Ted's Blog

Thinking On Your Feet: How to Answer Difficult Questions

The following is a reprint of an article by Brett & Kate McKay that appears in the Art of Manliness web site.

“Why didn’t Acme Co. accept our offer?”

“Why should I hire you over somebody else?”

“Where do you see this relationship going?”

“Where do babies come from?”

Questions. Sometimes they’re as innocuous as “What’s up?” and other times they get our hearts pumping and our mouths stuttering.

Part of being a man is knowing how to improvise, and part of improvisation is being able to think on your feet. It’s a skill that includes the ability to give impromptu remarks, as well as to answer unexpected and difficult questions.

People ask pointed questions to obtain information, but there are often other reasons behind their queries as well. What they really want, in many cases, is to get a feel for your attitude towards a certain subject, and how calm, confident, and trustworthy you seem.

So the ability to answer difficult questions is built on two tenets: 1) possessing ample knowledge and giving the right information, and 2) delivering that information in a poised manner.

The number of potential questions you might be asked is so infinite and context-specific that it’s not possible to learn a scripted response for each. But it is possible to hone your improvisation skills by learning methods that will allow you to give a smooth answer, no matter what you’re asked.

These methods come from the surprisingly handy Thinking on Your Feet by Marian K. Woodall and we’ll be sharing them with you today.

Is The Duty To Accommodate Less Onerous For Probationary Employees? Possibly...

A recent case from the Alberta Court of Appeal considered this question in the context of an employee with Asperger's syndrome working at a call centre but, unfortunately, did not provide a definitive answer. Although the decision suggests that the duty to accommodate can be less onerous for probationary and short service employees, the threshold for establishing undue hardship is onerous and is always judged on a case by case basis. Therefore, employers should carefully consider the circumstances before taking the position that accommodation cannot continue (or commence). Read More...

Avoiding The "Long-Haul" Begins With The Agreement

It all starts with the agreement.

Probationary periods are a useful tool for employers assessing the suitability of new hires.

Generally, a valid agreement setting out a probationary period allows the employer to dismiss an employee during the probationary period without meeting the high threshold of just cause. The decision to terminate a probationary employee will typically be upheld if the decision was not arbitrary, discriminatory or done in bad faith (subject to the terms of any applicable collective agreement or possible human rights issues).

Although it is easier to terminate the employment of a probationary employee, a probationary period can only be relied on if it is properly set out within the initial employment agreement.

How to Contact a Busy Person

The following is a reprint of an article by John Corcoran that appears in the Art of Manliness web site.

Let’s get straight to the point, shall we?

Busy people can be incredibly difficult to connect with.

You know the drill. You send an email, then you wait. And wait. And wait some more. You get no reply, so you try again. More of the same. Eventually, you give up.

If this sounds familiar, well, you’re not alone. Most men have struggled, at some point in their career, to try to connect with someone who is incredibly busy. Whether it’s a potential employer, a possible mentor, a dream client, or even just to connect with a girl so you can ask her out on a date, contacting a busy person can be very difficult.

Does that mean you give up? Heck no. Often, there is a good reason why busy people are so busy. Namely, it is because they are successful, and they’re successful because they are smart and well-connected and have access to resources or knowledge that might make all the difference in the world to you…if you can just break through.

But if you’re like most men, you’ve struggled with trying to figure out how to go about making that contact. How can you get the person’s attention? What should you say and how do you say it? Where do you even start? Should you follow-up if they ignore you? And new means of communication in the form of social media, Skype, text messaging, and blog commenting has made this issue even more confusing and challenging.

Throughout my career, I’ve tested just about every different approach for contacting busy people. I’ve also spent the past 2+ years reaching out to very busy entrepreneurs and authors to appear as guests on my podcast. I’ve tried techniques that work like a charm and other strategies that are guaranteed to bomb. Below, I include the best of what has worked for me.

Art of Manliness has previously covered how to write an email that will get a response. In this article, however, I want to share more of an overarching approach which can be (and often is) implemented using email, but which is also medium-agnostic. Email is what I’ve used the most and is still an effective vehicle. However, you should also consider other approaches such as face-to-face and social media where appropriate. To contact AoM’s reclusive McKays, you’ll even need to be willing to write a good old-fashioned letter! (Word is if they start getting too much snail mail to handle, they’re going to move to requiring messages by homing pigeon.)

Although it can feel like a daunting task trying to connect with a busy person, the rewards when you succeed can often be game-changing. You just have to be smart about how you make your first move.

Supreme Court Of Canada Finds Constructive Dismissal Where Administrative Suspension Is Not Justified And Reasonable

constructive 2
The Supreme Court of Canada has overturned the New Brunswick Court of Queen's Bench and the New Brunswick Court of Appeal in a new landmark constructive dismissal case: Potter v. New Brunswick Legal Aid Services Commission, 2015 SCC 10.

Potter was the executive director of the New Brunswick Legal Aid Services Commission (the "Commission"). Approximately mid-way through the seven year contract term, in the spring of 2009, Potter and the Board of Directors (the "Board") began to negotiate a buyout of the contract. In October 2009, before an agreement was reached, Potter's physician advised him to take time off work for medical reasons for a period of one month. This medical leave was extended until January 4, 2010 and later to January 18, 2010. The Board unilaterally decided on January 5, 2010, without informing Potter, that if a buyout agreement was not reached by January 11, 2010, it would request that the Lieutenant-Governor in Council revoke Potter's appointment pursuant to s. 39(4) of the Legal Aid Act, RSNB 1973 c I-13 (the "Act").

On January 11, 2010, the Board requested the dismissal and forwarded a letter to Potter advising him not to return to work until further notice. A replacement was designated, but Potter's wages continued to be paid. Despite his request, Potter was not provided with reasons for his suspension. On March 9, 2010, Potter commenced a legal action claiming constructive dismissal.

The trial judge found that the Commission had the statutory authority to place Potter on an administrative suspension with pay and that this was not a constructive dismissal despite its indefinite term. The Court of Appeal upheld that decision.

On appeal, the Supreme Court of Canada (the "Court") found that the Commission had constructively dismissed Potter. Drawing largely on Farber v. Royal Trust Co., [1997] 1 S.C.R. 846, the Supreme Court of Canada discussed the two forms of constructive dismissal:

No Punches Thrown, But Employee Properly Dismissed For Yelling, Swearing And Abusive Conduct

An employee need not physically assault a co-worker in order to be dismissed for workplace violence, an arbitrator's decision shows. Read More...

Jurisdiction Of Employment Agreement Considered

An Ontario court held in Christmas v Fort McKay First Nation, 2014 ONSC 373 that it had no jurisdiction over a wrongful dismissal claim arising out of an employment contract made by email and performed in Alberta despite the fact that the agreement stated that the laws of Ontario were to govern the agreement. The contractual choice of law clause governed the law to be applied in interpreting the contract, but did not confer jurisdiction on the Ontario courts to undertake that interpretation. The action lacked a real and substantial connection with Ontario and that conclusion was not altered by the fact that the plaintiff had, in Ontario, made a counterproposal to the Alberta employer's initial offer. The acceptance was received in Alberta. Read More...

SCC Clarifies Constructive Dismissal And Employee Suspensions

A new Supreme Court of Canada decision provides guidance with regard to constructive dismissals and employee suspensions. In particular, employers must provide a business justification for administrative suspensions with pay or risk being deemed to have constructively dismissed the suspended employee.

Constructive dismissal arises when an employee who has not been expressly terminated claims the employer's actions amount to a repudiation of the employee's employment contract. These cases result in a claim for pay-in-lieu of termination notice, and sometimes, depending on the severity of the employer's actions, aggravated damages.

In a non-unionized employment context, employee suspensions often create uncertainty as to whether the employer has authority to suspend the employee or whether the suspension amounts to constructive dismissal.

While the Supreme Court of Canada's (the SCC's) latest decision and comments do not answer all questions or provide any new rights with regard to constructive dismissal and employee suspensions, they provide a new analytical framework and some clarity on these topics, which is important because the stakes are often life-altering when an employee claims constructive dismissal—a big pay out or a deemed voluntary resignation.

Recent Arbitral Decision Suggests There Are Objective Limits To An Employee’s Right To Religious Accommodation

Increasingly, employers are being faced with requests from employees requesting religious accommodation on various grounds, including paid time off for religious holidays; extended religious leaves of absence for religious pilgrimages; and modification of scheduling requirements. With workplaces rapidly becoming more diverse and multicultural, it is often difficult for employers to ascertain whether or not they are required to accommodate such requests without facing significant human rights damages. A recent Ontario arbitral decision holds out a ray of hope for employers that there are indeed limits to establishing a prima facie case of discrimination on the basis of religion or creed. Read More...

Nap Like Salvador Dali: Get Creative Insights on the Boundary Between Sleep and Wakefulness

The following is a reprint of an article by Brett & Kate McKay that appears in the Art of Manliness web site.

Eccentric artist Salvador Dali believed that one of the secrets to becoming a great painter was what he called “slumber with a key.” “Slumber with a key” was an afternoon siesta designed to last less than a single second.

To accomplish this micro nap, Dali would sit in a chair with his arms resting on the armrests and his wrists dangling over them. He held a heavy metal key between the thumb and forefinger of his left hand, and placed an upside-down plate on the floor directly below the key. The instant Dali dozed off, the key would slip through his fingers, clang the plate, and awaken him from his nascent slumber. In that moment, Dali observed, one walked “in equilibrium on the taut and invisible wire that separates sleep from waking.” The artist recommended this practice to anyone who worked with their mind, believing that the tiny nap “revivified” one’s whole “physical and physic being” and left you invigorated and inspired for an afternoon of creative labor.

Dali said that he had learned the “slumber with a key” trick from the Capuchin monks and that other artists he knew also used it.

The secret Dali had discovered involves entering a state called hypnagogia. Today we’ll discover what’s behind it, as well as how you too can discover new dimensions and insights along the boundary between wakefulness and sleep.

Trump Picks El Chapo To Run D.E.A.

el chapo
NEW YORK (The Borowitz Report)—Just days after picking Betsy DeVos to run the Department of Education, President-elect Donald Trump has tapped another wealthy outsider by naming Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán to head the Drug Enforcement Administration. Read More...

The Right Way to Resist Trump

Five years ago, I warned about the risk of a Donald J. Trump presidency. Most people laughed. They thought it inconceivable.

I was not particularly prescient; I come from Italy, and I had already seen this movie, starring Silvio Berlusconi, who led the Italian government as prime minister for a total of nine years between 1994 and 2011. I knew how it could unfold.

Now that Mr. Trump has been elected president, the Berlusconi parallel could offer an important lesson in how to avoid transforming a razor-thin victory into a two-decade affair. If you think presidential term limits and Mr. Trump’s age could save the country from that fate, think again. His tenure could easily turn into a Trump dynasty.

Donald Trump’s First, Alarming Week as President-Elect

It’s been one week since an unusually subdued Donald Trump gave his victory speech in Manhattan. “For those who have chosen not to support me in the past—of which there were a few people,” Trump said, eliciting laughter from the crowd of ecstatic supporters wearing red Make America Great Again hats, “I’m reaching out to you for your guidance and your help so that we can work together and unify our great country.” After running a campaign defined more by whom and what he opposed, Trump’s remarks were out of character and welcome.

