The Honourable Christopher J. Giaschi’s Questionnaire
Under the new judicial application process introduced by the Minister of Justice on October 20, 2016, any interested and qualified Canadian lawyer or judge may apply for federal judicial appointment by completing a questionnaire. The questionnaires are then used by the Judicial Advisory Committees across Canada to review candidates and submit a list of “highly recommended” and “recommended” candidates for consideration by the Minister éof Justice. Candidates are advised that parts of their questionnaire may be made available to the public, with their consent, should they be appointed to the bench. The information is published as it was submitted by the candidates at the time they applied, subject to editing where necessary for privacy reasons.
Below are Parts 5, 6, 7, and 11 of the questionnaire completed by the Honourable Christopher J. Giaschi.
Questionnaire for Judicial Appointment
Part 5 – Language
Please note that in addition to the answers to the questions set out below, you may be assessed as to your level of language proficiency.
Without further training, are you able to read and understand court materials in:
- English: Yes
- French: No
Without further training, are you able to discuss legal matters with your colleagues in:
- English: Yes
- French: No
Without further training, are you able to converse with counsel in court in:
- English: Yes
- French: No
Without further training, are you able to understand oral submission in court in:
- English: Yes
- French: No
Part 6 – Education
Name of Institutions, Years Attended, Degree/Diploma and Year Obtained:
- University of Toronto, 1978-1982, B.A. (Honours), obtained 1982
- York University School of Business, 1982-1986, M.B.A., obtained 1986
- York University, Osgoode Hall Law School, 1982-1986, LLB, obtained 1986
- (Note that from 1982-1986, I was enrolled in the joint law/MBA program at York University which involved working on both an LLB degree and an MBA degree simultaneously.)
I have attended, and taught at, many continuing education seminars and conferences. In particular, on an annual basis since 1994. I present/teach at a continuing education seminar/conference on the subject matter of recent developments in maritime law.
Honours and Awards:
1982 – J. Reginald Adams Gold Medal in Political Science and Economics awarded by Victoria College at the University of Toronto for the highest marks in Political Science & Economics.
Part 7 – Professional and Employment History
Please include a chronology of work experience, starting with the most recent and showing employers’ names and dates of employment. For legal work, indicate areas of work or specialization with years and, if applicable, indicate if they have changed.
Legal Work Experience:
1997 - Present: Partner of Giaschi & Margolis, a small Vancouver firm specializing in maritime law and marine insurance.
1991 - 1997: Associate (1991-1994) and then partner (1994 -1997) with McEwen, Schmitt & Co., a small Vancouver firm specializing in maritime law matters. McEwen Schmitt later merged into Alexander, Holbum of Vancouver and is no longer active as a separate firm.
1987 - 1991: Associate with Fasken, Campbell, Godfrey a large Toronto law firm which has merged into Fasken Martineau. My practice at Fasken, Campbell, Godfrey consisted of corporate/commercial litigation, maritime law, workers compensation and, to a lesser degree, intellectual property disputes.
Non-Legal Work Experience:
Since graduating from Law School all of my work experience has been in the legal field. However, as a student I had a varied and interesting work history. My first job was as a cinema usher on weekends at the age of 12 years old. Our family business was operating the local cinema in Bracebridge. From usher I graduated to the Candy Bar at the age of 14, then to selling tickets at the age of 16 and finally as a projectionist at the age of 18. Throughout my university years, I worked four months every summer to pay my way through university. These were factory jobs at Alcan in Bracebridge and Scarborough and at Canada Wire and Cable in Mississauga.
Other Professional Experience:
List all bar associations, legal or judicial-related committees of which you are or have been a member, and give the titles and dates of any offices which you have held in such groups.
I have had extensive involvement with, and devoted significant time to, professional organizations/associations and have acted as an executive member of many such organizations. The below list is divided into three sections: First, I list those organizations that have given me special recognition or status; Second, are those organizations where I have served in an executive capacity; and, finally, I list those organizations of which I am currently a member.
As a result my activities and contributions to maritime law I have been-awarded:
- Titular (Honorary) member status by the Comité Maritime International in 2007 (the Comité Maritime International is an international organization established in Antwerp in 1897 to promote uniformity in international maritime law.); and
- Honourary Lifetime member status by the Canadian Maritime Law Association in 2013.
