The Advocates’ Society
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Yola S. Ventresca, Lerners LLP
TAS Report: EOT@Home
Lyla Simon, Senior Enforcement Counsel,
Mutual Fund Dealers Association
The Justice System
William Thompson, Addario Law Group LLP
Tamara Ramsey, Dale & Lessmann LLP
Journal Review: Then and Now
Christine Vanderschoot, Vanderschoot Family Law PC
Interview with Owen Rees
Compiled by Andrew Gibbs, Department of Justice
In Conversation with Dominique Hussey
Compiled by Melanie Baird, Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP
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Editor: Tamara Ramsey, Dale & Lessmann LLP (Editor)
The opinions expressed by individual authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Advocates’ Society.
Advocacy Matters Editorial Team: Andrew Gibbs, Department of Justice, Christine J. Vanderschoot, Vanderschoot Family Law, Megan Keenberg,
Van Kralingen & Keenberg LLP, Daniel Baum, Langlois Avocats, S.E.N.C.R.L., Ayesha Laldin, Department of Justice, Michelle Alton, Workplace Safety
and Insurance Appeals Tribunal
Yola S. Ventresca, Lerners LLP
As I sit down to write my first column as Chair
of the 10+ Standing Committee, much is on
my mind, much is weighing me down. World
events of the past six months have changed so
much of life as we knew it in real and substantive
ways; the legal profession has not been
spared. I could go on at lengths about how
this so-called ‘new normal’ has thrown the profession
head first into a technological revolution
or about how the pandemic has seriously
strained working parents. I will save those ruminations
for another day.
Instead, I want to talk about another issue
that is front-of-mind and in the headlines: the
remarkable flourishing of the Black Lives Matter
anti-racism protest movement, sparked by
the brutal murder of George Floyd Jr., a Black
American killed by the police after his arrest
in Minneapolis in May 2020.
While it may be convenient for some to dismiss
what is going on as a uniquely American
“problem”, we in this country should not deceive
ourselves. It is not simply ‘their’ problem.
Canada, too, has an ugly history of anti-Black
racism, one that continues to haunt us to this
day. It is trite to say that systemic racism permeates
all facets of society. The legal profession is
It has been almost three years since the
Globe & Mail published Hadiya Rodrique’s autobiographical
essay, Black on Bay Street: Hadiya
Rodrique had it all. But still could not fit in.
In that essay, Rodrique outlines her trajectory;
her childhood, her experiences as a black student
and a top candidate in the ultra-competitive
Toronto recruit. It would seem the closer
Rodrique came to the ‘summit’ of our profession,
as she puts it, the more marginalized she
was made to feel. Rodrique ultimately left Bay
Street for academia.
Rodrique’s essay garnered much attention.
It provoked a myriad of promises from all corners
of the profession to do better; to be better.
Yet for all these promises, it appears from
the limited data available, we are not much further
along, if at all. In a recent essay about Black
lawyers, the Globe & Mail presented the results
of its own study of sixteen of Toronto’s largest
law firms. Of the 4,000 partners identified, just
35 were Black. What this tells us is that of Black
lawyers, a miniscule percentage are partners in
firms. Most, it would seem, have to forge their
own path as sole practitioners.
All of this leads me back to a question that
has been nagging me and many others. What
can I do? In many ways, I have not yet fully answered
my own question. I do know that I want
to use this inaugural post to commit to working
toward greater equity in the legal profession. I
want to use this privileged forum to do my part,
however modest, to move our profession closer
to its stated commitments to do better. The 10+
Standing Committee represents mid-career lawyers
across Canada. We are the future leaders of
the profession and members of the bench. So
I would like to extend an invitation: we want to
hear and to amplify the voice of racialized lawyers.
If you have ideas for an article, for a TAS
event, for professional development, please
let us know. My DMs are open (@YolaVentresca).
For now, please know that this issue is an
urgent priority for us. And we are not going to
stop talking about it.