A week later, those words seem hollow. The first sign that our easily distracted President-elect remained unchanged from the campaign came on Thursday. For twenty-four hours, Trump had shown some restraint. His victory speech raised hopes that, despite the evidence of his behaviour on the campaign trail, he might be capable of magnanimity. His appearance with President Obama the following day was similarly restrained, but it was marred by the fact that he refused to bring his press pool with him to Washington, and by a lie he told in his second sentence spoken in the Oval Office: “This was a meeting that was going to last for maybe ten or fifteen minutes.” It was actually scheduled for much longer. Just after 9 p.m., back in Trump Tower, the President-elect tweeted about his frustrations with protesters and the news media: “Just had a very open and successful presidential election. Now professional protesters, incited by the media, are protesting. Very unfair!”

Obama Reckons With a Trump Presidency

The morning after Donald Trump was elected President of the United States, Barack Obama summoned staff members to the Oval Office. Some were fairly junior and had never been in the room before. They were sombre, hollowed out, some fighting tears, humiliated by the defeat, fearful of autocracy’s moving vans pulling up to the door. Although Obama and his people admit that the election results caught them completely by surprise—“We had no plan for this,” one told me—the President sought to be reassuring. Read More...

Ted sponsors Rock for RAP.

Ted sponsors charitable event.

University of British Columbia reasonably accommodated researcher with severe mouse allergy

The duty to accommodate is a difficult process because it is uncertain. Whether an employer has met its duty to accommodate under human rights law requires an individualized assessment on a case-by-case basis. In addition, the standard of "undue hardship" is a high and moving target, and will depend on the employer's size, nature of operations, resources and other relevant factors. A recent decision, however, may have moved the target closer to "reasonableness" than "the point of undue hardship". Read More...

How to Use Body Language to Create a Dynamite First Impression

The following is a reprint of an article by Brett & Kate McKay that appears in the Art of Manliness web site.

Last week we talked about why your first impression matters — how amazingly quickly other people form one of you, and how difficult it is to overcome that initial assessment.

We also explained how first impressions aren’t about trying to be someone you’re not, but getting your conversational strategies and body language to match and enhance your true feelings, values, and personality. Sometimes we act in ways that contradict how we really feel, and create barriers to people accessing our best qualities. Improving your first impression clears these obstacles, increasing the chances that new acquaintances will be able to connect with you and better get to know who you really are. Nailing the “mechanics” of a good first impression gives you the assurance that its outcome — good or bad — will be based on actual compatibility, rather than a misfiring of external cues.

There are two components to creating a positive first impression: what you say (conversation) and how you act (body language). Both components are important (you can read more about the art of conversation here), but the latter is actually much more influential.

Nonverbal cues have 4X the impact on your impression than your words do. Thus, how you stand, sit, gesture, and generally hold yourself can either significantly enhance or detract from the overall first impression you make on others.

In order to make your body language a first impression booster, you want it to communicate 3 main things: openness, confidence, and interest.

Be careful what you wish for–you might get it!

When it seems like nothing you wish for comes true, ask yourself, “Am I dreaming big enough to last a lifetime?” Read More...

Why Your First Impression Matters

The following is a reprint of an article by Brett & Kate McKay that appears in the Art of Manliness web site.

You meet a woman at a party and think you have a good conversation. But when you later send her a text, she doesn’t respond.

You go into a job interview feeling confident and leave feeling like you aced it. But while you keep looking at your phone, expecting a callback, it never comes.

You meet a guy at a party you feel you have a lot in common with and could become a good friend. But at the end of the night, you don’t exchange information in order to get together again.

Have situations like these ever happened to you? From your end, you feel like the interaction went well, but it doesn’t seem like the other person felt the same connection. It’s confusing and frustrating.

Or maybe you actually rarely feel like your encounters with new people go well in the first place. You often feel awkward when meeting new folks, and thus aren’t particularly surprised when they aren’t interested in getting to know you better.

Either way, the issue may have to do with the first impression you give other people.

From cashiers, to other parents at school, to someone you say hello to at the gym, every day you’re making contact with people for the first time; it happens so often you may not even really register these encounters. But each interaction carries with it an opportunity and a possibility — every person you meet is a potential new friend, lover, or client.

Whether these possibilities turn into something more often hinges on the first impression you make — on whether you’re able to make a connection and inspire the new contact to want to get to know you better.

Do you know how you’d like to come off to others, how you really do, and how in-sync those two realities actually are?

You may not have ever thought too much about your first impression. Maybe you think changing yours would mean acting fake, or that judging someone at a glance is superficial and inaccurate anyway.

Yet none of those things are true.

Today we’ll clear up some common misconceptions about first impressions, and discuss why mastering the art of making a good one is not only crucial for romantic, professional, and social success, but can actually help you be more authentic with others.

Failure To Mitigate

Aylsworth v Law Office of Harvey Storm, 2016 ONSC 3938 is an interesting case that further defines the boundaries of what type of job employees can reasonably reject without failing in their duty to mitigate their wrongful dismissal damages. Read More...

Build Your Wealth: Graduate from a Paycheck Mentality to a Net Worth Mentality

The following is a reprint of an article by Brett & Kate McKay that appears in the Art of Manliness web site.

Do you feel like you’re not getting ahead with your finances? That no matter how hard you work or how much extra money you earn, you’re still in the same place as you were a year or even five years ago? It may be that you have the wrong mindset about your finances.

The authors of The Bogleheads’ Guide to Investing (a book inspired by the sage investing principles of Jack Bogle) describe two mentalities when it comes to personal finance: the paycheck mentality and the net worth mentality. A person with a paycheck mentality just focuses on increasing their income in order to increase their wealth. A person with a net worth mentality also seeks to boost their income, but builds their wealth through saving and investing as well.

Pretty straightforward, right? The second path seems like the obvious tack to take. And yet many people are stuck in a paycheck mentality.

The problem, according to the authors, is that it’s easy to conflate income and wealth:

“From the time we are old enough to understand, society conditions us to confuse income with wealth. We believe that doctors, CEOs, professional athletes, and movie actors are rich because they earn high incomes. We judge the economic success of our friends, relatives, and colleagues at work by how much money they earn. Six- and seven-figure salaries are regarded as status symbols of wealth. Although there is a definite relationship between income and wealth, they are very separate and distinct economic measures. Income is how much money you earn in a given period of time. If you earn a million in a year and spend it all, you add nothing to your wealth. You’re just living lavishly. Those who focus only on net income as a measure of economic success are ignoring the most important measuring stick of financial independence. It’s not how much you make, it’s how much you keep.”

Before I read this, I understood the importance of saving money and living frugally, but I hadn’t really thought of income and wealth as distinct concepts. Consequently, I was more focused on increasing my income as opposed to increasing my net worth. I had a paycheck mentality.

After reading the above words of wisdom, and learning more about the best practices of personal finance, I started shifting to a net worth mentality. My primary goal now isn’t just to make more money, but to keep more of it so I can create long-lasting assets and security for myself and my family. Below is a guide to help you make your own shift from a paycheck mentality to a net worth mentality.

Supreme Court of Canada holds vigorous outspoken good faith criticism of courts and decisions not contempt.

"N‑D was the spokesperson for a student organization that held protests and formed picket lines in Quebec’s various post‑secondary institutions over proposed increases in university tuition fees. M, a student, obtained a provisional interlocutory injunction that mandated free access to the facilities in which classes for M’s program were held. In a television interview he gave with another student leader, N‑D stated that such attempts to force students back to class do not work, that a minority of students use the courts to circumvent the majority’s collective decision to go on strike, and that picket lines are an entirely legitimate means to ensure respect of the vote to strike. M filed a motion for contempt against N‑D for his comments in the interview. N‑D was found guilty of contempt of court under art. 50 para. 1 of the Code of Civil Procedure and sentenced to 120 hours of community service to be completed within six months under the supervision of a probation officer. The Court of Appeal set the conviction and sentence aside and entered an acquittal."

S.C.C. held (with joint reasons for judgment by Abella and Gascon JJ., with whom three judges concurred; concurring reasons by Moldaver J.; dissenting reasons by Wagner J. (with whom two other judges concurred) that the appeal is dismissed.

SK Court of Appeal rules Labour Relations Board breached procedural fairness by consulting a website to support its conclusion without asking the parties for further submissions

The Court of Queen’s Bench dismissed two applications to quash a decision of the Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board. The two appellants argued that the board’s decision breached procedural fairness falling into two categories: the board conducted ex parte research following its oral decision; and the board improperly heard the parties because one member was not physically present when the board adjourned to deliberate and was without materials that had been filed during oral argument. The reasonableness of the board’s decision was also questioned by the appellants. A grocery store changed operation with the former and latter being covered by different certification orders. The unions applied to the see who would represent the employees of the store. The oral hearing was adjourned to hear a final witness. The board found that s. 37 of The Trade Union Act applied such that the new operator of the store was the successor. The Queen’s Bench concluded that the board’s review of one of the union’s websites did not result in any change to its approach although it was a breach. Read More...

Supreme Court of Canada holds trial judges can only depart from plea bargains/joint submissions when they would bring the administration of justice into disrepute or would otherwise be contrary to the public interest.

get out of jail
"A‑C attended a drop‑in centre which provided assistance to people suffering from mental health and addiction problems. He had a long‑standing mental health disorder and substance abuse issues. On February 9, 2013, A‑C punched a regular volunteer at the drop‑in centre, G, who fell, hit his head on the pavement, and died. A‑C was 28 years old and had a prior criminal record. After his arrest, he was taken to a mental health facility. Following his discharge, A‑C breached his bail conditions and was held in custody thereafter until his sentencing hearing, a period of approximately 11 months. After several days of trial, A‑C pleaded guilty to manslaughter for his role in the death of G. The Crown and the defence made a joint submission on sentence, proposing a further 18 months’ in custody with no period of probation to follow. The trial judge applied a “fitness test” to the joint submission and rejected it. He concluded that an appropriate sentence was two years less a day, factoring in deductions for pre‑sentence custody, and added a three year probation order. The Court of Appeal unanimously dismissed A‑C’s sentence appeal on the basis that the sentence imposed was fit in the circumstances."

The S.C.C. (7:0)
allowed the appeal, varied the sentence to bring it into conformity with the joint submission. Read More...

The Churchill School of Adulthood Conclusion: Thought + Action = An Awesome Adulthood

The following is a reprint of an article by Brett & Kate McKay that appears in the Art of Manliness web site.

Churchill’s schooldays formed “the only barren and unhappy period” of his life. Bright and imaginative, he excelled in a few classes, but struggled mightily in those he found dull — which was most of them. As a consequence, he regularly failed his examinations and ended up at the very bottom of his class. The experience left him “considerably discouraged” as to his future prospects:

“Except in Fencing, in which I had won the Public School Championship, I had achieved no distinction. All my contemporaries and even younger boys seemed in every way better adapted to the conditions of our little world. They were far better both at the games and at the lessons. It is not pleasant to feel oneself so completely outclassed and left behind at the very beginning of the race.”

The one bright spot during Churchill’s youth was his discovery of the wonder of books. After flunking Greek and Latin, he was bumped to a “remedial” course to learn “mere” English. His instructor, Robert Somervell, recognized Churchill’s potential and offered him encouragement. His mentorship ultimately helped change the course of Churchill’s life, and Winston would later profess to being greatly indebted to his old teacher.

Somervell taught his eager pupil how to analyze and structure a well-formed sentence and stoked Winston’s nascent love of reading. Churchill began to consume every biography he could find and made his way through the works of William Wordsworth, Charles Dickens, and Shakespeare; he would ultimately read all the bard’s writings and memorize much of his verse. As Manchester writes:

“Winston was being taught to teach himself. He would always be a dud in the classroom and a failure in examinations, but in his own time, on his own terms, he would become one of the most learned statesmen of the coming century.”