Past Executive Positions
The list of the executive positions I have held in professional organizations is as follows:
- President of the Canadian Maritime Law Association (2011 - 2013)
- National Vice-President of the Canadian Maritime Law Association (2009- 2011)
- West Coast Vice-President of the Canadian Maritime Law Association (2004- 2009)
- Member of the Board of Directors of the Canadian Maritime Law Association (1998 - 2016)
- Chairperson of the National Maritime Law Section of the Canadian Bar Association (approximately 2010 - 2012)
- Chairperson of the Maritime Law subsection of the B.C. Branch of the Canadian Bar Association (approximately 2008 -2010)
- Executive Committee member of the Association of Marine Underwriters of British Columbia (approximately 2000 -2004)
- Chairperson of the Education Committee of the Association of Marine Underwriters of British Columbia (approximately 1998 -2002)
- Secretary - Maritime Law subsection of the Ontario Branch of the Canadian Bar Association (1989-1991)
Current Professional Associations
The list of professional organizations of which I am currently an active member are as follows:
- Canadian Maritime Law Association (Honorary Life Member)
- Comité Maritime International (Titular Member)
- Canadian Bar Association National Maritime Law Section (Executive Member)
- Vancouver Maritime Arbitrators Association (Arbitrating Member)
- Marine Insurance Association of British Columbia (Member)
- Canadian Board of Marine Underwriters (Member and Committee Member)
- Canadian Transport Lawyers Association (Member)
- Law Society of British Columbia (Member)
Pro Bono Activities:
The publicly accessible website, Admiraltylaw.com, was created by me and is maintained by me on an entirely pro bono basis. Through the website I receive and respond to numerous requests from various individuals and organizations seeking information on national and international maritime law. Again, this is done on a pro bono basis.
Teaching and Continuing Education:
List all legal or judicial educational organizations and activities you have been involved with (e.g. teaching course at a law faculty, bar association, National Judicial Institute, or the Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice).
The below list includes only continuing education activities that have involved teaching, writing or presenting a paper to a law faculty, lawyers association and the National Judicial Institute. It does not include presentations to trade associations or the mere attendance at seminars or conferences.
- 2004 - 2009 - I served as Adjunct Professor of Maritime Law at the University of British Columbia Law School. As an Adjunct Professor of Maritime Law I taught the following subject areas: The nature of Maritime Law and Admiralty Jurisdiction; Admiralty Practice and Procedure; Liens and Priorities in Maritime Law; and Marine Insurance.
- On an annual basis since 1994 I have presented a paper entitled "Recent Developments in Canadian Maritime Law" at continuing legal education seminars hosted by the Canadian Maritime Law Association and Canadian Bar Association, Maritime Law Section. In addition to this annual presentation, I have presented at the following seminars/conferences:
- 07/04/2017 - Presented a paper entitled "The Application of Provincial Statutes to Maritime Matters Revisited" at the National Judicial Institute: Federal Court and Federal Court of Appeal Education Seminar at Ottawa.
- 09/03/2012 - Presented a paper entitled "Case Management in the Federal Court for Intellectual Property and Maritime Matters" at the Continuing Legal Education Society of B.C. seminar entitled "Federal Court and Federal Court of Appeal Practice".
- 15/04/2011 - Presented a paper entitled "Confused Seas: The Application of Provincial Laws to Maritime Matters" at a Maritime Law Seminar sponsored by the National Judicial Institute at Ottawa.
- 28/01/2010 - Presented a paper entitled "Bill C-7, Amendments to the Marine Liability Act" to the Vancouver Maritime Arbitrators Association
- 05/11/2004 - Presented a paper entitled "Canadian Law of Carriage of Goods by Air: An Overview and Analysis of Burden of Proof” at an Education Seminar of the Federal Court and Federal Court of Appeal.
- 23/01/2002 - Presented a paper entitled "The Marine Liability Act; Parts 2, 3 and 4" at the 2002 Maritime Conference held at Toronto.
- 3/10/2000 - Presented a paper entitled "The Constitutional Implications of Ordon v Grail and the Expanding Definition of Canadian Maritime Law" to the Faculty and Students of the Dalhousie Law School.
- 04/2000 - Presented a paper entitled "Update on Priorities" at a joint seminar sponsored by the Federal Court and the Canadian Maritime Law Association.
