Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ Category

Be Careful of What You Say on the Internet

Monday, April 24th, 2017

Defamation is the damaging of one’s reputation in the eyes of other people.  Its spoken form is known as “slander” and its written form is known as “libel”.  Libel is the more problematic form of defamation because, generally speaking, when Person A defames Person B by means of the spoken word, it is only those who have heard it who are effected and (assuming nobody repeats it) the words are then lost in the air; while, with libel, a defamatory statement that is written down will remain for however long the writing remains (a defamatory statement about Julius Caesar chiselled in the wall of the Roman Coliseum could still be read today, for example).

And then we have the Internet.  In my Roman Coliseum example, it is only if you go to Rome and happen to go to the exact column where the defamatory statement is written that you can find the statement.  With the Internet, I can now do a Google search on Julius Caesar and see the defamatory statement in a picture taken by some tourist two years ago – all from my desk.  And if Julius Caesar was still alive today and tried to get that picture removed from Google, he might succeed but by the time he had Google remove it, it would have been picked up by all numbers of other search engines, the “dark web”, etc.

A recent decision of the Ontario Superior Court in McNairn v. Murphy dealt with two libellous statements written by two defendants in separate e-mails.  The fact that there could be defamatory by e-mail and that the plaintiff could sue and get judgment for that defamation is not particularly new and exciting.  But what IS interesting is that the Court decided to give a survey of the amounts awarded for damages in similar cases (many related to blog posts or comments on web sites, etc.) from across the country.  (See paragraphs 48 through 55.)  With one or two exceptions, it appears that the lowest amount awarded for Internet-based defamatory statements is $50,000.

So, if you happen to have an extra $50,000 or more burning a hole in your pocket, then feel free to let your fingers fly and type whatever you want about someone.  But if, like me and probably most people, you either don’t have that much money to burn or you can think of better things to spend your money on, you might want to count to 10 before you click on the “Send” or “Submit” button.

Something to think about.



Applying for a Job? Googled Yourself Lately?

Monday, September 19th, 2016

My law clerk Emily is about to go away on a maternity leave.  Great for her.  Not so great for me as I have to find someone to replace her during this time.  But that’s part of the joy of being the boss and so the search commenced, people applied and decisions had to be made about who should get an interview.

In the old days when I had to hire someone – either on a temporary or a permanent basis – I had the cover letter and the resume and that was just about it.  If I recognized the names of any lawyers who someone worked for, or knew someone at a prior law firm, I might make a phone call to see if I could get a “quickie” reference.  But that was if I was lucky and, in most cases, I wasn’t so lucky.  Now with the boom in that Interweb-thingy (as my mother would call it) and social media, I have found out far more about candidates than I ever thought I would.

And what surprises me even more is that, in 2016, people still aren’t getting it clear that it might be a good idea to either not have public profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. or, if nothing else, to not have photos up so that potential employers can confirm identities.  Let me give you a simple example.  I had a potential candidate, let’s say her name was Sue Johnston (it wasn’t).  Sue has a profile on LinkedIn which looks very professional.  Good for Sue.  As part of that profile, it has a very nice, professional picture of Sue smiling and looking very proper.  Sue also has accounts on FaceBook and Twitter.  Problem #1: Sue has used the same name throughout her social media accounts, so if you search Google for “Sue Johnston” + Toronto, you find on the first page Sue’s LinkedIn profile, but also her FaceBook and Twitter profiles.  If Sue had used “Sue-o-rama” or “The Sue-in-ator” or any other pseudonym, I may well have not found her FaceBook or Twitter profiles.  Problem #2: Sue has used photos for FaceBook and Twitter in her profile that, while not the exact same photo as for LinkedIn, has made it very obvious that this is the same person in the various social media accounts – so Sue would not be able to say “Oh, but that’s not me” when it’s blatantly obvious it’s the same person and I didn’t have to do any scrolling down through the various posts to confirm the identity (which I might not have done if I had been in a rush).  Problem #3: Sue’s FaceBook and Twitter pages are publicly accessible.  I only had to click on the link from Google and I was reading all about Sue.