An Enduring Autodidact

Churchill’s program of self-learning really kicked into gear when he was stationed in India as a young officer. As he neared his twenty-second birthday, “the desire for learning came upon me. I began to feel myself wanting in even the vaguest knowledge about many large spheres of thought.” To build himself a sharp, expansive, top-rate brain, Churchill “resolved to read history, philosophy, economics, and things like that,” and dedicated 4-5 hours a day to the task. He started by devouring Plato’s Republic, Edward Gibbons’ 8-volume Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, and 12 volumes of Thomas Babington Macaulay’s historical works and essays. Churchill reported that he “rode triumphantly through” each tome and “enjoyed it all.”

As Winston’s appetite for learning grew, he began “to read three or four books at a time to avoid tedium” and to explore a wide variety of subjects and authors. Manchester details his program of study:

“he was poring over Schopenhauer, Malthus, Darwin, Aristotle (on politics only), Henry Fawcett’s Political Economy, William Lecky’s European Morals and Rise and Influence of Rationalism, Pascal’s Provincial Letters, Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations, Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, Liang’s Modern Science and Modern Thought, Victor-Henri Rochefort’s Memoirs, the memoirs of the Duc de Saint Simon, and Henry Hallam’s Constitutional History. Incredibly, he asked his mother to send him all one hundred volumes of the Annual Register, the record of British public events founded by Burke. He explained that he wanted to know ‘the detailed Parliamentary history…of the last 100 years…’”

In using these legislative texts, Churchill would first decide how he felt about an issue, and then read the record of Parliament’s debates on it, making notes in the margin as he went along and checking whether his opinion stood up to scrutiny. Through this practice, he hoped:

“to build up a scaffolding of logical and consistent views which will perhaps tend to the creation of a logical and consistent mind. Of course the Annual Register is valuable only for its facts. A good knowledge of these would arm me with a sharp sword. Macaulay, Gibbon, Plato etc must train the muscles to wield that sword to the greatest effect.”

Churchill aimed to enter politics within a few years, and he was preparing his mind to flourish in the brutal game to come. As such, he left genres like fiction and poetry off the docket during this time. But later in life, he devoured such works and especially enjoyed the novels of Twain, Melville, and H.G. Wells, as well as the poetry of Lord Byron. He also expanded into philosophical tomes that were a little less dry and a bit more metaphysical — essays that invigorated his Romanticism from the likes of Emerson and Thoreau. Churchill’s intellectual interests were truly keen, all encompassing, and enduring; until the last decade of his life, his nightstand remained crowded with a stack of constantly refreshed books he had checked out from the library.

Winston’s autodidacticism broadened his mind, gave him insights into every issue and conflict native to politics specifically, and the human condition generally, and honed his capacity for critical thinking. “After a lifetime of reading,” Manchester writes, “he possessed the acumen to reduce complex intellectual systems and constructs and theories to their most basic essences.” Dr. R.V. Jones, a scientist with the RAF’s intelligence division, made a similar observation:

“He understood the essence of supreme decisions: yea or nay, right or left, advance or retreat. He knew the strengths and weaknesses of experts. He knew how easy it is for the man at the summit to receive too rosy a picture from his Intelligence advisors…Alone among politicians he valued science and technology at something approaching their true worth…and he had for seven years been warning his countrymen of the very disaster that had now befallen them. He had even, forty years before, pictured London in the position it might shortly face.”

Churchill surrounded himself with those who also possessed quick and curious minds — those who could stimulate his thinking. He had little patience for the dull and vacuous; getting stuck in a conversation with such a person would precipitate one of his “ruthless breaks”! Even those with views diametrically opposed to his own fascinated him, something one of England’s most famous anti-war poets, Siegfried Sassoon, discovered when he met the country’s foremost proponent of militarism. To his surprise, Sassoon found that Churchill had actually memorized a whole volume of his pacifist poetry and was sincerely “interested in my point of view.” When an officer later said to Churchill: “I should leave that man alone if I were you. He might start writing a poem about you,” Churchill instantly replied, “I am not a bit afraid of Siegfried Sassoon. That man can think. I am afraid only of people who cannot think.”

Action, Action This Day, Action Every Day

An active mind was not the only prerequisite to earning Churchill’s respect. While a capacity for intelligent thinking was certainly important, the real test was whether or not thoughts were turned into action. As Manchester puts it, “Men who have done something with their lives interest him — indeed, they are the only men who do.”

Those who feigned contempt for public affairs, when they were really just too scared to enter the arena themselves, Churchill derided as “flaccid sea anemones of virtue who can hardly wobble an antenna in the waters of negativity.” And he had little patience for those who forwarded empty, vague, unrealistic social and political theories that were designed more to flatter the pundit’s pride and pacify the public than to actually be put into practice. As Manchester explains, Churchill “was a man of action: state the problem, find a solution, and solve the problem.”

Winston not only gauged the realm of politics by the standard of action, but that of morality as well. In this he was an Aristotelian: virtue was a habit gained through constant practice. Words and thoughts — professions of belief and principle — were a good start, but could only be judged by the fruits that followed.

Action wasn’t just the rubric by which he measured others, but the standard by which he judged himself. “Every night,” he said, “I try myself by court martial to see if I have done anything effective during the day. I don’t mean just pawing the ground — anyone can go through the motions — but something really effective.”

Churchill’s action-oriented philosophy is what helped turn the tide of the war. As Manchester writes, Winston understood that victory could only be won “by the vigorous exercise of his imagination and the imposition of his will by the only means he knew — action, action this day, action every day.” When Churchill first took the reins of the government, his energy absolutely electrified its headquarters and transformed an operation that had formerly been languishing and listless:

“Churchill arrived on the scene like a summer squall at a sailboat regatta. Whitehall was galvanized, and the office at No. 10 was pandemonium. Bells were ringing constantly, telephones of various colors were being installed in every nook at No. 10, and the new prime minister was attaching maroon labels demanding ‘Action This Day’ or green ones saying ‘Report in Three Days’ to an endless stream of directives that were being dictated to typists in the Cabinet Room, the P.M.’s bedroom, and even his bathroom, with replies expected within minutes. Ministers, generals, and senior civil servants appeared and departed within minutes. Working hours began early each morning and ended after midnight. ‘The pace became frantic,’ another private secretary, John Martin, recalled. ‘We realized we were at war.’”

Churchill’s penchant for action turned the tide of his life as well, and served as the lynchpin in making it what it was. Anthony Storr, an eminent British psychiatrist, posited that the source of Churchill’s strength lay in his “inner world of make-believe;” but Winston was not content to let his dreams merely amuse him, in the way of an impotent Walter Mitty. Rather, Manchester writes, he was driven “to complete the circuit between the goings-on in his mind and the external world. Once he generated an idea, he felt compelled to actualize it.”

Churchill created a narrative from his vivid imagination, and then steadfastly worked to bring that vision to life. The result was one of the most interesting, original, and eventful adulthoods in history.

The Donald Trump In These Allegations Is Not The Complete Monster I Married

This "commentary" appears on the Onion web site. They have some fun publishing something as though—but clearly not—written by Melania Trump. I suspect they think they have captured her essence. Read More...

Trump, the GOP, and the Fall

At this point there is no doubt that Donald Trump is the single worst major party presidential candidate in living memory, almost certainly the worst since the Civil War, and arguably the worst in the history of this nation. He is boastful and ignorant and petty, disdainful of the Constitution, a racist and a sexist, the enabler of the worst elements of society, either the willing tool of, or the useful idiot for, Vladimir Putin, an admirer of despots, an insecure braggart, a sexual assaulter, a man who refuses to honor contracts, and a bore.

He is, in sum, just about the biggest asshole in all of the United States of America. He’s lucky that Syrian dictator Bashar Hafez al-Assad is out there keeping him from taking the global title, not that he wouldn’t try for that, too, should he become president. It’s appalling that he is the standard bearer for one of the two major political parties in the United States. It’s appalling that he is a candidate for the presidency at all.

But note well: Donald Trump is not a black swan, an unforeseen event erupting upon an unsuspecting Republican Party. He is the end result of conscious and deliberate choices by the GOP, going back decades, to demonize its opponents, to polarize and obstruct, to pursue policies that enfeeble the political weal and to yoke the bigot and the ignorant to their wagon and to drive them by dangling carrots that they only ever intended to feed to the rich. Trump’s road to the candidacy was laid down and paved by the Southern Strategy, by Lee Atwater and Newt Gingrich and Karl Rove, by Fox News and the Tea Party, and by the smirking cynicism of three generations of GOP operatives, who have been fracking the white middle and working classes for years, crushing their fortunes with their social and economic policies, never imagining it would cause an earthquake.

How to Develop the Situational Awareness of Jason Bourne

The following is a reprint of an article by Brett & Kate McKay that appears in the Art of Manliness web site.

There’s a scene at the beginning of The Bourne Identity where the film’s protagonist is sitting in a diner, trying to figure out who he is and why he has a bunch of passports and a gun stashed in a safety deposit box. Bourne also notices that he, well, notices things that other people don’t.

That superhuman ability to observe his surroundings and make detailed assessments about his environment? It’s not just a trait of top secret operatives; it’s a skill known as situational awareness, and you can possess it too.

As the names implies, situational awareness is simply knowing what’s going on around you. It sounds easy in principle, but in reality requires much practice. And while it is taught to soldiers, law enforcement officers, and yes, government-trained assassins, it’s an important skill for civilians to learn as well. In a dangerous situation, being aware of a threat even seconds before everyone else can keep you and your loved ones safe.

But it’s also a skill that can and should be developed for reasons outside of personal defense and safety. Situational awareness is really just another word for mindfulness, and developing mine has made me more cognizant of what’s going on around me and more present in my daily activities, which in turn has helped me make better decisions in all aspects of my life.

I’ve spent months researching and talking to experts in the tactical field about the nature of situational awareness, and below you’ll find one of the most complete primers out there on how to gain this important skill. While the focus is primarily on developing your situational awareness to prevent or survive a violent attack, the principles discussed can also help hone your powers of observation in all areas of your life.

Are You About To Dismiss An Employee? Here Is A Checklist To Review First

The dismissal of an employee is never an easy thing, even at the best of times, and it is always best to have some comfort that you have reviewed and considered all of the issues before you undertake an employee termination.

Below is a checklist that can provide a good starting point for ensuring that relevant matters are considered and for helping generally with the process of an employee termination. The checklist can of course be modified and expanded upon for the employer's particular circumstances.

How Not To Terminate A Long-Service Employee

Lessons learned from Arnone v. Best Theratronics Ltd., 2015 ONCA 63, on appeal from 2014 ONSC 4216

The recent Ontario Court of Appeal in Arnone v. Best Theratronics Ltd., 2015 ONCA 63, illustrates how the litigation process can hammer employers who do not make reasonable offers when terminating a long-service employee. Hard-ball litigation tactics can end up costing the employer way more than a reasonable settlement proposal.

Think Better on Your Feet: How to Improve Your Working Memory

The following is a reprint of an article by Brett & Kate McKay that appears in the Art of Manliness web site.

Whether you’re answering hard questions, making impromptu remarks, analyzing a situation, or synthesizing a bunch of data points into a cohesive and convincing presentation, the ability to think and process multiple pieces of information quickly and effectively is a vital skill to have. In our fast-paced and fluid world, you’ve got to be able to pull out the right piece of knowledge at the right time.

Your working memory is what allows you to do that.

While it was once thought that the capacity of each individual’s working memory was something they were simply born with, research from the worlds of cognitive science and psychology are showing that we can actually train it to become stronger and faster.

If you’re ready to upgrade your working memory from “six guinea pig power” to eight cylinder efficacy, today’s your lucky day. Below, we provide research-backed advice on how you can boost the potentiality of your working memory in order to become a master of cognition in even high-pressured situations.