- 20/01/1994 - Presented a paper entitled "Who is Carrier? Shipowner or Charter" to the Canadian Maritime Law Association.
- 01/1992 - Presented a paper entitled "Standard Towing Conditions and Agreements to Insure" to the Canadian Maritime Law Association.
There are many more papers and presentations of a legal nature that I have presented to trade Associations that are not included in the above.
Community and Civic Activities:
List all organizations of which you are a member and any offices held with dates.
I have been involved with various community and civic activities over the years but have never held office in any civic organizations.
As a member of the Vancouver Aquarium I was actively involved in debates and public meetings relating to whether and/or how the Aquarium should display cetaceans. My spouse and I are, and have been over the years, active supporters of B.C. Children’s Hospital, the Canadian Diabetes Association, Big Brothers of Greater Vancouver and the Arthritis Society of Canada. We regularly donate to and participate in fund raising activities for these organizations.
I live in the Douglas Park area of Vancouver. Over the years my spouse and I have participated in many of the activities at the Douglas Park Community Centre including dog training, dance and theatre. Our child also attended the Douglas Park Day Care program and we have donated several computers and other useful articles to the Day Care program. Since 2000 we have organized and hosted an annual Canada Day Party for the neighbourhood. This event has been, and continues to be, extremely successful in fostering a sense of community. As a direct result of this annual Canada Day party, we have come to know our neighbours on a close and personal level and our neighbours have similarly come to know each other.
Part 11 – The Role of the Judiciary in Canada’s Legal System
The Government of Canada seeks to appoint judges with a deep understanding of the judicial role in Canada. In order to provide a more complete basis for evaluation, candidates are asked to offer their insight into broader issues concerning the judiciary and Canada’s legal system. For each of the following questions, please provide answers of between 750 and 1000 words.
1. What would you regard as your most significant contribution to the law and the pursuit of justice in Canada?
I find it difficult to identify a single thing as "my most significant contribution" to the law and the pursuit of justice in Canada as I believe I have made several contributions that are significant. However, there are two that stand out. The first is my website, Admiraltylaw.com. In the early 1990s I created a personal website named "Chris Giaschi's Maritime Law page" which I presented at various conferences, seminars and Bar meetings to introduce the maritime and legal community to the internet. The interest and positive feedback I received prompted me to redesign and expand the website and to purchase the domain name of Admiraltylaw.com in 1997. Admiraltylaw.com was one of the very first legal websites anywhere. Since 1997 the website has undergone several redesigns and its content continues to grow.
Today, Admiraltylaw.com contains: summaries of every Canadian maritime law case decided since approximately 1992; commentaries and introductory articles on the different aspects of Canadian maritime law; and, copies of many of the papers that I have prepared over the years. It is very highly ranked on Google and all other search engines and receives thousands of visits per day from both Canadian and international visitors. I am constantly told by lawyers, students, clerks, Judges and members of the public that the site is extremely useful to them.
The importance of Admiraltylaw.com, in my view, is that it improves access to justice by making the law accessible and understandable to non-lawyers. Before websites like Admiraltylaw.com existed, non-lawyers had great difficulty determining what the law was. Their only real option was to consult with a lawyer if they had any kind of legal question. Now, lay persons can use websites like Admiraltylaw.com to find the law and, perhaps, to find answers to simple questions. I know for a fact that the site is widely used by lay persons because I receive many emails and comments from such persons thanking me for maintaining the site.
Admiraltylaw.com is also of great benefit to lawyers. The website allows lawyers to stay up to date on recent legal developments and provides a specialized legal research resource. New case decisions are constantly added to the website, often within days of the decision being rendered. A periodic visit to Admiraltylaw.com is all a maritime lawyer needs to do to stay abreast of new developments and decisions. The commentaries on the website identify the legal issues that might need to be considered for a particular matter as well as the statutes applicable. These commentaries are particularly helpful to lawyers who do not specialize in maritime law and may be unfamiliar with some of the concepts or statutes applicable.
The second contribution to the law and the pursuit of justice that I regard as significant is in relation to legislative reform and my participation with the Canadian Maritime Law Association (CMLA), the Canadian Bar Association (CBA) and the Comité Maritime International (CMI).