Finally, I want to say how grateful I am for the
opportunity to Chair this Committee. I have big
shoes to fill, taking over the reins from the formidable
Hilary Book of Book Law. I am grateful
to have two powerhouse co-executive members
in Emily Lawrence and Chloe Snider. And fortunate,
also, to have an incredible team at Advocacy
Matters led by Tamara Ramsey. I also want to
thank all of those who contributed to make this
instalment of Advocacy Matters a success. Inside
you will find a great recap of #EOT2020 by Lyla
Simon, Christine Vanderschoot’s article about
the changes to the rules in regard to summary
judgment in the past twenty years and excellent
conversations with Owen Rees (Department of
Justice) compiled by Andrew Gibbs and of Dominique
Hussey (Bennett Jones LLP) compiled by
Melanie Baird. Tamara Ramsey’s quirky case
column brings some much needed levity. Finally,
in the spirit of the comments in this column,
you will find an important profile of TAS Board
Member Faisal Mirza and the Sentencing & Parole
Project he co-founded: a hopeful and inspiring
I look forward to a productive and meaningful
term ahead. Stay tuned for updates about
our incredible lineup of events. In the meantime,
I wish you and your families a safe and
Celebrate & Connect
at EOT@Home 2020
Lyla Simon, Senior Enforcement Counsel,
Mutual Fund Dealers Association
On June 11, 2020, The Advocates Society hosted an incredibly successful annual End of Term Dinner.
Due to the ongoing pandemic,“EOT@Home2020” was broadcast online. Leading up to the
“Dinner”, TAS members were encouraged to get creative with their party attire and menu options.
Many took this to heart, and there was everything on display – from jeans, loungewear, and athleisure,
to gowns, pearls, and tuxedos.
The evening began with an uplifting performance from TAS’s very own six member coast-tocoast
EOT band, the “Forces Majeures”, followed by “Oh Canada” performed by the National Arts
The Rt. Hon. Richard Wagner, Chief Justice of Canada offered greetings wherein he applauded
TAS for keeping the EOT Dinner tradition alive during these challenging times, and observed
that these types of connections and celebrations are more important now than ever. The Hon.
David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney
General of Canada, applauded TAS’s strong resolve
and collaboration in protecting a fair and
accessible justice system, and he commended
the decision to donate the EOT Dinner proceeds
to Pro Bono Canada.
The highlight of the evening was TAS President
Guy J. Pratte’s conversation with the Hon. Justice
Rosalie S. Abella. In introducing Justice Abella,
President Pratte reminded us of the importance
of collegiality, encouraged members to tackle
and eliminate systemic racial inequality, and
emphasized the tradition of in-person advocacy.
Justice Abella inspired and motivated the guests
with her words and candidly discussed a variety
of topics. She shared that she first decided to become
a lawyer when her father was denied the
right to practise law in Canada when her family
immigrated here from Europe because he was
not a citizen. Justice Abella shared her passion
for the legal profession, the early years of her career,
and how saying “yes” to many varied and
unconventional opportunities allowed her to experience
the profession at its deepest and most
rewarding. Justice Abella offered her views on
the difficulties presented by the pandemic, her
love of reading and music, and her career-long
focus and interest in equity and equality as a
member of the judiciary. “Law changes behavior
and changed behavior changes attitudes”. As a
thank you, Jessica Linnebach and Yosuke Kawasaki
of the NAC Orchestra played Leclair: Sonata
for 2 violins Gavotte (Andante grazioso) dedicated
to Justice Abella, which the Supreme Court
Justice appeared to love.
After the ’chat’, guests were encouraged to
socialize casually in virtual networking rooms
or lounges. The rooms were seamlessly managed
by TAS staff, and there were some great
connections between friends and colleagues.
Among other things, I spotted an adorable dog
in a bowtie, many adventurous cats climbing
on their owners, a fanciful bubble machine,
impressive backyard chickens, a significant collection
of movies on VHS, and some beautifully
EOT@Home2020 was a great triumph. Thanks
again to sponsors MNP LLP, Omni Bridgeway
and RSM Canada for supporting EOT@
Home2020. Cheers to all who were able to attend,
and here’s hoping we can break bread in
person at End of Term Dinner 2021.