Fortunately for Sue, the fact that I now know when she lost her virginity, what her favourite alcoholic beverage is and how long she has been with her boyfriend means absolutely nothing to me and is completely irrelevant for the purposes of deciding whether to give her an interview or not (and, as it turns out, she did get an interview).  But think about this: if I had asked any of (a) when did you lose your virginity; (b) what’s your favourite alcoholic drink; or (c) are you in a relationship with anyone and, if so, how long has that been going on; not only would these questions be COMPLETELY unprofessional but, in fact, they could have easily resulted in my facing a complaint at the Ontario Human Rights Commission.  Now, let’s take those questions a little bit further.  Can I ask if she is married?  Can I ask about children?  Can I ask about her religious beliefs?  Can I ask about her ethnic background? In most instances, the answer to those questions would each time be “No.”  And yet, if she put this information up on her FaceBook or Twitter pages, I could find out all of this information and I (or any other employer) could discriminate against her on the basis of her family status, religion or ethnicity.  But how would she ever know it because she would simply never get the interview and never know why someone else got the job instead of her.

One of the purposes of human rights legislation is, among other things, to prevent discrimination in employment circumstances – including discrimination when it comes to hiring someone.  And yet, if everything is laid out for all to see on FaceBook or Twitter, whatever protections are provided by the human rights codes can be significantly reduced, if not eliminated (at least on a practical, functional level).

So if you’re thinking of looking for a new job, or have to look for a new job, go ahead and do a Google search on your name and see what you find.  And whatever you find, ask yourself whether an employer seeing that would be (a) impressed; (b) indifferent; or (c) unimpressed.  If anything falls under option (c), or if you see anything in your profiles/tweets/posts that you might not want to voluntarily disclose to a potential employer, then you might want to find a way to ensure a potential employer cannot see this.

Something to think about.



Happy New Year – My Resolution

Sunday, January 3rd, 2016

I’m reading about 5 different books at the same time right now and in one of them I saw the most interesting fact, so I’ll quote it verbatim:

“It’s been said that children laugh an average of 450 times per day, while adults laugh an average of only 15 times a day.”

Thankfully, I laugh more than the average but, that being said, I’m clearly far below a child’s level.  So this year my New Year’s resolution will be one that should be easily attainable and hopefully not too costly: laugh more.

Now … where’s that old whoopee cushion?


Something to think (and laugh) about.


Une Lettre d’Amour et d’Encouragement à Paris

Sunday, November 15th, 2015

Je m’assois devant mon ordinateur et je ne sais pas comment exactement m’exprimer au sujet des événements du vendredi passé.

En 2008, j’ai célébré le dixième anniversaire de mon mariage et on est allés à Paris où on a passé une semaine dans le premier arrondissement.  J’ai dit à ma femme qu’il nous faut vingt ans pour le faire, mais on passera nos vacances à Paris et on restera chaque fois dans un arrondissement différent et on a presque fait ça chaque année depuis 2008.  Cela nous donne un goût pour chaque quartier de la ville que l’on aime tant.  On a déja passé nos vacances dans les premier, deuxième, troisième, cinquième, huitième et quatorzième arrondissements – trois fois avec nos gosses.  La dernière fois, en août 2015, c’était dans le quatorzième arrondissement près de la Tour Montparnasse.

En janvier 2015 il y a eu l’attentat contre Charlie Hebdo.  Un des personnes tué dans cet attentat était Georges Wolinski.  On a pris une partie de nos vacances pour se ballader dans la cimetière Montparnasse où est enterré, entre autres, Serge Gainsbourgh, Jean-Paul Sartre, Charles Beaudelaire, etc.  Par hasard, je me suis trouvé devant la tombe de  M. Wolinski.  J’ai pris une photo de sa tombe:

Parce que l’événement était encore frais dans mon ésprit, c’était un moment émouvant d’être devant sa tombe.