I served as a member of the executive committee and Director of the CMLA for 20 years and was President of that organization from 2011-2013. I have been actively involved with the CBA for over 27 years and was the Chair of the CBA national maritime law section from 2010 to 2102. I continue to attend executive meetings of the CBA national maritime law section. With the CMI, I have attended many Quasi-Diplomatic conferences and was head of the Canadian Delegation to the CMI Quadrennial Conference in Beijing in 2012. I was awarded Titular (Honourary) member status by the CMI in 2007 in recognition of my contributions to maritime law.
On behalf of the CMLA and CBA, I have personally drafted many submissions to the federal and provincial governments in relation to legislative and regulatory reform. Submissions that I have drafted, or contributed to in a significant way, include (and this is only a partial list) submissions in relation to: amendments to the Migratory Birds Convention Act in 1994; the introduction of the Marine Liability Act in 2001; amendments to the Canada Shipping Act at various times; amendments to the Marine Liability in 2009; the repeal of the B.C. Marine Insurance Act in 2009; amendments to the B.C. Insurance Act in 2009; the ratification of the Hazardous and Noxious Substances Convention in 2011; amendments to the Transportation Safety Board Regulations in 2011; and, the introduction of the Ballast Water Convention in 2012. In addition, I have appeared as a witness before Parliamentary legislative committees on various occasions to address proposed legislative changes including in relation to proposed amendments to the Marine Liability Act and the Migratory Birds Convention Act.
Through my participation in CMI, I have personally been involved with the drafting, reform or adoption of many international conventions. These include: the Salvage Convention; the Ballast Water Convention; the Wreck Removal Convention; the proposed Judicial Sale of Ships Convention; and the proposed Cross Border Insolvency Convention.
I continue to promote changes in legislation where change is necessary. Most recently I prepared a paper entitled "Sistership Arrest in the Federal Court of Canada -A Wreck in Need of Salvage" (a copy of which is available on Admiraltylaw.com) which identifies problems with the Federal Court Act and Federal Courts Rules and urges reform. This paper has been taken up by the Canadian Bar Association who is now requesting appropriate legislative changes.
2. How has your experience provided you with insight into the variety and diversity of Canadians and their unique perspectives?
I was born and grew up in the then small Ontario town of Bracebridge where everyone knew each other. In many ways my upbringing was idyllic but my family was one of only two families in the town with a recent immigrant background. My grandfather immigrated to Canada from Italy and my father was a first generation Canadian. Because of our Italian heritage and being Catholic, we were not accepted by a small minority of the citizenry. I appreciate that this may be hard to understand today but Italians and Catholics were subject to discrimination, albeit mild discrimination, at that time. I vividly recall being the subject of racial comments and slurs which, of course, I found very hurtful. However, the vast majority of the residents of the town were tolerant, kind, helpful and welcoming and this made the discrimination and racial slurs bearable. It is the tolerance and kindness of the majority that I most recall and have always tried to emulate when meeting persons of a different background.
When in my early teenage years, my parents took a very active interest in student exchange programs so that their children would be exposed to other cultures and other peoples. In the early 1970s, we began hosting foreign exchange students in our home under the auspices of the Rotary Club Student Exchange Program. Over a period of several years we had several students from Mexico, Brazil and Australia living with us for periods of six months or more. I established friendships with these students and, in one case, even returned with the student to visit his family in Mexico. As a consequence of my parent's hosting these various foreign exchange students, I applied for a foreign exchange hosting. I was selected for the program and in 1975 left Bracebridge at the age of 17 to spend a year in Denmark. The experience was a formative one for me. I did not know the Danish language and knew nothing of Danish culture. However, I immersed myself in both. Within four months I was reasonably fluent in Danish and had made many Danish friends. By the end of my exchange year, I truly appreciated and understood that linguistic, cultural and political diversity is a richness. This appreciation continues to this day.
In the late 1970s, after the Vietnam War, my parents sponsored a family of "Vietnamese Boat People" by providing them with housing, food, employment and the essentials of life. This was another formative experience for me. I came to know these people who had suffered unendurable tragedy and watched as they struggled to integrate into Canadian life. Eventually, they were successful but with difficulty. The experience left me with an appreciation of the difficulties that new immigrants to Canada face.