10 People Every Man Should Have in His Rolodex

The following is a reprint of an article by Jeremy Anderberg that appears in the Art of Manliness web site.

On top of the desk of a mid-century man, you’d find a few essentials: a fountain pen, a framed family photo, a coffee mug, and a Rolodex.

A Rolodex held a bunch of easy-to-access index cards upon which its owner had written the contact information of folks who were handy to know, both professionally and personally. It wasn’t so much for friends and family; you generally (at least in those days) memorized their contact info and could dial them up at any time.

But say you needed an electrician. Or a lawyer. Or a clergyman. Rather than digging through the phone book, you’d simply look through your Rolodex for the information of someone you had contact with in the past. Maybe not regular contact, but enough to know each other when a need arose. Through time and experience, you’d come to have a network of reliable folks in different domains who you could count on.

In the 21st century, the physical Rolodex has become outdated, but its useful concept has not.

Today, it seems we simply call or visit whoever pops up first in a Google search — trying a new provider every time there’s a problem — rather than establishing long-term relationships with different vendors or advisors. But as documented below, it pays off (sometimes literally) to get to know certain people and professionals that you can return to for various services and guidance throughout your life.

Below are the 10 people every man should have in his Rolodex, er, smartphone.

Recent Ontario Decision Confirms That Social Media Spaces Are Part Of The Workplace

The Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 113 v. Toronto Transit Commission (Use of Social Media Grievance), [2016] O.L.A.A. No. 267 decision deals with the use of social media in the workplace, and to what extent employers are required to manage their accounts in a way that protects their employees. Read More...

Vendasta Technologies, Inc. Ranks No. 42 on the 2016 PROFIT 500

Vendasta, the #1 platform for agencies and media companies selling digital solutions to local businesses, has been ranked number 42 on the 28th annual PROFIT 500, the definitive ranking of Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies. Read More...

A Rose By Any Other Name Is Not As Sweet: When A Non-Solicit Is Actually A Non-Compete

The Ontario Court of Appeal has held that the words "accept business", in what the employer intended to be a non-solicitation clause, served to restrict competition and is therefore not merely a non-solicitation clause. Read More...

"Too Much" Is Never Enough When Dignity Injured: B.C. Human Rights Tribunal's Ground-Breaking Award Restored By Court Of Appeal

You may recall that CCPartners wrote in November of last year about a case making its way through the judicial review process in British Columbia. At the time, the British Columbia Supreme Court had just overturned the largest human rights award for "injury to dignity" in the case of UBC v. Kelly. In the latest turn of events, the British Columbia Court of Appeal has now restored that landmark damages award of $75,000. Read More...

An Introduction to Public Speaking

public speaking
The following is a reprint of an article by Brett & Kate McKay that appears in the Art of Manliness web site.

Public speaking, by definition, has been with us as long as spoken language.

Professional instruction in public speaking as a persuasive tool is slightly newer, but only slightly. Ancient Egyptians received formal training in speech, and by the 4th and 3rd centuries B.C.E. it was the default method of conflict resolution in Athenian Greece.

These days, we mostly think of speech as the purview of politicians. (Though in our internet age many politicians are just as likely to use a bullet-point list and a two-minute press conference to present their agenda.) But the reality is that any “speech” longer than a few sentences qualifies as a persuasive exercise, as long as you’re trying to convince someone other than yourself of some point or perspective.

A sales presentation in a boardroom is public speaking. So is a lengthy explanation at the bar of why Hank Aaron was a better hitter than Barry Bonds. (Though if you’re putting as much preparation into your baseball argument as you are into your sales pitch, you might need to adjust your priorities!) But the same fundamentals underlie both situations — and the better you are at them, the more convincing you’ll be in both cases, whether you’ve done extensive prep work or are improvising on the fly.

Doing Good vs Doing Nothing

doing good
The following is a reprint of a guest aticle by James Surwilo that appears in the Art of Manliness web site.

Justin Beebe was a 26-year-old native of Vermont, from the hardscrabble town of Bellows Falls. He was killed several weeks ago wildland firefighting in Nevada as a first-year member of the elite Lolo Interagency Hotshot Crew.

I had never met Justin, and did not know him, but first heard the news from the state’s Fire Supervisor, who I had served under. As a sometimes-wildland-firefighter and resident of VT, I felt a dual kinship. I also have a 26-year-old native Vermonter son who, like Justin, moved west to pursue his dreams, and who has, like Justin did, a girlfriend that he loves. The similarity, another reminder of the fragility of life, gnawed at me. My son Doug was just visiting Vermont from California a week ago. When he left, we said our casual goodbyes at the airport, complacent that we’d see each other at Christmas or in the spring. But hearing of Justin’s death was evidence that nothing in this world is certain, and youth is no insurance against mortality.

Out of the desire to honor a comrade, I began contemplating attending Justin’s memorial service. But you know how these things go — the internal back and forth that accompany this kind of choice: I have no personal connection to this person, it’s an hour and a half drive, there will be plenty of other firefighters there, the grass needs mowing. Is a desire to go, well, weird?

Ultimately though, I decided to go.

The high school auditorium was packed, airless, and stifling hot, with the overflow crowd in the adjacent gymnasium. Justin’s family occupied the front and center rows, with a dozen or so of the Montana-based hotshot crew to the front and side. We other 30 or 40 wildland firefighters from four states and several Federal Agencies walked in single file and took seats behind the Lolo crew. Off to the side came in dozens of structural firefighters who, to their great credit, stood at attention in the oppressive heat for the hour-plus-long service.

Eight different coaches, friends, family members, and the hotshot crew leader spoke to the audience. Each one, obviously without corroboration, spoke in turn about Justin’s good-heartedness, vitality, leadership, and kindness to persons of all walks of life. Nearly every speaker affirmed Justin’s love of the outdoor world and, what especially resonated with me, his unwavering pursuit of his passions. We heard time and again that for Justin, no challenge was too great if he really wanted the objective. I know I’ve backed away from many ventures, either convincing myself of my or its unworthiness, or foolishly being dissuaded by naysayers. So it was inspirational to learn of a young man who went at life full bore, but not at the expense or exclusion of others. Nearly every speaker represented this noble tenacity as a lesson we would benefit to learn, and I surely did.

Justin’s best friend, aunt, fiancée, and mother all spoke from the heart with beautifully moving eloquence, and often laughter-producing humor. Coming from someone who gets anxious speaking to 25 people on some rote, dry subject matter, it was incredible that these bereaved people could find it in themselves to sincerely voice their feelings on stage to over a thousand people, many of them strangers. And to watch a poignant slide show of Justin from baby to sports nut to hotshot crew member, with their loss so recent and raw. I’m not sure I could have done that, and I have nothing but admiration for them all; an act of bravery to rival any firefighter’s.

I Take It Back: Retracting A Resignation

What should you do if an employee asks to rescind his or her resignation?

If you really love that employee, you say "Great! Welcome back." But if this isn't your favourite employee, you may have an obligation to undo the resignation anyway. In order to decide whether or not to allow them to withdraw the resignation, there are a few factors that you should consider.

A Cautionary Tweet: Employer Customer Service Accounts Must Not Encourage Harassment Or A Toxic Work Environment

A recently released decision on a grievance originally filed by the Amalgamated Transit Union against the Toronto Transit Commission ("TTC") in 2012 should cause employers who operate customer service based twitter handles to revisit their tweeting practices. Based on this decision, employers should ensure that a twitter policy is developed to protect employees from harassing comments. Read More...

Caution For Employers Dealing With Employees Exhibiting Suspected Mental Health Issues

In Passamaquoddy Lodge v CUPE Local 1763 2016 NBQB 056 the Court of Queen's Bench upheld an original arbitration decision condemning an employer for suspending an employee pending the outcome of a psychiatric evaluation. Read More...

Bonus Payments – Do They Form Part Of A Severance Package?

Many employers have annual bonus plans which provide additional compensation to employees upon the achievement of certain objectives. In an attempt to avoid paying bonuses to terminated employees, many bonus plans contain language stating that employees must be “actively employed” upon the date of payout in order to receive a bonus payment. A recent decision of the Ontario Court of Appeal has confirmed that such language by itself is not sufficient to deprive an employee, who is terminated without cause, of compensation for a bonus. Read More...

Alberta Court Confirms And Clarifies Requirements For Random Drug Testing

drug test
In the recent case of Suncor Energy Inc. v. Unifor, Local 707A, 2016 ABQB 269, the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench confirmed and clarified the test that an employer must meet in order to justify the unilateral imposition of random drug and alcohol testing in a unionized workplace. Specifically, the Court confirmed that: (a) an employer has to demonstrate a "general problem" with alcohol and drugs in the workplace, but that problem need not necessarily be "serious" or "significant"; (b) the employer need not demonstrate a threshold causal connection between a drug and alcohol problem and accident history; and (c) evidence of a problem can come from the entire workplace and not just from the bargaining unit. Read More...

When Will The Idiots On The Other End Of The Political Spectrum Wake Up And Have Every One Of My Life Circumstances, Daily Interactions, And Upbringing?

This "commentary" appears on the Onion web site.

I Spend Every Waking Moment Holding This Fragile Facade Of A Person Together, And I’ll Do The Same For America

the donald
This "commentary" appears on the Onion web site. They have some fun publishing something as though—but clearly not—written by Donald Trump. I suspect they think they have captured his essence. Read More...

How Much Notice Of Resignation Should I Give My Employer?

Did you know that an employee is required to provide "reasonable" notice of resignation (unless you agree to a different notice period in an employment contract)? If you fail to do so, your former employer can sue you and a judge can order you to pay the employer damages. A recent Ontario Superior Court case examines the question of what reasonable notice of resignation is. Read More...

Technicality Insufficient To Set Aside

term notice
As the practice of using employment contracts to minimize termination obligations has become increasingly common in Canada, so has the creativity of employee counsel in attempting to set aside these contracts. In recent years, we have seen the omission of the words "and benefits" with reference to a statutory notice period and the possibility that a termination clause might, in the future, contravene employment standards legislation suffice to set aside contractual termination provisions. Where such termination provisions are set aside, a court will substitute common law – which is the very result the employer intended to avoid, and the employee likely understood the employer intended to avoid, by drafting the contractual termination provision in the first place. Employer counsel have become very accustomed to defending drafting omissions challenged by employee counsel. A recent British Columbia Court of Appeal decision with respect to which the Supreme Court of Canada denied leave to appeal last week provides employer counsel with assistance in this endeavour. Read More...

Cumulative Misconduct Amounts To Just Cause For Dismissal: Chopra v. Easy Plastic Containers Limited

A recent decision by the Ontario Superior Court provides employers with a helpful precedent when seeking to terminate an employee for cause. In Chopra v. Easy Plastic Containers Limited 2014 ONSC 3666, a number of separate incidents of misconduct and performance issues, taken together, provided sufficient justification for a just cause dismissal. Read More...

Networking Tips for College Success: How to Build Relationships and Land a Great Job After College

The following is a reprint of an article by John Corcoran that appears in the Art of Manliness web site.

Being a college student is a tough gig these days.

You have to deal with long hours at school, hefty tuition bills, the impending responsibilities of adulthood, and most importantly, networking.

Wait, what? Networking? Isn’t “networking” for guys who’ve already graduated? You shouldn’t have to worry about that sleazy old tactic of passing out business cards at boring cocktail parties while you’re also worrying about exams and homework, right?

Think again. If you believe you can cruise through college, focusing just on your classes and what party to go to this weekend, you’ll be in for a rude awakening come graduation.