Faisal Mizra, Mirza Kwok
Tom Curry and Martha McCarthy Present:
On Oral Advocacy:
Viewing & Listening
Wednesday, September 23, 2020
12:00 pm - 1:30 pm ET
TAS Members: $25 + HST
Non Members: $50 + HST
Join Tom Curry and Martha McCarthy as they
celebrate their love of the profession while
discussing essential reading, viewing and
listening for advocates. If you are a perennial
student of the law, constantly craving good
content on strong oral advocacy skills, this
live webcast is for you.
The program will conclude with a Q&A session,
during which our speakers will respond to live
questions from the online audience.
To learn more or register visit
THE JUSTICE SYSTEM
Advocacy Matters Profile:
Faisal Mizra and
the Sentencing &
William Thompson, Addario Law Group LLP
In May 2020, the Sentencing and Parole Project (“SPP”) began providing reports describing how
systemic racism has impacted the lives of Black people in Ontario for use in the criminal justice
system. These Enhanced Pre-sentence Reports are meant to provide sentencing judges and other
decision-makers with in-depth background information about the defendant’s life that is connected
to a broader understanding of systemic racism’s hand in bringing the person before the Court.
Faisal Mizra, a criminal lawyer and Advocates’ Society board member is one of three co-founders
of the project. The other two founders are criminal lawyer Emily Lam and human rights lawyer
Anthony Morgan. Mirza and his co-founders believe educating judges and counsel about systemic
acism will improve sentencing decisions and
ultimately reduce the over-incarceration of racialized
people in Ontario.
Mirza, a well-respected Toronto-area lawyer,
has almost 20 years of experience as a criminal
trial and appellate lawyer. He opened his own
firm shortly after he finished articling at Greenspan
Humphrey Lavine. Mirza chose to base his
practice in Peel Region after recognizing that
it was an underserviced and rapidly changing
community. He noticed that the people before
the Court were predominantly racialized, but
the bench and Bar were not. He sought to draw
on his own experience to assist a community
that he knew well.
Mirza, Lam and Morgan donate their time spent
running the project. They received a Law Foundation
of Ontario grant to fund the social workers
with specialized anti-racism training who
interview clients, collect information and write
the reports. The Law Foundation also provides
funding for two professors, Dr. Carl James and
Dr. Akwasi Owusu-Bempah, to collect and analyze
data from the project. The academics’ goal is
to use the data generated by the project to identify
ways to improve outcomes and reduce racial
disparities within the criminal justice system.
The project is based on a shared commitment
of its co-founders to educate the justice system
about systemic racism and promote the imposition
of just sentences, and was inspired by a
pair of 2018 cases on which Mirza was co-counsel:
R. v. Jackson and R. v. Morris. Both cases
were decided by Superior Court Justice Shaun
Nakatsuru and both involved young Black men
found guilty of illegally possessing guns. Justice
Nakatsuru sentenced Jackson to 6 years in jail
and Morris to 15 months in jail; both sentences
were substantially lower than what was sought
by the Crown. In explaining his reasons for the
sentences, Justice Nakatsuru made extensive
reference to Impact of Race and Culture Assessment
(“IRCA”) reports describing the history of
anti-Black racism and systemic racism in Canada
and how the defendants’ lives were affected
by racism. IRCA reports are the forerunners to
the SPP’s Enhanced Pre-sentence Reports. They
have been used for several years in courts in
Nova Scotia, primarily to educate judges about
the racism and injustice endured by that province’s
historical Black communities.
In Jackson, Justice Nakatsuru explained the
value he saw in the information contained in
the IRCA reports, “[s]entencing is about judging
a fellow human being. The more a sentencing
judge truly knows about the offender, the more
exact and proportionate the sentence can be.
Sometimes it should include a broad swath of
relevant historical, social, and cultural knowledge.
An IRCA gives the judge an opportunity to
learn about how this relates to the offender. A
sentence imposed based upon a complex and
in-depth knowledge of the person before the
court, as they are situated in the past and present
reality of their lived experience, will look
very different from a sentence imposed upon a
cardboard cut-out of an “offender”.”