I left Bracebridge at the age of 19 to attend university in Toronto, where I lived for 11 years. While attending university, and generally while living in Toronto, I had the opportunity to meet many Canadians of all racial, cultural and socio-economic backgrounds. These opportunities continued when I moved to Vancouver in 1991 with my spouse. Having lived in two richly diverse cities, I have established many very good friendships with individuals of different nationalities, races, cultures and backgrounds. These friendships give me some insight into the variety and diversity of Canadians.
3. Describe the appropriate role of a judge in a constitutional democracy.
I was tempted to review Political Science and Legal textbooks to answer this question but have decided instead to provide my own thoughts.
It is trite to say that the role of a judge is to dispense justice in accordance with the rule of law. In my view, this is a completely correct statement, but it is not complete. There are several principles that must be understood and applied to make this a workable proposition. These are, in my view: the primacy of the constitution; the rule of law; and, the independence of the judiciary.
A constitutional democracy is a form of government in which there exists a constitution, whether written or uncodified, that defines and delineates the powers of government and the rights of the citizens. A constitutional democracy is perhaps best understood when compared to an absolute monarchy. In an absolute monarchy, the monarch has unlimited power and can enact any laws without restraint. In contrast, in a constitutional democracy, legislative power is limited. Specifically, he powers of the legislative bodies are restrained by the constitution such that no legislative body can enact laws that are contrary to the constitution. Any laws passed by a government that are contrary to the constitution may be challenged in the courts and, if the challenge is upheld, are declared invalid or unenforceable. It is the role of a judge to perform this vital function. In doing so the judge upholds the primacy of the constitution, prevents overreaching by governments and protects the fundamental constitutional rights and freedoms of citizens.
The rule of law is a central concept in a constitutional democracy and applies to the adjudication of all legal disputes, not just constitutional disputes. There are two components to the rule of law. First, it stipulates that the law applies to every person/institute/organization in the society. No one is immune from the application of the rule of law. Thus, even the governments are subject to the rule of law. The second component of the rule of law is that it requires a judge to adjudicate disputes, or determine guilt or innocence, solely on the basis of and in accordance with the law. In other words, in making decisions a judge must not be influenced by the people or government before her/him and must not adjudicate disputes based on arbitrary or capricious factors. The rule of law ensures that the law is applied fairly and fully to everyone.
There is a weakness to a constitutional democracy in that the judiciary are often appointed by government. This gives rise to the possibility of a conflict of interest in the judiciary which, if it becomes a real conflict of interest, could undermine the ability of the judiciary to protect the primacy of the constitution or to fully and properly apply the rule of law to governments. To protect against this, a constitutional democracy provides for a separation between the legislative and judicial powers such that the judiciary is independent of and not beholden to the government when performing judicial functions. In a constitutional democracy the judiciary must be, and be seen to be, independent. A judge in a constitutional democracy must scrupulously maintain this independence and avoid any appearance of partiality or conflict of interest that might undermine public confidence in the system.
Within the Canadian context specifically, the constitutional role of a judge is essentially twofold. First, a judge must uphold the primacy of the constitution by protecting the rights of Canadian citizens, as enshrined in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, against an overreaching government. This is rightly seen by many as a vital and key role of a Canadian judge. Secondly, a Canadian judge must also protect the rights and powers of the different levels of government. Much of Canadian constitutional law involves disputes between the federal and provincial governments regarding which government has the power to legislate in relation to a particular subject matter. A role of the Canadian judiciary is again to resolve such disputes in accordance with the rule of law to protect the balance of powers set out in the Constitution and maintain Canadian federalism.
In conclusion, in my view, the role of a judge in a constitutional democracy is to uphold the primacy of the constitution and to adjudicate disputes by applying the rule of law. To effectively perform these roles the judge must be independent and impartial, must know and understand the law, must be able to apply the law in a logical fashion and must be able to communicate the results in a coherent form
4. Who is the audience for decisions rendered by the court(s) to which you are applying?
I have struggled with this question because, at first glance: (1) the answer seemed obvious; and (2) it was not clear to me whether the audience of a decision should make any difference. However, after reflecting on my answer below, I realize that it is useful to consider who the audience for a particular decision will be since the decision can, and should, be tailored to meet the needs of that audience. This, however, is always subject to the proviso that a tailored decision must fully address the evidence presented and arguments made and provide a clear and well-reasoned disposition of the case.