Here’s the problem: most college students don’t give a minute of thought into building a network.

In this article, I want to challenge your perspective. Art of Manliness has previously provided plenty of advice to help you survive college — from style tips to classroom etiquette to note-taking strategies to study tips.

Today, I want to convince you that college isn’t just about what you do inside the classroom. You need to put almost as much effort into building relationships which will help your career as you put into your studies. To make it easier for you, I’m going to give you some practical ideas for how you can begin building relationships while you are still in college that will help you get a job after you graduate, help you launch or finance a business, and maybe even fuel your career for years to come.

Research shows that 70 to 80 percent of jobs are not advertised. That means if you want to hear about the vast majority of jobs, you will need to find out about them from people in your network. And your network can’t be bought, borrowed, or downloaded like an app; it must be created by you through consistent action over time. That’s why it’s critical that you start building those relationships now so you hear about these unadvertised jobs when it’s time to hit the market.

The good news is that it is relatively easy to build a strong network if you adopt the right mindset and take consistent action. Here are eight tips to start building relationships that matter while you are still in college.

The unbearable stench of Trump’s B.S.

The following is a reprint of an article by Fareed Zakaria that appears on the Washington Post web site.

A few days ago, I was asked on CNN to make sense of one more case in which Donald Trump had said something demonstrably false and then explained it away with a caustic tweet and an indignant interview. I replied that there was a pattern here and a term for a person who did this kind of thing: a “bullshit artist.” I got cheers and boos for the comment from partisans on both sides, but I was not using that label casually. Trump is many things, some of them dark and dangerous, but at his core, he is a B.S. artist. Read More...

How to Refresh Your Brain In a Matter of Seconds When You're Stressed

Experiencing a massive brain shutdown? Try these 3 ways to restore your higher-level thinking. Read More...

The Republicans waged a 3-decade war on government. They got Trump.

The following is a reprint of an article by Norman J. Ornstein & Thomas E. Mann that appears on the Vox website. Norman J. Ornstein is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a contributing editor and writer for the Atlantic. Thomas E. Mann is a senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution, and a resident scholar, Institute of Governmental Studies, at the University of California Berkeley.

Trumpism may have parallels in populist, nativist movements abroad, but it is also the culmination of a proud political party’s steady descent into a deeply destructive and dysfunctional state.

While that descent has been underway for a long time, it has accelerated its pace in recent years. We noted four years ago the dysfunction of the Republican Party, arguing that its obstructionism, anti-intellectualism, and attacks on American institutions were making responsible governance impossible. The rise of Trump completes the script, confirming our thesis in explicit fashion.

Consider, as a sign of the party’s decadence, how quickly Bob Corker, a card-carrying member of the Republican Party elite — the center-right chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee — caved in to this horribly miscast party standard-bearer. Trump’s campaign has been filled with statements whose ignorance and bombast have appalled the establishment. Then a ballyhooed foreign policy speech in late April was widely panned by experts across the foreign policy spectrum. ("A very odd mishmash"; "strident rhetoric [that] masked a lack of depth.") Corker’s response? He praised "the broadness, the vision" of the speech.

When Corker subsequently praised Trump's disastrous press conference in Scotland as "one of his better events" — this was the press conference that mainly showcased Trump's golf resort, and in which Trump praised the UK's vote in favor of Brexit in strongly pro-Europe Scotland, after earlier demonstrating he did not even know what Brexit was — the cave-in was complete.

Corker, of course, was not alone. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell fell in line quickly, and while House Speaker Paul Ryan hedged his support for a while, he also joined the Trump team. The Republican Party was about to nominate the most inexperienced, unpopular, and temperamentally unsuited major party presidential candidate in the history of American politics, and there was nothing the establishment could do about it beyond trying to contain the political damage.

It gives us little pleasure to say we foresaw that the Republican Party was on a destructive course that could lead to such a situation.

In April 2012, we created a major stir in the political world with a long piece in the Washington Post Sunday Outlook section called, "Let’s Just Say It: The Republicans Are the Problem." It was adapted from our book published days later, It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism, and this was our money quote:

The Republican Party has become an insurgent outlier in American politics — ideologically extreme; contemptuous of the inherited social and economic policy regime; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.

As scholars who had worked for more than four decades with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, we faced a ton of scorn from sitting Republican lawmakers and outside observers for making this argument — and denial from most of the mainstream media. For reporters, professional norms and concerns about accusations of partisan bias dictated that the parties be treated equally, whatever the underlying reality. The safe haven of false equivalence led the press to ignore one of the most consequential developments in contemporary American politics: the radicalization of the Republican Party.

False Assault Allegation Against Supervisor Was Just Cause For Dismissal: Video Evidence Was Conclusive

An employee who filed a written complaint, falsely alleging that his supervisor deliberately ran into him with a sharp blow from his shoulder, was dismissed for cause, an arbitrator has held. Read More...

Estoppel Applied By Saskatchewan Court Of Appeal To Prevent Compensation Change

In the recent decision of Viterra v Grain Services Union, 2013 SKCA 93 the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal reaffirmed the power of arbitrators to hold parties to past practice in applying a collective agreement through the doctrine of estoppel. Read More...

Work, Command, Create: Tips on Hustling, Leadership, and Hobbies from Winston Churchill

The following is a reprint of an article by Brett & Kate McKay that appears in the Art of Manliness web site.

“Broadly speaking,” Winston Churchill mused, “human beings may be divided into three classes: those who are billed to death, those who are worried to death, and those who are bored to death.”

Certainly, many adults fit all too well into one or all of those categories. Growing older often means sliding into a monotonous career and giving up one’s interests and hobbies. The result is predictable, but tragic: boredom, restlessness, anxiety, and even depression.

Unfortunately, the solution commonly sought for this malaise produces exactly the opposite result, and tends to make us even more anxious and restless. Most adults think they have too much on their plate, so they long to unload some of their activities and have time to just veg out in front of their screen of choice. The problem, however, is not the quantity of activities, but the quality. Most people could in fact use more activity in their life, just the right kind of it: more enjoyable work, more satisfying responsibilities, more opportunities to create.

Supreme Court of 'Canada sets "new framework" for whether delay unreasonable.

J was charged in December 2008 for his role in a dial‑a‑dope operation. His trial ended in February 2013. J brought an application under s. 11 (b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms , seeking a stay of proceedings due to the delay. In dismissing the application, the trial judge applied the framework set out in R. v. Morin, [1992] 1 S.C.R. 771. Ultimately, J was convicted. The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal."

The S.C.C. held (3 judges writing joint reasons, in which 2 judges concurred; 1 judge writing reasons concurring in the result, in which 3 other judges concurred), that the appeal is allowed, the convictions set aside and a stay of proceedings entered.

The Churchill School of Adulthood – Lesson #7: Work Like a Slave; Command Like a King; Create Like a God

The following is a reprint of an article by Brett & Kate McKay that appears in the Art of Manliness web site.

Churchill’s energy, industry, and insatiable appetite for living formed one of the most noteworthy aspects of his character. Friends and colleagues described him as “incapable of inactivity,” and observed that “Winston has so many irons in the fire that the day is not nearly long enough.” There were indeed periods of Churchill’s life where he could accurately report “I never had a dull or idle moment from morning till midnight.”

For Churchill, Manchester writes, “boredom was an enemy to be vanquished.” Being bored put Winston in an incredibly foul mood, as he saw such a state as a waste of the precious and limited time of his mortality. If he found himself in a stultifying situation, he would quickly break away to engage in something more stimulating. As Manchester writes, “In relief of boredom, almost any action—short of the wicked—would do, with one prerequisite: it had to possess value, and Churchill was the arbiter of the value.”

While we often think of “fun” as the opposite of “boredom,” Churchill attacked and vanquished the doldrums of adulthood on a wide variety of fronts — from challenging work to heavy responsibilities to stimulating hobbies. He was in fact the very embodiment of artist Constantin Brancuși’s maxim that to live a fulfilling, flourishing life, one must “Work like a slave; command like a king; create like a god.”

Termination Clauses: A Cautionary Tale

term notice
Anyone involved in the human resources side of management will be familiar with the concept of notice periods for terminated employees, and how they are calculated.  In most cases, the primary factor involved in determining the appropriate length of a reasonable notice period is the employee's length of service.  However, this is not always the case.  In cases dealing with particularly senior and specialized employees, significant notice periods may be awarded even for employees with short service.  In such cases, employment contracts with termination clauses can take on even greater importance for employers attempting to maximize their flexibility and limit their liability. Read More...

Terminated For Tweeting: A Tale Of Two Toronto Firefighters

When used properly, social media can be a powerful tool for connecting individuals, marketing businesses and mobilizing the masses behind a cause. However, many organizations have learned the hard way that inappropriate social media use by employees can have a detrimental effect on an organization's reputation.

That is why it is not surprising to see so many accounts of people losing their jobs over their ill-advised social media use. But as our colleague in Vancouver recently noted, not all social media transgressions will justify termination.

Many will recall the headlines of many national news outlets that reported the termination of two Toronto Fire Fighters for their inappropriate use of Twitter. The future of these individuals as firefighters was decided in two recent arbitration decisions which also provide guidance for employers seeking to discipline employees over social media use.

Ted volunteers at Jazz Festival .

Ted volunteed at the Bassment Cantina

Ted volunteers at Jazz Festival .

Ted volunteed at the Bassment Cantina

Post-Termination Evidence Of Mental Illness Leads To Reinstatement

In the recent decision of Cape Breton (Regional Municipality) v CUPE, Local 933, 2014 NSSC 97, the Nova Scotia Supreme Court upheld an arbitrator's decision to conditionally reinstate an employee who had been terminated due to excessive absenteeism. The employer was not aware that the employee suffered from depression at the time of the termination. Read More...

Ted volunteers at Jazz Festival .

Ted volunteed at the Bassment Cantina

Legal Myths: Is A Terminated Employee Guaranteed One Month Per Year Of Service?

rule of thumb
Law is full of its share of misconceptions. For instance, many people talk about a "rule of thumb" that provides that a terminated employee is entitled to one month per year of employment. Despite this, Courts across Canada have emphatically rejected the notion that there is rule of thumb for determining appropriate notice periods for employees. Read More...

Ted volunteers at Jazz Festival .

Ted volunteed at the Bassment Cantina

The Churchill School of Adulthood – Lesson #6: Don’t Be Afraid to Start a Family

The following is a reprint of an article by Brett & Kate McKay that appears in the Art of Manliness web site.

Of the many “contradictions” of Churchill’s life, one of the most interesting is that while he loved high-flying adventure, and relished danger, risk, and excitement, he was also, as a friend put it, “tremendously domestic.” Nothing gave him more happiness and satisfaction than his family, and while he loved traveling the world, he could sincerely say that “A day away from Chartwell is a day wasted.”

Yet the more one looks at his life, the less contradictory these two impulses seem. Not only was Churchill’s family life an adventure in and of itself, but it in fact made possible his other escapades and accomplishments.

It’s An Honor To Continue Being Valued Over Countless Human Lives

This "commentary" appears on the Onion web site.

Termination Notice Awarded Beyond Expiry Of Fixed Term

term notice
In the recent decision of Thompson v Cardel Homes Limited Partnership, 2014 ABCA 242, the Alberta Court of Appeal considered the difference between constructive dismissal and simply not renewing a fixed-term employment contract. Read More...

Lying About Absence Gives Just Cause For Termination, Says Alberta Court Of Appeal Overturning Arbitrator

In Telus Communications Inc. v Telecommunications Workers Union, an Alberta Court of Queen's Bench chambers judge quashed the decision of an arbitrator, upholding termination of a grievor terminated for dishonesty surrounding an absence from work. The decision was later upheld by the Alberta Court of Appeal. Read More...

