Annual Report 2011/2012

  • August 13, 2012

Submitted by Jitesh Mistry

Summary of Activities

Number of Meetings Held: 8

October 4, 2011
Guest Speakers: Mr. Justice Bruce Greyell, Arbitrator James Dorsey, QC, Shona Moore, QC, and Don Jordan, QC
"Has Labour Arbitration Gone “Off-Trajectory”? A British Columbia response to Ontario Chief Justice Winkler's comments about the state of labour arbitration". 

November 10, 2011
Guest Speakers: Peter Gall QC, Neena Sharma, Diane MacDonald and Catherine Boies Parker 
"The Supreme Court of Canada's Fraser decision: What it means for unions and employers". 

November 29, 2011
Guest Speaker: Michelle Alman
"The Employment Standards Act: Recent Cases and Common Pitfalls Labour Lawyers Need to Know About." (jointly with the Employment Law Section)

January 18, 2012
Guest Speakers: Sandra Bannister, QC, Greg Heywood, Rick Edgar, Gavin Hume, QC, Stan Lanyon, QC
Ethics in the Day-to-Day Practice of Labour Law: A discussion of real life scenarios.

February 22, 2012
Guest Speakers: Carman Overholt, QC, Lorene Novakowski, Sebastien Anderson, and Robyn Trask 
"Beyond Lougheed Imports: The Future of Social Media in the Workplace." 

April 10, 2012
Guest Speakers: David McPhillips, Emily Burke, Wayne Moore, and John Steeves 
"The Arbitrator's Panel: Current Challenges in the Arbitration Process in BC." 

May 4, 2012
Guest Speakers: Brent Mullin, Mike Fleming, Allison Matacheskie, Debbie Cameron, and Ken Saunders
"The Bear Pit - Labour Relations Board Update and Efforts to Create More Efficient Processes for Handling Disputes."

June 6, 2012
Guset Speakers: Honourable Warren K. Winkler, Chief Justice of Ontario (introduced by Peter Gall QC & John Rogers QC)
"Labour Arbitration and Conflict Resolution: Back to our Roots." 

Comments and Observations of the Chair

This past 2011/12 section year has seen the start of (what we hope will be) an ongoing dialogue within the labour bar regarding how we can return to the original purposes of labour adjudication as a speedy, efficient and final process for the resolution of industrial relations disputes. This theme was inspired by the recent comments of Ontario Chief Justice Warren Winkler to the effect that labour arbitration has gone “off-trajectory” by being bound up in overly legalistic and time-consuming processes. 

The discussion within the labour bar regarding whether labour adjudication has, indeed, gone “off-trajectory”, began with a distinguished October 4, 2011 panel convened precisely to discuss Chief Justice Winkler's comments. This panel was comprised of Mr. Justice Bruce Greyell of the BC Supreme Court, Arbitrator James Dorsey, Q.C., and two experienced labour law practitioners, Shona Moore, Q.C. and Don Jordan, Q.C.

This theme continued on April 10, 2012, with a labour arbitrators panel that addressed the current challenges in the labour arbitration process in British Columbia. Panel members included David McPhillips, Emily Burke, Wayne Moore and John Steeves. 

The Labour Section's annual “LRB Bearpit”, the yearly dialogue between the Labour Relations Board and the labour bar, continued with this theme on May 4, 2012. 

We concluded this theme of dialogue and reflection on the challenges in labour law with a highly successful annual dinner featuring keynote speaker, Chief Justice Winkler on June 6, 2012 at the Law Courts Inn. Chief Justice Winkler was introduced by Peter Gall, Q.C. and John Rogers, Q.C. This event attracted an impressive turnout of well over 100 attendees and featured a lively question and answer between Chief Justice Winkler and the many distinguished judges, arbitrators and lawyers in attendance. In particular, we thank the many distinguished members of the Bench for their attendance and participation in this dialogue at the annual dinner, including Chief Justice Winkler and former labour lawyers Madam Justice Mary Saunders, Mr. Justice Ian Donald, Madam Justice Miriam Gropper, Mr. Justice Bruce Greyell and Judge Patricia Janzen. 

We also addressed various other issues in an active year for the Labour Section, including: “The Supreme Court of Canada's Fraser Decision: What it means for Unions and Employers” on November 10, 2011; a presentation on the Employment Standards Act and “Common Pitfalls Labour Lawyers Need to Know About” on November 29, 2011 (jointly with the Employment Law Section); “Ethics in the Day-to-Day Practice of Labour Law: A Discussion of Real Life Scenarios” on January 18, 2012; and “Beyond Lougheed Imports: The Future of Social Media in the Workplace” on February 22, 2012.

We are sad to see that Co-Chair Clayton Jones of Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP has completed his time on the Labour Section Executive and thank Clayton for his tireless efforts. We also welcome Mark Colavecchia of Harris & Company LLP as the new member of the Executive, filling the position of Secretary. Mark joins the continuing members of the Executive, Co-Chair Jitesh Mistry of Black Gropper: Labour and Employment Lawyers, Co-Chair Rosalie Cress of Heenan Blaikie LLP and Treasurer Robyn Trask, legal counsel to the British Columbia Teachers' Federation. 

The following section year jumps off from this previous year's discussion of the challenges facing labour adjudication and moves on to the potential solutions to return labour law to its roots as a speedy, efficient and final process for resolving industrial relations disputes. We hope to announce forthcoming meeting dates in the next several weeks. We also invite any members of the Labour Section with thoughts or ideas regarding potential meeting topics to come forward and contact any member of the Labour Section Executive. 

Yours truly,

Jitesh Mistry
Co-Chair, CBA-BC Provincial Labour Section