The content of the SPP reports varies according
to the nature of the case and the history of
the defendant. The reports often contain evidence
that support a link between the individual
defendant’s personal history and the broader
body of research on how racially biased policies
and historical injustices have harmed Black
people. One example is the disproportionate
impact that Ontario’s academic streaming system
in secondary schools had on the educational
outcomes of racialized children.
While the SPP project is relatively new, Mirza
estimates that they have already worked on
about 20 cases. He points to, as an example of
the project’s work, a recent Brampton Superior
Court sentencing decision in R. v. Kandhai. In
that decision, Justice David Harris noted that
“one’s head would have to be in the sand not
to acknowledge that Mr. Kandhai’s responsibility
is affected in some measure by the racism
and poverty in the community in which
he grew up.” The trial judge said that he gave
significant weight to the effect of that history
on Mr. Kandhai as described in the Enhanced
Pre-sentence Report in determining that 49
months in jail was a fit sentence.
Lam says that the value of these reports is
not only in their direct effect on the length of
the sentence, but also the message they send
to marginalized people that their experience is
being paid attention by judges.
Mirza credits the project’s success so far to
a combination of factors that speak to the justice
system’s increasing embrace of the value of
diversity. Mirza is proud that collaboration between
racialized social workers, academics, and
counsel has produced both quality reports and
advocacy. Likewise, diversity in the judiciary has
contributed to acceptance of the impact of racism.
After working in the areas of sentencing
reform and systemic racism for the past twenty
years with mixed results, Mirza hopes that we
are at a turning point. He believes that mandating
education in this area for current judges together
with increased diversity in the judiciary
will facilitate long-term progress. Ultimately,
advancing these objectives may improve the
perception of the administration of justice for
Black, racialized and Indigenous communities.
SECTION QUIRKY CASES
Toys, Herbs & Goodwill:
Toys “R” Us (Canada) Ltd. v.
Herbs “R” Us Wellness Society
Tamara Ramsey, Dale & Lessmann LLP
This column features a case that is interesting because of its quirkiness. This can include unusual
facts, a novel legal issue, or something else that makes it quirky.
Toys “R” Us (Canada) Ltd. v. Herbs “R” Us Wellness Society, 2020 FC 682 involved a HERBS “R” US design
mark that shared many of the striking and unique elements the TOYS “R” US design mark. It is
quirky not just because it features an assessment of the likelihood of confusion between toys and
herbs (cannabis), but also because it grants injunctive relief for depreciation of goodwill despite
finding there was no likelihood of confusion between the marks at issue. To add to the quirkiness,
this case addresses a preliminary evidentiary
point regarding the admissibility of affidavit evidence
from a lawyer at the firm representing
The firm representing Toys “R” Us (Canada)
Ltd. (“Toys “R” Us”) tendered an affidavit from
an associate lawyer who visited the retail location
for Herbs “R” Us Wellness Society (“Herbs
“R” Us”) that provided the lawyer’s subjective impression
of the interior of the store, describing
it as “an unimpressive, lower-end retail operation.”
Justice McHaffie raised an issue regarding
the applicant’s reliance on the lawyer’s affidavit.
Evidence from employees or lawyers of the law
firm acting for a party should not be given on
matters of substance, particularly matters that
go to the heart of the issues and matters that
are controversial. Fortunately for the applicant,
there were sufficient non-controversial facts in
the lawyer’s affidavit and sufficient facts in the
client’s affidavit to prove the nature and use of
signage containing the HERBS “R” US mark after
much of the lawyer’s affidavit was disregarded
by Justice McHaffie.
Both the TOYS “R” US and HERBS “R” US marks
feature a backwards “R” and similar stylized
fonts. Justice McHaffie held that “the overall impression
of the two marks is very similar,” but
held that there was no trademark infringement.
Having regard to all of the circumstances to be
considered as part of the test for confusion, the
two trademarks were not confusing because
the goods, services and business of Herbs “R”
Us are fundamentally dissimilar to those of Toys
“R” Us. The TOYS “R” US marks are associated
with “product lines that are light years away
from the product being sold by Herbs “R” Us.”