Evidence Of Inducement Leads To Enhanced Notice Period

In its recent decision of Rodgers v CEVA, 2014 ONSC 6583, the Ontario Superior Court considered both what it means to induce someone to leave their job and the implications of that inducement upon termination. Read More...

30 of Muhammad Ali's best quotes

Muhammad Ali, considered to be the greatest heavyweight boxer, died late Friday night in a Phoenix-area hospital at 74 years old. Most know his life’s accomplishments. [Few know his “pearls of wisdom.”] Here is a list of some of his best quotes . . . . [My favourite is:]

Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.

If I Could Be Just Completely Honest For A Second, I Believe Exactly What You Believe

This "commentary" appears on the Onion web site. They have some fun publishing something as though—but clearly not—written by Hillary Clinton. I suspect they think they have captured her essence. Read More...

Divisional Court Clarifies Test For A Poisonous Work Environment

When employees allege harassment in human rights complaints, they often refer to the creation of a "poisoned work environment." A recent decision from Ontario's Divisional Court helpfully demonstrates that something more than one or two discrete incidents is usually required to support such a finding. Read More...

Beware of the One Month Per Year of Service "Rule"

We have written a number of times regarding cases that significantly depart from the so-called one month per year of service rule of thumb. Yet another case has illustrated the risk an employer runs in assuming their liability will be capped at one month per year of service. Read More...

Speaking Truth to Power and the Value of Counterpoints: Madeleine Albright’s Surprising Commencement Address

This a reprint of an article by Maria Popova appearing on the brainpickings site.

“We should use our opinions to start discussions, not to end them.”

As I was preparing to deliver my Annenberg commencement address, restlessness of a very different kind and caliber was taking place on the other side of the country.

When Scripps Women’s College announced that former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright — a person with whom I disagree politically on many counts — was invited to deliver the 2016 commencement address, student protests broke out across campus. Some had hoped for a woman of color as the graduation speaker, some went as far as calling Albright a war criminal, and there was a general outrage centered around her politically charged remark that “there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other.”

Unlike Villanova University, which sixteen years earlier had disinvited legendary journalist Anna Quindlen after students protested her liberal political views (with the result of Quindlen’s spectacular undelivered commencement address going “viral” long before social media), Scripps proceeded as planned. Albright traveled to campus early to meet with the students and faculty and hear out their dissent in order for them to accept her as a speaker. Even so, some of the faculty refused to participate in the ceremony.

On the morning of May 14, the day before her 79th birthday, Albright took the podium clad in cap and gown, tension and unrest still suffusing the air. She was greeted by a few tepid claps. Students wore buttons on their gowns bearing slogans like “Hell is Albright with me.” The class valedictorian prefacing the commencement address ended her speech with these words: “And if there’s a special place in hell for us, magical, radical, change-making us, then so be it.”

But what happened next — as relayed to me by my dear friend (and frequent collaborator) Wendy MacNaughton, who was in attendance as the cousin of a new graduate — is an astonishing lesson in courage, dignity, integrity, and transformation under the unlikeliest of circumstances.

After beginning by addressing the student directly with the warm response that “there is a special place in heaven for anyone who speaks truth to power,” Albright proceeded to speak about the perils of latching onto our preconceptions, the uncomfortable luxury of changing one’s mind, the importance of surrounding ourselves with counterpoints, and the vital distinction between information and wisdom in an age of instant, reactive opinions.

What emerges is
a sublime addition to the greatest commencement addresses of all time and a testament to Ursula K. Le Guin’s assertion that “words are events [which] do things, change things… transform both speaker and hearer… feed energy back and forth and amplify it.”

At the end of the speech, something palpable had shifted — the few tepid claps had been transformed and amplified, erupting into a thunderous applause as Albright walked off the stage. Wendy watched one graduate remove the protest button from her gown. “Great speech, huh?” she said to the young woman, who rolled her eyes, then nodded.

Transcribed highlights below.

How to Talk About Your Unconventional Background in a Conventional World

wrestle alligator
The following is a reprint of an article by John Corcoran that appears in the Art of Manliness web site.

Do you ever struggle to describe your unique background? Do you have trouble explaining about certain not-so-flattering work history in a way that sounds believable? If so, you’re not alone.

Maybe you dropped out of college to run a coffee shop. Maybe you skipped college to join the Army. Maybe you were a ski bum for a few winters. Or maybe you spent a few years touring with your band, hoping ska would make a comeback (good luck with that).

Today’s working world tends to reward people who live plain vanilla, cookie-cutter lives. Anyone who has an “unorthodox” background outside of the norms tends to be written off, or at a minimum, faces an uphill battle explaining their background to potential employers, landlords, and possible future in-laws.

So what do you do if you have an unconventional background but you’re living in a conventional world?

If you can relate to this, then let me tell you about my friend Colin.

Colin dropped out of college to enlist in the U.S. Coast Guard, where he joined an elite force whose job was to retake ships that had been seized by pirates. I asked Colin to tell me about the craziest experience he could talk about without having to kill me. I half expected him to say the first rule of fighting pirates is you can’t talk about fighting pirates, but fortunately for you and I, he didn’t.

Colin described one incident in which his squad had to take back a freighter that had been pirated in the Gulf of Mexico. In the middle of the night, his Coast Guard cutter drove full speed ahead through the darkness, right up alongside the pirated ship. Colin and the rest of his squad then had to throw a rope ladder over the edge of the deck and climb up the swinging ladder onto the deck of the ship, as both boats were bobbing up and down in the ocean in complete darkness.

Oh, did I mention that the pirates were shooting machine guns down at them while they were scrambling to climb the ladder?

Once the squad was on deck and retook the bridge, then they had to go room-by-room through the ship using special night vision and thermal imaging goggles to see through walls and find where the pirates were hiding.

I can’t watch the scary parts of The Goonies without holding my wife’s hand, but for Colin, this was just a normal day at work. So you would think his experience would benefit his career, right? Guess again.

‘Potentially catastrophic, extremely negligent’: Postpone or move Rio Olympics, Canadian lawyer urges

The following is a reprint of an article by Sheryl Urelacker, of the Canadian Press, that appeared in the National Post.

TORONTO — The Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro should be postponed or moved to other venues because of the global threat posed by the Zika virus epidemic in Brazil, says a Canadian professor of law who specializes in public health.

In a commentary published in the May issue of the Harvard Public Health Review, Amir Attaran of the University of Ottawa says the expected half-million visitors to the Olympic and Paralympic Games could spread the virus once they return to their home countries.

10 Tips for Successfully Working from Home

work at home
The following is a reprint of an article by Brett & Kate McKay that appears in the Art of Manliness web site.

The rise of the digital age has allowed more and more people to work remotely and to start businesses in the comfort of their own homes. Working out of your house has a lot of advantages — no dress code, no commute, and more autonomy. But it also comes with unique challenges.

Whether you’re an entrepreneur starting an online empire from your bedroom or a contractor telecommuting for a big corporation, here are a few bits of advice on how to effectively work from home based on my own experience:

The Churchill School of Adulthood — Lesson #5: Don’t Give Up Your Sense of Adventure

The following is a reprint of an article by Brett & Kate McKay that appears in the Art of Manliness web site. Read More...

40 Years of Stanford Research Found That People With This One Quality Are More Likely to Succeed

In the 1960s, a Stanford professor named Walter Mischel began conducting a series of important psychological studies.

During his experiments, Mischel and his team tested hundreds of children — most of them around the ages of 4 and 5 years old — and revealed what is now believed to be one of the most important characteristics for success in health, work, and life.

Let’s talk about what happened and, more importantly, how you can use it.

The Marshmallow Experiment

The experiment began by bringing each child into a private room, sitting them down in a chair, and placing a marshmallow on the table in front of them.

At this point, the researcher offered a deal to the child.

The researcher told the child that he was going to leave the room and that if the child did not eat the marshmallow while he was away, then they would be rewarded with a second marshmallow. However, if the child decided to eat the first one before the researcher came back, then they would not get a second marshmallow.

So the choice was simple: one treat right now or two treats later.

The researcher left the room for 15 minutes.

As you can imagine, the footage of the children waiting alone in the room was rather entertaining. Some kids jumped up and ate the first marshmallow as soon as the researcher closed the door. Others wiggled and bounced and scooted in their chairs as they tried to restrain themselves, but eventually gave in to temptation a few minutes later. And finally, a few of the children did manage to wait the entire time.

Published in 1972, this popular study became known as The Marshmallow Experiment, but it wasn’t the treat that made it famous. The interesting part came years later.

What Is Physical Disability? BC Human Rights Tribunal Confirms Legal Test Under Human Rights Code

A decision this month by the BC Human Rights Tribunal (the "Tribunal") considered the evidence required to prove a "physical disability" under the Human Rights Code (Li v. Aluma Systems Inc. et al, 2014 BCHRT 270). Read More...

No Just Cause For Employee Punch

In the recent decision of Phanlouvong v Northfield Metal Products (1994) Ltd, 2014 ONSC 6585, the Ontario Superior Court considered an incident of workplace violence to not provide just cause for dismissal.

The employee in question was terminated for cause and without notice after a workplace incident in which the employee punched another employee in the face. The incident arose when an employee bumped into the plaintiff. Feeling harassed, the plaintiff demanded an apology, and when he did not get one punched the other employee in the face. The victim of the punch was suspended for 1 week for his role in the incident, most importantly his failure to apologize or simply walk away from the plaintiff, which resulted in the escalation of the altercation. The plaintiff was terminated for cause.

Legitimate, Long-Term Absences And The Employer's Duty To Accommodate

Employers are sometimes faced with an employee that is absent from the workplace for legitimate reasons for long periods of time. Absences of these kinds can be frustrating and costly to the employer. In these circumstances, employers often ask themselves—at what time, and after how long of an absence, can we legitimately terminate the employment relationship with the absent employee?

There are two factors to consider in determining whether an employee can be legally dismissed for non-culpable absenteeism due to a mental or physical disability. First, the employment contract between the parties must be frustrated. Second, the employer's duty to accommodate the employee must be fulfilled.

Supreme Court of Canada decides Métis and non‑status Indians are “Indians” under s. 91(24) of the Constitution Act, 1867

metis flag
"Three declarations are sought in this case: (1) that Métis and non‑status Indians are “Indians” under s. 91(24) of the Constitution Act, 1867; (2) that the federal Crown owes a fiduciary duty to Métis and non‑status Indians; and (3) that Métis and non‑status Indians have the right to be consulted and negotiated with.

The trial judge’s conclusion was that “Indians” under s. 91(24) is a broad term referring to all Indigenous peoples in Canada. He declined, however, to grant the second and third declarations. The Federal Court of Appeal accepted that “Indians” in s. 91(24) included all Indigenous peoples generally. It upheld the first declaration, but narrowed its scope to exclude non‑status Indians and include only those Métis who satisfied the three criteria from R. v. Powley, [2003] 2 S.C.R. 207. It also declined to grant the second and third declarations. The appellants sought to restore the first declaration as granted by the trial judge, and asked that the second and third declarations be granted. The Crown cross‑appealed, arguing that none of the declarations should be granted. It conceded that non‑status Indians are “Indians” under s. 91(24)."

The S.C.C. (9:0) allowed the appeal in part.

Employers, Pay Attention: Google Searches Will Not Replace Tailored Accommodation

Recently, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO or the tribunal) released a decision wherein the employer failed to meet its duty to accommodate an employee diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Read More...

