up the phone and was asked about the incidents and if they, too, had been impacted.
“We’re not going to get involved in that,” she said before abruptly hanging up.
Source: The Lawyer’s Daily