The analysis did not end with the dismissal of the
claim for trademark infringement. Section 22 of the
Trademarks Act provides a cause of action for depreciation
of the goodwill attached to a registered
trademark where (1) the respondent is using a
mark that is sufficiently similar to the registered
trademark to evoke a mental association of the
two marks, (2) the registered trademark is sufficiently
well known to have significant goodwill,
(3) the respondent’s mark has been used in a
manner likely to have an effect on that goodwill,
and (4) the likely effect would be to depreciate
its goodwill. Toys “R” Us established each
of those four elements.
The strong resemblance between HERBS “R”
US and TOYS “R” US was held to be sufficient
to evoke a mental association between the
marks. The TOYS “R” US mark was sufficiently
well known in Canada to have significant goodwill
associated with it. The court concluded that
it could infer the existence of a linkage in the
mind of a consumer from the marked similarities
between the marks combined with the evidence
of extensive use, sales, and advertising
associated with the TOYS “R” US mark.
With respect to depreciation, the courts have
recognized that it can come through disparagement,
from the reduction of distinctiveness
resulting from a mark being “bandied about
by different users,” through the blurring of
brand images, or from a “whittling away” of
the brand’s power to distinguish the owner’s
products. Justice McHaffie concluded that the
use of the HERBS “R” US trademark amounted
to “another trader ‘bandying the mark about’
in a fashion that reduces the distinctiveness”
of the TOYS “R” US mark, and “’whittles away’
at the brand’s power to distinguish Toys “R”
Us’ products.” The creation of an association
between a cannabis dispensary and the Toys
“R” Us brand was likely to “tarnish the goodwill
associated” with the TOYS “R” US trademark.
Further, “there was no reason for Herbs “R” Us
to adopt and use the HERBS “R” US trademark
other than to trade off the goodwill and reputation
established by Toys “R” Us, and that this
points to a finding of depreciation.”
The court granted an injunction against the
use of the HERBS “R” US trademark in any form
and delivery up or destruction of goods, packaging
and advertising material that bears the
HERBS “R” US trademark in any form. The court
assessed nominal damages of $15,000.
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A joint presentation with the
Law Society of Ontario.
Fall Forum 2020:
Friday, October 23, 2020
2:00 pm - 5:30 pm ET
TAS Members: $50 + HST
Non Members: $99 + HST
Our destination may have changed but the
heart of Fall Forum remains the same. The
Advocates’ Society, in conjunction with the
Young Advocates’ Standing Committee, is
pleased to present this one-of-a-kind event
for lawyers in their first ten years of practice.
Join YASC members from across the country
to explore issues that are relevant to you.
To learn more or register visit
JOURNAL REVIEW: THEN AND NOW
TAS Looking Back:
in 2000 and 2020
Vanderschoot Family Law PC
In the 2000 Autumn Issue of The Advocates’ Journal, Professor Gary D. Watson, Q.C. of Osgoode
Hall Law School and Blake, Cassels & Graydon wrote about recent developments in summary
judgment. As readers of Advocacy Matters know, my column is about looking back to older articles
from the Journal and providing commentary as to how the topics may have changed over time. In
this situation, there is much to say given the significant developments in both civil and family law
summary judgment rules and practices.
Civil litigators in Ontario will be familiar with Rule 20 from the Rules of Civil Procedure, just as
Ontario’s family law practitioners look to Rule
16 of the Family Law Rules. Watson cites “recent”
1998 and 1999 cases that brought the utility of
Rule 20 into question for some, as these cases
highlighted the tension inherent in summary
judgment: does the Rule deny parties the full extent
of due process by disposing of some cases
early on in the process, or is the Rule beneficial
in weeding out meritless cases early on, thus
saving court time and saving parties’ resources?
