Archive for May, 2014

Wire Transfer Emails

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

I have heard from a couple of people today that they have received e-mails supposedly from me asking for information related to wire transfers to be sent.  I guess it has been a couple of years so it’s my turn again to be used by scammers claiming to be me in some form of phishing endeavour.

Needless to say, I have not sent out any e-mails related to wire transfer information.  Please do not send any replies to the e-mail or give any information related to your bank accounts in response to the e-mail.  I’m sorry for any inconvenience but it’s not me.

CALC

 

Decline to Vote

Friday, May 23rd, 2014

It’s time for a rant – because it’s been ages – so please humour me as usual.  And I apologize for getting on my soap box, but it’s for something that I just can’t sit on the sidelines about any longer.  I wont’ say “don’t vote”, but I will say “decline to vote”.

Let’s put all the cards on the table.  As a good old-fashioned Alberta boy, I am about as conservative as they get.  I have always voted conservative – except during the years when the Reform Party existed, and then I voted for Reform.  The title of my Master’s of Law thesis was “A Neo-Conservative Approach to Standing in Charter of Rights Litigation”.  I have been a good conservative voter since the age of 18.  I have held my nose on occasion and voted the party line even when it was highly questionable – like the time I voted for an 18 year old high school student who ran for the Reform Party who had been in Canada for only about 2 years and had absolutely no qualifications to be elected the local dog catcher, let alone an M.P.

I am also, however, the father of two children on the autism spectrum.  As such, it hit very close to home when one of my good friends forwarded to me this morning Tasha Kheiriddin’s article about why she can’t vote for Tim Hudak in Ontario’s upcoming election.  (Disclaimer, for what it’s worth: I went to law school with Tasha, she was a year ahead of me, but I never really had much interaction with her.)  Tasha’s article is found at:

http://www.nationalpost.com/2014/05/20/tasha-kheiriddin-why-i–cant-vote-for-tim-hudak/

As one of life’s little twists, I married a life-long, dyed-in-the-wool voter for the Liberal party.  [Yes, I know, nobody's perfect and I've learned to overlook her clear political shortcomings in light of the many, many other fantastic qualities of my wife ;-)   ]  The result has been years of cancelling each other’s votes out come election day and we would joke that we had to vote if for no other purpose than to cancel out the other’s vote.  If you change “my daughter” in Tasha’s article to “my sons” you would get basically the article as if it were written by my wife.

With all of the scandals, mismanagement and other problems which have been caused by the Ontario provincial Liberal party, it ALMOST got to the point where my wife was thinking of voting for the P.C.s in this election.  And then Mr. Hudak opened his mouth and announced that he would be slashing jobs in the public service and made it pretty clear that the education system was a key place for those cuts.  On hearing this, I had a very serious crisis of conscience.  For my wife, whatever thoughts she had of voting P.C. immediately evaporated and she will hold her nose and vote Liberal this time around.

You would think that Mr. Hudak would have learned from his predecessor, John Tory’s, failure.  Two elections ago, Mr. Tory waded into the dangerous waters of playing around with the educational system (in that case it was to have only a public school system and to do away with funding for faith-based schools – most notably Catholic school boards).  The damage to his campaign was clear and painful to watch – even with his attempts at the end to reverse course and take his proposal off the discussion table.  And yet, Mr. Hudak is running into exactly the same issue – except from a different angle.  If you want to REALLY tick off Canadians, threaten their health care system or their education system.

The question for me, could I hold my nose this time and vote P.C.?  And then they announced who would be our local P.C. candidate – our current Catholic school board trustee (and former Chair of the Board) who was removed from her seat as trustee for conflict of interest and other problems.  I have to admit that I’m still trying to figure out how she ever got re-elected, but that’s another story (when even the Archbishop of Toronto is asking that she and the other trustees not be re-elected, something’s not right).  And, for those who want to see the story, you can go here:

http://www.nationalpost.com/2010/10/27/six-returned-to-scandal-plagued-catholic-school-board/

I don’t have any personal vendetta against this lady, but the reality is that I couldn’t vote to re-elect her as a trustee in light of the problems and I similarly can’t vote for her to be my representative in the provincial legislature.

So now the dilemma leads me to what would be the natural solution: for the first time in my adult life, don’t vote.  (I’m not even going to humour the thought of voting for the Liberals or the N.D.P. since they’re not viable options for me.  Similarly, I cannot vote for any of the other fringe parties and wasting my vote when it won’t matter.)  The solution, thankfully, has been suggested by The Toronto Star in an article a few days ago:  decline to vote.

