“Fair” Elections Act – Government Backing Down on Disenfranchising Canadians?

April 2, 2014


I was legal counsel in a challenge to the introduction of mandatory Voter ID in Canadian federal elections.  We argued that the government needed to provide a fail-safe mechanism to protect people’s right to vote.  We said that people without the necessary ID should be able to swear a declaration confirming their identity and residence.  […]

Posted in: Law, Politics

The climate impact of wind farms?

March 2, 2014


One aspect of wind-powered generation which has gotten little attention is its potential impact on the earth’s winds.  Discussions of this technology proceed as though the wind were an infinite resource.  This is a bit like our attitude about dumping waste into the oceans as though their ability to accept pollution were limitless. What wind […]

Supreme Court confirms union’s right to employee contact information

February 22, 2014


A few days ago, the Supreme Court of Canada handed down a decision confirming a union’s right to personal contact information about the people it represents, in Bernard v. AG of Canada and PIPSC Under federal legislation, Elizabeth Bernard was able to opt out of membership in the union representing her government service bargaining unit, […]

Posted in: Law

Disclipline Investigations – when the police are also involved

February 9, 2014


Some of the trickiest situations unions face when representing members facing disciplinary investigations by their employers arise where the same activity has attracted the attention of the police.  That is because the rules surrounding police investigations and workplace investigations are incompatible. One of our most fundamental democratic rights, enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights […]

Posted in: Law

Utility Regulation Demystified – Part 2, the Energy Policy Dilemma

January 26, 2014


The energy sector is one of the most complex and difficult areas of policy in the world today.  Energy policy-makers and regulators face a three-cornered dilemma. The imperatives of each corner tend to defeat the others. The competing objectives are: 1.  maintaining sufficient reliable energy supply 2.  maintaining affordability and accessibility 3.  mitigating climate change […]

Utility Regulation Demystified – Part 1, Origins and Basic Principles

January 25, 2014


Despite a wave of deregulation which came into vogue in the early 1980’s, many important services and systems we all rely upon are overseen by regulatory agencies and tribunals who set the prices for services, determine minimum service standards, and approve major contracts, projects and capital investments.  Here in British Columbia, for example, our electricity […]

Essential Services and The FortisBC Inc. Lockout of IBEW 213

January 12, 2014


British Columbia deals with essential service labour disputes differently from most jurisdictions.  Rather than the familiar game of industrial “chicken” (where unions press their strike actions as far as they can before government intervenes with back-to-work orders and lopsided arbitration) we have a “controlled strike” mechanism.  The Labour Relations Board designates specified levels of services […]

Posted in: Law