Don't Let A Restrictive Covenant Bite You In The Assets

The challenges of enforcing non-competition and non-solicitation clauses in employment contracts are well known. It is less renowned that such clauses may increase the reasonable notice period owed by an employer to a dismissed employee, as we were reminded in a recent decision by the Supreme Court of British Columbia: Ostrow v Abacus Management Corporation Mergers and Acquisitions. Read More...

Dismissal Upheld After Sexual Threats Over Facebook

As one of the seminal decisions of 2014, USW and Tenaris Algoma Tubes Inc. raised the issues of off-duty conduct, sexual harassment / threats and social media. The grievance arbitration decision upheld the dismissal of an employee after he posted sexually threatening and harassing comments regarding another employee on his Facebook page. Read More...

Police and judges grapple with the meaning of ‘offensive emoticons’

gun emoji
The following is a reprint of an article by Victor Ferreira that appears in the National Post web site.

The cartoon gun, in the wrong hands, isn’t as harmless as it looks.

As communication continues to sway from the use of the written language police and judges are being left with difficult decisions to make, grappling to understand the meaning of emojis.

The Churchill School of Adulthood — Lesson #4: Cultivate a Nostalgic Love for History

The following is a reprint of an article by Brett & Kate McKay that appears in the Art of Manliness web site. Read More...

The Churchill School of Adulthood — Lesson #3: Live Romantically

The following is a reprint of an article by Brett & Kate McKay that appears in the Art of Manliness web site.

When Neville Chamberlain brought Churchill into his cabinet in 1939 to serve as First Lord of the Admiralty (meaning he ran the British navy), Winston hit the ground running. He took charge of every element of the war at sea, and began strategizing about how to improve things at all levels. The heart of his control center was his black dispatch box; Manchester describes its contents:

“Inside were numbered folders containing papers approximately 16″ x 13.″ The first one, the ‘top of the box,’ as it was called, dealt with matters considered ‘really urgent’…Below the top were folders containing military and foreign office telegrams, reports from the Chiefs of Staff…answers to questions he had raised concerning every aspect of British life—food supplies, crop yields, railroad capacity, coal production. Nothing escaped his attention.”

Each morning Churchill would go through his dispatch box and issue a seemingly never-ending stream of memos to his fellow ministers and military commanders. If he signed a dispatch in red ink, it meant he wanted action taken on it; an attached slip labeled “Action This Day” constituted “the prime ministerial equivalent of a five-alarm fire.”

Churchill’s colleagues sometimes found the sheer number of memos he disbursed onerous; they did not, Manchester writes, “appreciate Churchill’s grasp of all the issues, not only those issues apparent to everybody but also those apparent only to himself.” Churchill’s single-minded goal was defeat of the Nazis, and he made sure he was on top of every detail of how the effort towards victory was progressing.

Yet even though Churchill could be hard-nosed, grounded, and highly detail-oriented, he was also, Manchester says, “an unrepentant romantic.” And it was this quality, more than any other, that allowed him to win the war. And, we would add, to have an awesome adulthood.

Via Negativa: Adding to Your Life By Subtracting

break chain
The following is a reprint of an article by Brett & Kate McKay that appears in the Art of Manliness web site.

It’s a new year and people all over the world are making resolutions on how they’re going to improve themselves. Usually these goals consist of doing something new or adding a habit to their lives: get back into exercising, start journaling, launch a side hustle, adopt the Paleo diet, earn more money, etc.

But after a few weeks of motivated effort, most folks start to lose steam. They stop going to the gym, never sign up for that woodworking class, and go back to eating Pop Tarts and Doritos. And then they feel like crap because they haven’t made any progress on improving themselves.

There’s nothing wrong with making these types of positive goals, but they’re not the only way to improve your life. Just as effective as adding something to our lives, if not more so, is subtracting the things that might be holding us back.

In truth, oftentimes the path to becoming a better man is found in following the via negativa — the negative way.

Supreme Court of Canada finds standard of review for arbitrator is reasonableness.

"In June 2009, B was summoned to attend a special meeting of the executive committee of the Commission scolaire de Laval (“Board”), his employer. The committee had to determine whether B’s judicial record was relevant to his functions as a teacher and, if it was, decide whether to resiliate his employment contract. After hearing B in a partially in camera meeting (from which the public was excluded), the executive committee ordered a totally in camera meeting (from which the teacher and his union representative were excluded) in order to deliberate. Upon completion of these two in camera meetings, the committee, sitting in public once again, proceeded to adopt a resolution that terminated B’s employment contract.

The Syndicat de l’enseignement de la région de Laval (“Union”) filed a grievance with respect to B’s dismissal, alleging, inter alia, that the procedure for dismissal provided for in the collective agreement had not been followed. The collective agreement stipulated that the employment relationship could be terminated “only after thorough deliberations at a meeting of the board’s council of commissioners or executive committee called for that purpose”. In the course of the inquiry into the grievance, the Union summoned as its first witnesses three members of the executive committee who had been present for the in camera deliberations of June 2009. The Board objected to having them testify, arguing that the motives of individual members of the committee were irrelevant and that deliberative secrecy shielded the members from being examined on what had been said in camera. The Board also submitted that the principle that motives are “unknowable” that had been stated in Consortium Developments (Clearwater) Ltd. v. Sarnia (City), [1998] 3 S.C.R. 3, precludes the examination of the members of any collective body on the motives that underlie a decision made by way of a written resolution. The arbitrator dismissed these objections and allowed the examination of the executive committee’s members.

The Superior Court, hearing a motion for judicial review of the arbitrator’s interlocutory decision, applied the standard of correctness and granted the motion, barring any testimony by members of the executive committee except as regards the formal process that led to their decision that was announced at a public meeting. The majority of the Court of Appeal, also applying the standard of correctness, restored the arbitrator’s decision and allowed the examination of the executive committee’s members, subject to the usual limits of what is relevant."

The S.C.C.held (unanimously, with Justice Côté writing partially concurring reasons, with Justices Wagner and Brown concurring) that the appeal is dismissed.

Vendasta Technologies Inc. wins NSBA Business Builder Award

Congratulations to Vendasta Technologies Inc. on winning the NSBA Business Builder Award for Employee Retention and Development. Read More...

Courts Quash Another Alcohol And Drug Testing Policy

drug test
The law in Canada with regard to workplace alcohol and drug testing is becoming clearer, and the emerging picture indicates employers need to proceed with caution.

The latest news comes from
an Ontario Superior Court of Justice decision, which upheld an arbitrator's decision to invalidate an employer association's pre-access alcohol and drug testing policy. Read More...

‘Unlike’ – Social Media Gaffes Not Cause To Dismiss Communications Manager

As more people use social media to communicate in and out of the office, social media posts by employees are increasingly a concern for employers. In a recent case, the International Triathlon Union ("ITU") dismissed its Senior Manager of Communications, Paula Kim, because of negative posts she made on her personal blog and social media accounts. In Kim v. International Triathlon Union, the British Columbia Supreme Court found there was no just cause for her dismissal because she had not been clearly warned that her communications put her employment in jeopardy. Read More...

Companies Failing to Improve Insecure Staff Behavior

A lack of cybersecurity awareness among employees is putting companies at greater risk of being hit by attacks, according to a new report by AXELOS. Read More...

Punching A Co-Worker Does Not Amount To Just Cause For Dismissal, Court Rules

Can your employee punch a co-worker in the face and avoid termination for just cause? The answer is yes, depending on how you handle the situation.

A recent decision of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice again raises the question of whether employers can effectively balance their duty to provide a safe workplace free from violence with the common law principles of proportionate discipline. In the Nov. 17, 2014 decision in Phanlouvong v. Northfield Metal Products (1994) Ltd. et al., 2014 ONSC 6585 (CanLII), the Trial Judge found that, although the plaintiff punched a co-worker in the face, his conduct did not amount to just cause for dismissal.

All For One, One For All? Common Employer Doctrine Revisited By The Ontario Superior Court Of Justice

In King v. 1416088 Ontario Ltd. 1 ("King"), the Ontario Superior Court of Justice found a group of corporate defendants jointly and severally for damages arising from a wrongful dismissal claim amounting to almost $150,000. The twist in this case: many of the defendants never actually employed the plaintiff. Read More...

Koskie presents seminar on Wills and Estates.

Koskie presents seminar on Wills and Estates.

The Churchill School of Adulthood – Lesson #2: Establish a Daily Routine

The following is a reprint of an article by Brett & Kate McKay that appears in the Art of Manliness web site.

When Winston Churchill left the military at age 26 to pursue a writing career and a seat in Parliament, he looked forward to being free of “discipline and authority, and set up in perfect independence in England with nobody to give me orders or arouse me by bell or trumpet.”

Yet even though his day-to-day life was no longer structured by a schoolmaster or a superior officer, he did not in fact do away with having a daily schedule altogether. Instead, he created a routine he actually delighted in – because he had created it himself.

A visitor to Chartwell, his home in the English countryside, might have been forgiven for missing this routine, or for thinking it disorderly. Yet while his daily schedule was quite unusual, it was in fact very strict. As one of the researchers who assisted Winston in writing his books recalled, “He was totally organized, almost like a clock. His routine was absolutely dictatorial. He set himself a ruthless timetable every day and would get very agitated, even cross, if it was broken.”

Let’s take a look at a day in the life of Winston Churchill, and then discuss the way that establishing your own daily routine can greatly enhance your adulthood.

Dismissed employee was entitled to full contractual severance notwithstanding her failure to mitigate

Many employers attempt to define an employee's right to compensation upon dismissal by having clear, enforceable termination provisions in their employment contracts. But what happens if the dismissed employee is offered re-employment shortly after termination and fails to accept it? Is she still entitled to the full contractual severance amount?

The Court of Appeal, in its decision
Maxwell v. British Columbia, confirmed the answer is yes: a dismissed employee was found to be entitled to the full amount of contractual severance and did not have to mitigate her damages by accepting an offer of new employment. Read More...

Getting ahead vs. doing well

The following is a reprint of an article by Seth Godin that appears in his blog. Read More...

We got 10 CEOs to tell us their one killer interview question for new hires

The following is a reprint of an article that appears in the Quartz web site.

Where do you see yourself in five years? Tell me about a time when you showed leadership. What is your biggest weakness?

These are the standard questions that job candidates face during interviews. And by now, everyone also has standard answers. (“My biggest weakness? I work too hard.”)

As you scale to the upper rungs of the corporate ladder, you are unlikely to field such hackneyed queries. For leadership positions, it’s the softer skills that matter. Quartz spoke with 10 CEOs and other senior execs about their interview techniques, and the one killer question they like to ask job candidates. Their approaches vary, but all are designed to test a person’s mindset and mentality.

A first-rate résumé won’t help you now. Consider yourself warned.

Indigenous Peoples and Violent Conflict: Preconceptions, Appearances, and Realities

This article appears on the Cultural Survival web site. It was written some time ago—Spring 2005—in an international context, but appears apropos not only today, but in Saskatchewan and Canada. It may help one to understand the root causes of tragedies such as that which occurred in La Loche. This is not just a community problem—it is much broader.

Conflict resolution specialists assert that conflict is a normal, even healthy part of human interaction. While that may be true in circumstances in which the parties to a conflict share similar values and cultures, have equal status and ability to press their claims, and are equally protected by the rules under which the conflict materialized and must be resolved, such "healthy" conflict conditions do not characterize the asymmetrical conflicts between indigenous peoples and states or other outside interests.