J’ai eu un procès qui aurait dû commencer à Belleville en Ontario le 16 novembre 2015.  Le 12 novembre j’ai reçu un courriel de la cour qui m’a dit qu’il n’y a pas de juge disponible pour entendre le procès et, ainsi, le procès doit être annulé et aura lieu quelquefois dans 2016.  Le procès aurait pris deux semaines et, parce que j’ai soudainnement deux semaines libre dans mon calendrier, j’ai dit à ma femme “Pourrais-tu parler avec ta sœur et peut-être elle peut surveiller les gamins et nous pourrions aller à Paris pour quelques jours car j’ai assez de points de voyage pour un billet gratuit.”

Le lendemain, vendredi le 13, les gamins n’ont pas dû aller à l’école et j’ai décidé de rester chez nous, travailler un peu, et jouez avec les gamins, faire des courses avec eux, etc.  Alors, je suis allé au lit tard jeudi soir (ou, plus exacte, tôt vendredi matin) après avoir regardé deux films francais, “La Femme du Cinquième” et “Qu’est-ce qu’on a fait au Bon Dieu”.

J’ai commencé le vendredi comme tous les jours du weekend avec mon espresso et croissant dans la cuisine en regardant les nouvelles de France 24 sur mon iPhone et aussi en regardant nos photos de Paris sur les murs de la cuisine.  Ensuite, je lisais des articles dans les éditions les plus récentes des magazines “Living France” et “French Property News” qui sont venues plus tôt cette semaine.  On a acheté des bottes d’hiver pour les gamins et on a décidé de prendre un casse-croûte chez un resto français.  Jusqu’a ce temps, c’était un jour parfait pour moi et j’étais tres content.  (Comme vous l’avez déja constaté, je suis juste un peu d’un francophile et ma ville préféré au monde est Paris.)

Pour rentrer chez nous, on a pris le métro et ma femme a noté un petit nouvelle sur l’écran au-dessus qu’il y avait une problème dans une boîte de nuit à Paris et qu’il y avait quelques morts.  Quand j’ai levé la tête pour regarder l’annonce il n’était pas encore là et il y avait une autre annonce.  J’ai essayé de me renseigner plus sur la site internet du Monde mais il n’y avait pas des nouvelles.  Quand on a rentré, on commence de savoir l’ampleur des événements et de la tragédie.  J’étais collé devant la télé pendant cinq ou six heures cet soir en télézappant entre CNN, SRC et CTV et, en même temps, en surfant sur les sites du Monde, BFM, France 24 et France 2.  Heureusement, ni nos amis ni nos proches ne sont pas parmi les victimes.

Josephine Baker, entre autres, a chanté qu’elle avait deux amours: son pays et Paris.  C’est pareil pour moi et ma famille.  Il va sans dire que je n’irai pas à Paris avec ma femme dans les deux semaines prochaines, mais maintenant la question n’est pas SI, mais QUAND, on y ira pour soutenir la ville que l’on aime et les gens qui étaient si accueillant pendant nos visites auparavant.

Je veux donner mes condoléances les plus profondes aux parisiens et parisiennes (et surtout à nos amis et nos proches) et vous dire que l’on partage votre tristesse et douleur.  La ville a eu des incidents pareils dans le passé et elle a réussi à les surmonter et je sais qu’elle le fera encore avec cette tragédie.  Bon courage Paris, toutes nos prières sonts avec vous.





Bonne Fête Nationale

Tuesday, July 14th, 2015

Je veux prendre un instant pour dire à tous mes amis en France que je vous souhaite une bonne Fête nationale ce 14 juillet.  Et à toutes mes proches, je vous verrai d’ici quatre semaines.  Pour moi, je vais célébrer le 14 juillet ce samedi quand PSG sera à Toronto pour affronter SL Benefica à BMO Field.



Je Suis Charlie

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015

“I may disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”  That quote is often, but incorrectly, attributed to the French writer Voltaire.

I will be the first to admit that Charlie Hebdo often pushes the envelope a little too far.  I may not agree with many things they publish.  I said the same thing for many years when Canada’s closest equivalent to Charlie Hebdo was in print – Frank Magazine.  But no matter how far Charlie Hebdo pushed things, nobody deserved to lose their lives over it.