The simple answer to this question is that everyone is a member of the audience for the decisions rendered. I say this because (1) legal decisions become part of the law through the doctrine of stare decisis and, (2) every individual in a constitutional democracy has the right to know the law and therefore read the law. Thus, every individual in society is a potential audience member. However, as a practical matter, the actual audience will depend on the nature of the decision. The audience will vary and grow or contract depending upon the nature of the decision.
In civil cases before both the Supreme Court of British Columbia and the Federal Court, the immediate audience will be the litigants or persons before the court who are immediately and personally affected by the decision. In the British Columbia Supreme Court, which has a broad inherent jurisdiction, the litigants could be virtually any individual, corporation or government and will include, for example, personal injury and family law litigants, commercial and corporate litigants and the provincial and federal governments. In the Federal Court, which has a limited statutory jurisdiction, the range of litigants will be narrower and, for the most part, will be the federal government, federal boards and tribunals, persons involved with federal boards and tribunals (i.e. Immigrant claimants) intellectual property litigants and maritime law litigants.
Although I have little experience with family law, I expect that special considerations will apply for family law matters within the British Columbia Supreme Court where the persons affected by the decision include not only the litigants but the other family members. I would think that family law decisions should take into account these other family members and be tailored to minimize the exacerbating effects such a decision could have.
I similarly have little experience with criminal cases in the British Columbia Supreme Court where the immediate audience for decisions will be the prosecution, the accused. However, the victims and their families are certain to also have an interest in the decision, even though not represented in the proceeding. I would think that the decisions in criminal cases should take into account the fact that victims and/or their families will be a particularly interested audience.
Additional audience members, in any of the above cases, could be:
- the Court of Appeal, if an appeal is taken;
- other judges and lawyers who may view the decision as a potential precedent on a point of law;
- the federal or provincial governments in cases where the decision impacts a legislative power or otherwise affects a government's rights or interests;
- persons within the industry or wider community and special interest groups who are or may be directly or indirectly affected by the decision or who take a particular interest in subject matter of the decision; and
- the media and the public in general, in the case of a decision on a matter of public interest such as, for example, high profile accidents, particularly egregious alleged crimes, cases involving pollution of public lands and waters.
Regardless of the audience, in all cases, the decision must fully address the evidence presented and arguments made and must provide a clear and well-reasoned disposition of the case in accordance with the law.
5. Please describe the personal qualities, professional skills and abilities, and life experience that you believe will equip you for the role of a judge.
The personal qualities that equip me for the role of a judge are integrity, strong intellectual abilities, patience and courtesy, a strong work ethic and good administrative and interpersonal skills. I shall address each of these in turn.
- With respect to the first quality, integrity, this is a trait that every person should have and every judge must have. Integrity, for me, includes being honest and trustworthy and treating people fairly. These are characteristics which, I believe, have served me well in my practice of law. Although litigation is adversarial, and sometimes very hard fought, lawyers on the opposite side know that they can trust my word and that I will not take unfair advantage.
- Having strong intellectual abilities is a given for any judge. I believe that my resume and my written work over the years evidence that I have these abilities.
- Patience and courtesy are two qualities that I have and that I believe go together. One cannot be impatient yet courteous and nor can one be courteous yet impatient. I was lucky to have a very good mentor, when I first began the practice of law in Toronto, who taught me the value of patience and courtesy. Whenever I would go to him with a problem he would always stop whatever he was working on, sit back in his chair and hear me out. He would then calmly question me extracting more information and then help me to decide a way forward. He had the same approach when dealing with clients or other counsel. I learned from him that a good lawyer did not require one to be aggressive or overbearing. I have always tried emulating this mentor in my own practice, I believe with success.
- A strong work ethic is something I learned from a very young age. My family was not wealthy, and all of the 6 children had to work in the family movie theatre from the time they turned 12. I worked in the theatre on evenings and weekends throughout high school. Later, when attending university and law school, I worked all of every summer break. Since entering into the practice of law, I routinely work 10 to 12 hours per day. However, and although I have a strong work ethic, I do try to balance work with family life by avoiding working weekends whenever possible.