In addition to the historic tension between the
trial as the paradigm of due process and the
move toward a cleaner and faster process, Watson
points out that judges were divided as to
the efficacy of the summary judgment motion
as well. Watson cites Borins J.’s opinion, when
he sat on the Court of Appeal, that motions
judges simply did not have the full evidence
before them to dismiss a case 1 . Borins J. clearly
saw the summary judgment motion as a denial
of procedural fairness. In contrast, O’Brien J.,
sitting as a motions court judge, granted summary
judgment in Guarantee Co. of North America
v. Gordon Capital Corp. (1999) 2 . While O’Brien
J.’s was not the last word on that case, the Supreme
Court ultimately agreed with his ruling
on the motion and found that the case could be
disposed of by way of summary judgment; even
though Guarantee conceded it had breached its
contract with Gordon Capital Corp., Guarantee
successfully hung its hat on the fact of Gordon
Capital missing the limitation period to sue. This
was a perfect example of how a summary judgment
motion could remove matters improperly
before the court, if the facts were right. But in
other matters where there were no clear limitation
period issues, the defence were not being
granted summary judgment and the overall judicial
approach seemed to be that due process
demanded a trial.
Watson could not have known in the autumn
of 2000 that there would be a significant overhaul
of Rule 20 of Ontario’s Rules of Civil Procedure
in 2010 and Rule 16 of Ontario’s Family Law
Rules in 2015. Prior to these changes, judges
were restricted to granting summary judgment
only if they could find that “there was no genuine
issue for trial”. Creative counsel could almost
always find some issue that could be characterized
as a “genuine” issue, and so most summary
judgment motions failed. To add insult to injury,
a failed motion for summary judgment would
almost always be accompanied by a hefty costs
award against the moving party on a substantial
indemnity basis. When Rule 20 was changed, it
represented a broadening of the legal test so
that a judge had to find that “there was no genuine
issue requiring a trial” and broadening the
powers of judges on summary judgment to hear
oral evidence, make determinations of credibility,
and draw inferences from the evidence.
In Hryniak v. Mauldin 3 in 2014, the SCC gave
guidance on the interpretation and application
of the new Rule 20 that had policy implications
beyond the Ontario Rule. The SCC addressed
the tension inherent in summary judgment by
coming down on the side of increasing access to
justice by focusing on proportionality. Interpreting
the court’s power to grant summary judgment
broadly rather than narrowly is intended
to permit greater access to the timely resolution
of claims. The SCC directed courts to focus on
the needs of particular cases rather than applying
the same process to all situations. That trend
continues today as courts funnel cases to procedures
that may lead to resolution in a more timely
manner than a trial. Conferencing, mandatory
settlement appearances and on-site mediation
opportunities in many courts have grown out of
the access to justice imperative as well.
Though Watson does not specifically mention
Rule 16 of the Family Law Rules, it is interesting
to note that in the family law context, where the
same tensions existed, there has also been a
move toward broadening Rule 16 such that appropriate
cases are dealt with earlier and do not
need to wind their way through the family court
process to trial. Access to justice is a major issue
in the family court system, and the recent move
to align Rule 16 with Rule 20 has made summary
judgment motions far more common in family
court. In family courts, summary judgment
motions have become much more user-friendly.
Where appropriate these motions are valuable in
serving access to justice principles by making the
legal process less expensive and much shorter.
Professor Watson’s article highlights the inconsistent
application of summary judgment
motions and their appeals in and around the
late 1990s, with the majority of appeals being
dismissed compared to other civil appeals,
such that it appeared a very risky proposition
for counsel to advise clients to seek that relief.
Today, due to both rule changes in civil and
family law, and due to the application of those
rules by the judiciary, summary judgments are
far more common now and if the facts support
it, far more often successful than when Professor
Watson’s article was written.
1. Aguonie v. Galion Solid Waste Material Inc. (1998), 38 O..R. (3d) 161 (C.A.)
2. 178 D.L.R. (4th)
3.  SCC 7
Q. Describe your role as DADAG?
A. I help with strategic management of
litigation on behalf of the Federal Government
and support the ADAG in her
role as chief legal advisor for litigation.
Q. What drives you up the wall?
A. Bureaucracy [Editor’s note: spot the irony]
Interview with Owen Rees:
Great guy, long title
Compiled by Andrew Gibbs,
Department of Justice
In the middle of a pandemic, somewhere between the end of the workday and his kids’ bedtime
routine, Advocacy Matters caught up with Owen Rees, in his latest incarnation – Deputy Assistant
Deputy Attorney General, Justice Canada.