And for that reason today,


Unfortunately, something to think about.



Things That Make You Think “Hmmmm”

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

Okay, so I have to admit that I’m not particularly original.  I end many blog posts with “Something to think about”.  For those who are 30 years old or more, you will remember the ORIGINAL Arsenio Hall Show and his segment of “Something to make you think HMMMM” that was usually during his monologue at the beginning of the show.  Make a slight twist to this and there’s my end line for each post.  I have never professed to be original and full props to Arsenio.

In any event, there I was sitting in Mass like a good little boy a couple of weeks ago and listening to the Second Reading and it’s from the First Letter to the Corinthians from St. Paul at Chapter 15, Verses 51 through 57.  And the lector is reading and I’m following along and everything is fine until the lector gets to Verse 56 and reads:

“The sting of death is sin; and the power of sin is the law.”

Um, excuse me?  OK, let me get this straight.  Are you, St. Paul, saying that as an officer of the law, and thus an agent of the law, I’m also an agent of sin?  I’ve heard of being the Devil’s Advocate before but this is a bit more than a label being stuck on here.

Maybe I heard it wrong.  So I make it home and pull out my French Bible to see if there was a problem in translation.  Nope, the French version is basically the same as the English version:  “L’aiguillon de la mort, c’est le péché; et la puissance du péché, c’est la loi.”  To make matters more interesting, there are no “side notes” to suggest that Saint Jerome or anyone after him made an error in translation.

So the power of sin is the law, eh?  Is that Roman law?  Jewish law?  Eccclesiastical law? Or “the law” in general?  And what if it is a general reference?  Interesting thought and, I have to admit, that for the past couple of weeks it’s been,

Something to think about.




Two in One Day – Q.Arb.

Friday, October 17th, 2014

Well, it’s been a lucky day for me today.  As mentioned in my last post of a little while ago, I received word from London, England earlier today that I had been accepted as a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators.  Then this afternoon I received word that I had been accepted for accreditation by the ADR Institute of Canada with their Q.Arb. designation.  I probably have more letters after my name than in my name now!

Since it’s been such a lucky day, I better pick up a lottery ticket on the way home tonight!




Friday, October 17th, 2014

For I’m a jolly (good?) Fellow, for I’m a jolly Fellow, etc., etc.

I’m happy to announce that after passing my exams and my peer interview, I have been accepted as a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators which is based in London, England.  I now get to trade in the letters MCIArb after my name and replace it with FCIArb.  I have gone from being a member to being a fellow (let the jokes commence – I’ll start it  - “yes, but you’re still a …”).  But, seriously, it is an honour to have been accepted and I look forward to making use of my heightened credentials in future arbitrations.



An End to Comments

Sunday, October 12th, 2014

I have to admit that I’m raising the white flag.  The numbers are simple.  In the entirety of the 7+ years that I’ve been doing this blog I have received a grand total of 3, yes 3, genuine comments on blog postings.  That works out to 0.43 comments per year.  Instead, I often receive questions or comments via e-mail.

In contrast, however, I am averaging around 200 spam blog comments PER DAY.  This clogs up my inbox and it requires me to delete the e-mails at least twice per day from both my inbox and from the moderation panel here for the blog – so I have to delete 400 or so messages per day.  Put simply, I’m sick and tired of doing it because at least for the comments on the blog (which is where I start), I have to give a quick read of each comment on the off-chance that it is a valid comment and should not be deleted.

So this long weekend I have finally decided to put an end to the comments and I am taking back about 20 minutes of my day back for myself and I have changed the settings so that no more comments will be allowed for this blog.  If you wish to send me a question or a comment, please feel free to do so via e-mail and I will answer you and I will put your comment or question and my response on the applicable blog posting if it makes sense to do so (as I have done in the past).

I would apologize for any inconvenience, but at 0.43 comments per year put to the blog, it’s hardly an inconvenience.