The Legal Side of the Headlines

Two issues have been dominating the Greater Toronto Area headlines the past few weeks: The Teacher’s Unions work to rule action and Rob Ford’s Conflict of Interest Case.

As I write this blog, the Rob Ford conflict matter is headed for an argument on a Stay, pending appeal. As a lawyer the frustrating aspect of reading about this case is not the politics, it’s how the legal reasoning in the Judge’s decision has been glossed over by most media outlets, reducing the issue to left over right.

When the decision was released I did the “lawyerly thing” I read the decision. The thing that jumped off the page for me was the Judge’s commentary that the legislation restricted what he could do to all or nothing. Judges interpret the law, they do not write the statutes.

The interesting aspect of this matter for me is the legal aspect: how a law suit pointed out a problem with a statute – it happens more often than the public is likely made aware, but it is an important part of the development of law in Canada.

This brings me now to the teachers.

The teachers, as I understand it, have launched a law suit to challenge the legality of the law changing their collective bargaining rights.

As a lawyer I think that is the right thing to do if you disagree with a legal issue – take it to Court and have a Judge decide. I do that all the time.

What I don’t do, is sue someone on behalf of my client and then encourage my client to start a street campaign against their opponent. If I did that in a lawsuit my client’s behavior would like weigh against them in the litigation, as it should.

If you take a matter to the Court, then let the Court decide.

Somehow this aspect of the teachers dispute has been glossed over by the media who are more interested in the next threatened job action.

Too bad, as from the legal point of view, the law suit is likely to have a far greater impact on the future of collective bargaining than driving a wedge between teachers, students and parents.

Inga B. Andriessen JD