- My strong administrative and interpersonal skills are evidenced by the fact that I have been the managing partner of Giaschi & Margolis for the past 20 years, overseeing all aspects of the office management and my own practice.
Professional Skills and Abilities
In my view the professional skills and abilities that a judge needs, in addition to the personal qualities mentioned above, are a knowledge of the law, good legal analytical skills, good writing skills and the ability to meet tight schedules and deadlines. These are also the qualities that a good lawyer must have. I believe that the breadth of my legal experience and my legal writings referred to elsewhere in this application are ample evidence that I have these qualities.
In the past the past 29 years I have practiced before the British Columbia Supreme Court and Court of Appeal and the Federal Court and Federal Court of Appeal. There are at least 59 reported court decisions in which I have appeared as counsel. Of course, there were many other appearances before courts that did not result in a reported decision. I very roughly estimate that I have appeared as counsel before a court well over 250 times during the course of my career. In addition, I have conducted several private arbitrations and mediations that are, of course, not the subject of reported decisions.
That I have the professional skills and abilities needed to properly carry out the role of a judge is reflected in various awards and recognitions I have received over the years. These include:
- Honourary Life Member status from the Canadian Maritime Law Association;
- Titular Member status from the Comité Maritime International;
- Chambers & Partners ranking as a Band 1 (the highest level) lawyer in Shipping Law for the last several years including 2015-2017;
- Lexpert ranking as a most frequently recommended (the highest level) lawyer for Shipping and Maritime Law, for many years including 2015-2017;
- Best Lawyers as a Transportation-Shipping lawyer, again for many years, including 2015-2017; and
- Who's Who Legal as a Transportation-Shipping Lawyer, again for many years, including 2015-2017.
I am not certain of what life experiences a judge should have had or, indeed, if there any life experiences that can properly equip a person for the role of a judge. I grew up in a middle-class family but experienced some minor discrimination based on cultural background and religion. This has given me a sensitivity to and abhorrence of any type of discrimination. As a teenager I was actively involved in student exchange programs and I lived for a year as an exchange student in Denmark at that age of 17. This gave me an appreciation and respect for other cultures and backgrounds which I continue to nurture through extensive travel. Through my travels and my contacts with the "Vietnamese Boat People"(referenced elsewhere in this application), I have come to appreciate that the freedoms and rights we have enshrined in the Charter must not be taken for granted but must be constantly and consistently respected and vigorously defended.
6. Given the goal of ensuring that Canadians are able to look at the justices appointed to the bench and see their faces and life experience reflected there, you may, if you choose, provide information about yourself that you feel would assist in this objective.
The faces and life experiences of Canadians are varied, and no judge can hope to reflect all Canadians. In my case, my life experiences include:
- Growing up in a small rural community, playing ice hockey on ponds;
- Enduring mild discrimination on the basis of religion and culture;
- Making a poor decision as a teenager at the age of 16;
- Spending a year in Denmark at the age of 17 as an exchange student;
- Being the first person of an immigrant family to attend university;
- Paying my own way through university and law school, but with assistance of government loans;
- Marrying my university sweetheart who is a strong and intelligent woman with a very successful career as a researcher, Professor and academic;
- Living pay-cheque to pay-cheque for the first 10 years of my professional life to pay off student debt and then again living pay-cheque to pay-cheque to pay child care expenses and the mortgage on our first home in Vancouver;
- Working hard to provide the essentials of life but striving to maintain a proper balance between work and family life;
- Observing the financial ruin of family members and friends, in some cases due to macro-economic events but, in other cases, due to poor business or financial decisions;
- Being a parent and experiencing all of the joys, worries and fears of a parent;
- Suffering the loss of a parent;
- Observing the devastation caused by the disintegration of the marriages of family members and friends;
- Addressing the challenges of an aging parent;
- Observing family members struggle with drug and alcohol addiction and trying, without success, to help; and
- Observing the suffering and hurt caused to close friends and family because of sexual orientation discrimination.
Should I be appointed as a judge, none of the above will be immediately apparent to persons appearing before me but, what they will observe is that:
- I will listen to them fully and completely;
- I will treat them with courtesy and respect and will ensure that others treat them with the same courtesy and respect;
- I will not prejudge their case but will carefully and fully consider the evidence and arguments; and
- I will provide a reasoned decision based upon all of the evidence and the law and will do so promptly.
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