Not voting doesn’t get noticed unless the voter apathy is huge (which it might be).  That said, I firmly believe that it is our civic duty to show up at the polling station.  I could spoil my ballot, but then the vote doesn’t count and, as such, it is not reflected in any records for the election.  But, I can “decline to vote”.  What this means is that you go to the polling station, register to vote and then, instead of going to the booth to mark your ballot, you then declare that you have “declined to vote” and ask the person at the desk to mark down your position and he/she will have to do this.

Is this wasting my vote?  You bet.  But, then again, in my opinion, so is voting for any of the parties this election.  The difference is that at least this doesn’t vote in somebody.  But, it could be asked, aren’t I just increasing the chances of the Liberals or the N.D.P. forming the next government by withholding a vote for the P.C.’s?  Maybe.  But it really doesn’t matter which party makes up the government this time around – it’s a lesser of 3 evils so whichever one we get the only question is HOW we’re going to suffer from bad government, not IF we’re going to suffer.  And if it turns out that the government is not a P.C. government, hopefully this will show the P.C.s that it ‘s time for a new leader and maybe some of the flock (myself included) will happily return back to the fold.

The scary part is how bad things have to become when middle-aged conservative lawyers are making statements that you would expect to hear from a 20-something idealistic university student.  Has it really come to this?  Unfortunately, it looks like it has.  And that’s why I will be declining to vote this election and I would urge the rest of you to do the same.

It’s a shame, and it’s something to think about.

CALC

 

 

 

Nasty Neighbours

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

I have had the opportunity to handle a number of neighbor disputes over the years.  Put simply, these cases tend to degenerate where economic and legal realities fade away and the case turns into little more than a “grudge match” that happens to be occurring in the legal realm.  Another example of this resulted in a decision from the Ontario Superior Court yesterday involving two sets of neighbours from the Forest Hill area of Toronto (for those who don’t know, it’s one of the well-off areas of the City).  As noted by the Court, there was no merit to the claims of the plaintiffs other than the neighbours were not being nice (and it looks like this was the case).  The case can be found at:

http://www.canlii.org/en/on/onsc/doc/2014/2014onsc3061/2014onsc3061.html

Two passages are of worth in quoting from Justice Morgan’s decision:

“… a Court cannot order the Defendants to be nice to the Plaintiffs.”

and

“… There is no claim for pooping and scooping into the neighbour’s garbage can, and there is no claim for letting Rover water the neighbour’s hedge.  Likewise, there is no claim for looking at the neighbour’s pretty house, parking a car legally but with malintent, engaging in faux photography on a public street, raising objections at a municipal hearing, walking on the sidewalk with dictaphone in hand, or just plain thinking badly of a person who lives nearby.”

Justice Morgan also stated that the parties did not need the court but, instead, a stern kindergarten teacher.

I bring this case to your attention for a couple of reasons.  The first is that it is a good example of the displeasure that the courts have in dealing with these types of disputes.  The second is that I am often asked whether someone has a claim against their neighbour for, in essence, being a “bad neighbour” and so here is your answer without having to ask me and hear me say “no”.  The third reason is that at the end of this case the Court decided to award no legal costs to either side.  Clearly the plaintiffs were not entitled to costs because they lost completely.  Normally, though, the defendants would be entitled to costs for what was held by the Court to be an unmeritorious claim.  But costs were denied to the defendants because the Court felt that the defendants were as much to blame and were “egging on” the plaintiffs.  In the end, then, even though the defendants “won” the case, they still “lose” in the sense of the legal fees that they have had to pay which, according to the decision, was somewhere in the amount of “tens of thousands of dollars.”  So, just because you are “legally” correct, doesn’t mean it still isn’t going to cost you to deal with the matter in court.

Something to think about.

CALC

ps.  I wrote this entry early this morning.  Since that time, I have learned that the case was also mentioned in both The Globe and Mail and The National Post.  I learned this through MANY e-mails I received from colleagues sent to myself and other colleagues all basically saying “Have you seen this ruling in this crazy case?”, or words to that effect.  So, an additional thing to think about is that, with the joy of Internet access, you can be guaranteed that if anyone does a search on either set of neighbours for the next decade at least, this decision (and the corresponding embarrassment for being chastised by the judge) is going to be dredged up each time.  So that’s something else to think about before you decide to sue your neighbours.