This year, the United Nation's Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights sponsored a study on indigenous peoples and conflict resolution, which was the theme of that body's Working Group on Indigenous Populations. Working Group Chair Miguel Alfonso Martinez analyzed the root causes of conflict involving indigenous peoples and identified two features that distinguish them from all other conflicts. First, indigenous peoples have a unique relationship with their lands that cannot easily be translated into Western notions of ownership or legal title. For indigenous peoples, land is not a commodity. It exists for collective material and spiritual benefit, and must be preserved for future generations. Second, indigenous peoples aspire to fully exercise their right to self-determination. Martinez defines self-determination as "the possession of the political authority and legitimacy, as well as the enforcement power necessary to take effective, practical actions to fully materialize their rights to their lands, resources, cultural heritage, and religious practices, and to secure and protect their autochthonous institutions."

Indigenous rights to land and to self-determination are what most threaten non-indigenous interests involved in conflict with indigenous peoples. Modern states still tend to eye indigenous lands as terra nullius available to be taken for national security purposes, to house burgeoning non-indigenous populations, or to be exploited for wealth or development. Wealthy private interests, often in cahoots with states, covet the riches from natural resources to be accrued from indigenous territories. The power disparity between states and wealthy interests on the one hand, and indigenous peoples on the other, is huge. While modern medicine now prevents some of the devastation once caused by contagious disease, and international human rights norms and watchdog mechanisms help curb mass expulsions or genocidal practices, indigenous peoples today are still the most marginal and exploited members of society in all of the states in which they live. Despite national law reforms to the contrary, states and other powerful interests resist including indigenous peoples in decision-making processes that impact their lives, and almost never let indigenous values or practices govern those processes.

This issue of the Cultural Survival Quarterly offers a multi-dimensional, contemporary examination of indigenous peoples and conflict involving states and other outside interests. Like Martinez, we use the phrase "conflict" to refer to those circumstances and events that include not only war or other violent confrontation, but the events that precede the eruption of violence or recourse to arms, including disputes that have festered without appropriate solution for a long period. In addition, we include those events that follow violence, including the processes by which violence is quelled, and post-conflict reconstruction measures aimed at ensuring that violence does not recur.

The Churchill School of Adulthood – Lesson #1: Develop a Mighty Moral Code

The following is a reprint of an article by Brett & Kate McKay that appears in the Art of Manliness web site.

Last week we kicked off the Winston Churchill School of Adulthood by talking about two central tenets of growing up well: embracing the opportunity to author your life’s story, and cultivating a comfort with the seemingly contradictory energies and perspectives that can make that story rich and memorable.

With that foundation in place, it’s time to delve into what exactly those divergent energies are. Some of the 7 lessons to come will be shorter and more practical, others longer and more philosophical. I figured we’d start with the meatiest, most important, and perhaps most controversial of them all: developing an unshakable moral code. It is a task that involves something that many of us struggle with: allowing for the happy coexistence of both doubt and belief.

Let’s see how Churchill was able to let these two currents intermingle, while still maintaining a deep bedrock of principles.

Advisors Hopeful Jeb Bush Finally Has Momentum To End Campaign

This "commentary" appears on the Onion web site. They have some fun publishing something as though—but clearly not—written by Bush's advisors. I suspect they think they have captured their true feelings. Read More...

How to Build Relationships That Don’t Scale

The following is a reprint of an article by John Corcoran that appears in the Art of Manliness web site.

Tell me if this sounds familiar: you spend hours upon hours on Facebook or some other social media platform, and yet you feel more lonely and disconnected than ever. You have thousands of “friends” online, but you don’t feel comfortable saying hello to one of them if you pass on the street. And even though you know intimate details about what some person you worked with 10 years ago had for dinner last night, you find it difficult making time to see your closest friends.

Maybe some of this rings a bell with you. If it does, I want to share some information and advice which may resonate as well.

Paul Graham, a legendary tech investor in Silicon Valley, published a piece last year titled Do Things That Don’t Scale. While the focus of that article was how tech startups operate, when I read it, I immediately thought the lessons also applied to building relationships today and a fundamental mistake that many people make when trying to do so.

The article challenged the prevailing wisdom across the startup community that new businesses should focus their efforts on only those activities which can “scale” their business — growing while keeping costs steady (that is, not investing more in order to grow more). In the article, Graham wrote:

“A lot of would-be founders believe that startups either take off or don’t. You build something, make it available, and if you’ve made a better mousetrap, people beat a path to your door as promised. Or they don’t, in which case the market must not exist. Actually startups take off because the founders make them take off. There may be a handful that just grew by themselves, but usually it takes some sort of push to get them going.”

Graham also used the metaphor of an old car engine which had to be started using a hand crank, before engines came with electric starters. “Once the engine was going, it would keep going, but there was a separate and laborious process to get it going,” writes Graham. The point is you need to put in the labor to get the crank going to begin with.

Alberta Employer Fined $80,000 Following Conveyor Incident

An Alberta employer has been sentenced to a fine of $80,000 plus the 15% victim fine surcharge following a workplace incident which occurred in 2011 at its distribution centre. Read More...

"You Compete Me" – Will The Courts Love Your Company’s Restrictive Covenants For Employees As Much As You Do?

An area of law where both employers and employees often struggle to find clarity is the area of restrictive covenants, specifically non-competition and non-solicitation clauses for employees. Part of the reason for frequent confusion is that this area of law – and specifically whether and how a non-competition or non-solicitation clause is enforceable – tends to be very fact-specific. While these types of clauses will tend to have some standard elements, the factual scenarios in which they typically unfold in litigation tend to be somewhat unique from one another. It can therefore be challenging to predict precisely when these clauses will be enforced by the courts. That said, there are some basic aspects of this area of law that merit review, because it is important that employers be mindful of them and consider whether the clauses they are using should be reviewed or updated. Read More...

Why you may want to include password retrieval instructions in your will

The following is a reprint of an article by Abhimanyu Ghoshal that appears in the TNW News web site.

CBC reports that when 72-year old widow Peggy Bush wanted to retrieve her late husband’s Apple ID password to play card games on her iPad, she was told that she’d need to produce a court order to have the company share it with her. Read More...

Project Manager in Metron Construction Case Sentenced to 3½ Years Imprisonment

The following is a reprint of an article by Jean Torrens & John Agioritis of MLT.

In a previous post, we discussed the case of Vadim Kazenelson, the Project Manager convicted on five counts of criminal negligence under s. 217.1 and 220 of the Criminal Code when five workers employed by Metron Construction Inc. fell more than 100 feet to the ground after the swing stage they were working on suddenly collapsed. Four of the workers died and one was seriously injured because they were not attached to a lifeline. The Project Manager was aware that there were an insufficient number of lifelines on the swing stage. On January 11, 2016, the Project Manager was sentenced to 3½ years imprisonment on each of the five counts to be served concurrently. Read More...

The Power of Checklists

The following is a reprint of an article that appears in the Art of Manliness web site.

In the modern age, we know more than ever before, and the information has never been so readily available.

And yet individuals and organizations often fail to deliver on the promise of all this knowledge. In fact, we are often the victim, and the architect, of head-slapping displays of incompetence when it comes to delivering what’s been promised, or forgetting routine things that have no business being overlooked.

Why is there so often this mismatch between potential and application?

As our knowledge about the world increases, so too does its complexity. And as complexity goes up, so do the opportunities for failure.

Medicine is a great example of where our increased knowledge has made things better, but also more complex, with more possibilities for snafus. Before the mid-20th century, medicine was pretty simple. There wasn’t much specialization; when you went to the hospital, there was usually one doctor and a few general nurses overseeing your care.

Now when you go to the hospital, you can have several teams taking care of you. Nurses, nurse technicians, radiologists, dieticians, oncologists, cardiologists, and so on and so forth. All these people have the know-how to deliver top-notch healthcare, and yet studies show that failures are common, most often due to plain old ineptitude. For example, 30% of patients who suffer a stroke receive incomplete or inappropriate care from their doctors, as do 45% of patients with asthma, and 60% of patients with pneumonia.

It’s not ignorance or ill-intent that causes these failures. Knowledge abounds among our healthcare practitioners. The problem is that because medicine is more sophisticated and specialized, applying that knowledge correctly across several teams is harder. There are multiple streams of information to remember and manage.

And the tragic thing is it’s often the “stupid” simple stuff that gets people killed or keeps them in the hospital for longer than they needed to be. I have an acquaintance who ended up in the hospital for two weeks because he got the wrong heart medicine. The problem was ultimately one of miscommunication — a basic thing you think would be a given, seeing as how hospitals can transplant human faces and whatnot.

This isn’t a problem unique to medicine, of course. It exists across almost every domain of life, be it business or science or even just getting things done around the house or on your car. More and more of our work requires coordinating different teams to get a task done. If you work for a big corporation, you’re likely collaborating with a whole host of people to complete a project. And just as in medicine, you’ve likely seen projects delayed or even fail not because of lack of know-how, but due to head-scratching ineptitude.

The crux of this problem is while the world around us is becoming more and more complex, we’re still stuck with a brain that hasn’t changed much in 100,000 years. Sure, we’ve figured out ways to off-load memory storage to books and computers so we can know more; we just haven’t figured out a good way to overcome our evolved biases, cognitive flaws, and intrinsic forgetfulness. And so, despite owning a brain brimming with ever more knowledge, we continue to make stupid mistakes.

But what if there was a tool that could help us avoid misapplying knowledge and overcome cognitive flaws the same way data storage has helped us be more informed?

Well, there is one, and you’ve probably used it today.

The humble checklist.

Let's Take This Outside: Can Employers Discipline Employees For Off-Duty Misconduct?

There has never been a worse time for professional sports leagues when it comes to dealing with player misconduct off the field. Headlines across North America have been full of stories detailing the trials and tribulations of league officials in disciplining these athletes. Each case, it seems, has resulted in diverse and inconsistent disciplinary results.

Compare, for example, the differences between the Los Angeles Kings' conduct with defenceman Slava Voynov after his arrest on domestic violence charges, with the way the Colorado Avalanche reacted after goaltender Semyon Varlamov was charged with a similar offence last year. The NHL is not alone in dealing with these issues. The NFL has encountered its own controversies over the off-field conduct of several stars, including running backs Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson. These matters bring sharply into focus the difficult issues facing employers when an employee's conduct is called into question.

An Offer They Can’t Refuse – The Dangers Of Recruiting High Level Employees

An employer is paying the price for dismissing an employee who was recruited with an attractive job offer. Read More...

Visions Over Goals

The following is a reprint of an article that appears in the Art of Manliness web site.

Another New Year is once again upon us and millions of people around the world are settingW big, ambitious goals and resolutions for themselves (including yours truly).

While I’ve long been a fan of goal setting, my ardor for it has cooled a bit. I still think they’re useful and I still set them, but through conversations with organizational/personal development experts, as well as various books I read last year, I’ve come to think that focusing too much on goals can actually get in the way of living a truly flourishing life.

So instead of being goal-focused this year, I’m trying to be more vision-focused. It’s an approach I’d recommend you take as well. So what’s the difference? Let’s dig in, and together get going on a year full of promise and progress.

"Zero Tolerance", Automatic Suspension Approach To Safety Violations Criticized, Written Warning Substituted

zero tol
Employers are increasingly taking a "zero tolerance" approach in which a minimum level of discipline – whether a suspension or dismissal – is imposed for certain serious safety violations. In a recent case, an arbitrator criticized the approach as unfair to the employee. Read More...

How not to say the wrong thing

ring theory
The following is a reprint of an article that appears as an Op-Ed in the April 7, 2013 edition of the Los Angeles Times. My good friend, Arline Trew, brought it to my attention.

It works in all kinds of crises -- medical, legal, even existential. It's the 'Ring Theory' of kvetching. The first rule is comfort in, dump out.—Susan Silk and Barry Goldman