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 Investigation – 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

Electricity Net Metering and Feed-in Tariffs, and the Law of Unintended Consequences

November 13, 2013


There is no magic solution to the damage that our use of energy inflicts on the earth’s climate, other than conservation.  Every other strategy has its downside of unintended consequences.  That includes the use of renewable generation technologies. There is a growing push from US utilities to flatten out block or multi-tiered electricity rates to […]

The BC Polygamy Case: Be Careful What you Criminalize

February 11, 2011


Progressive groups are lined up on either side of the ongoing court hearing in BC about the constitutionality of Canada’s anti-polygamy law. That is not surprising, as the issues are complex and the best outcome is not at all obvious. What is Criminalized The crime of polygamy may invoke the image of coerced marriages of […]

Posted in: Law