Q. How would you describe your career path?
A. A series of fortunate events, with a public law theme.
• Academic phase – grad school, University of Oxford; teaching part-time for 6-7 years
• Private practice – Stockwoods, Toronto. Formative years in litigation. Tremendous mentors
Brian Gover, Paul Le Vay and Scott Hutchison.
• Executive Legal Officer to Chief Justice McLachlin – Dream opportunity. Fascinating files.
Worked with all the judges on some amazing appeals. Involved in the education arm (National
Judicial Institute) and the discipline arm (Canadian Judicial Council) of the judicial system
• Private practice – Ottawa 2016-2018, including amicus curiae on national security files.
• Joined the DOJ in 2018 as senior general counsel.
Q. Advocacy achievements/awards?
• Co-founder of Supreme Advocacy Institute, 2006. Fellow former SCC clerk, Grégoire Webber,
retired Justice Frank Iacobucci and I established the Institute to provide free assistance
to counsel appearing before the SCC. All counsel can confidentially moot their arguments
before a high-caliber panel of advocates, to prepare for the big day. It was our way of giving
back to the Court and the broader legal community. (Editor’s note: Owen and Grégoire were
awarded the Governor General’s Meritorious Service Medal for improving access to justice).
• Counsel for the Canadian Public Health Association, Canada’s oldest NGO for public health,
as Intervener in Canada (Attorney General) v PHS Community Services Society (“Insite”). The Insite
case dealt with safe injection sites in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side and continues to
have a practical impact in the area of public health today. (Editor’s note: the CHPA awarded
Owen and colleagues at Stockwoods the 2012 National Public Health Hero Award for making
a positive difference in public health at a national level).
Q. Work-life balance – How’s it going?
A. Not very well at the moment. The balance
is a bit out of whack. I try to protect
as much time in my day as possible for
family. Our children are small. My spouse
and I both work full time, so the pandemic
has been a challenge.
Q. Best career development tip?
A. Be open to new opportunities; go beyond
your comfort zone.
Q. Favourite genre of
A. For the moment: Jazz. Miles Davis.
Q. Fiction or non-fiction?
A. If forced to choose: fiction.
3e Gala annuel
Thursday, September 24, 2020
6:00 pm - 6:45 pm ET
En Ligne, Heure de L’Est Montreal
Membres : 25.00 $ (plus taxes)
Non-membres : 50.00 $ (plus taxes)
Q. Last book you read?
A. The third book in the Hilary Mantel trilogy about Thomas Cromwell—The Mirror & the Light.
Comme il est impossible de nous réunir en personne
pour l’instant, nous espérons que vous vous joindrez
à nous en ligne pour cette édition spéciale en mode
virtuel de notre célébration annuelle des plaideurs
du Barreau de Montréal.
Activités prévues lors de ce gala :
Q. Best time management tip?
A. Block time for thinking. Don’t just go from meeting to meeting. Multi-tasking is a MYTH. Cognitive
science has proved humans are not able to do it. Focused work means turning off e-mail and
forwarding calls. Whether writing legal submissions, prepping cross-exams or thinking through a
difficult client problem.
Q. Pre-game rituals before court?
A. I sketch out my argument on green barrister paper with my favourite pen. A one-page roadmap
of key points I want to advance to the Court. Often I just have my road map and my factum as a
backup (but not for reading). Key is to boil it down and engage the court in a conversation.
Une causerie informelle avec l’honorable Manon
Savard, juge en chef de la Cour d’appel du Québec,
et Me Guy J. Pratte, président de la Société des
La remise du prix Excellence en mentorat – Québec
Une réunion festive « After-Party » virtuelle où vous
pourrez échanger par vidéo avec vos collègues dans
la plateforme Zoom
Pour en savoir plus et s’inscrire, visitez notre site
web à www.advocates.ca
Commandité par :
Pre-2020, Dominique Hussey was the leader of the Intellectual Property Litigation group at Bennett
Jones LLP, the co-head of the firm’s Innovation, Technology and Branding group, and was finishing a
four year stint as lead director of the Bennett Jones partnership board. She was an active member
of TAS, co-chair of the Canadian Bar Association (IP Section), and an active participant in numerous
other professional organizations. Dominique is highly recognized in virtually every legal directory for
her litigation prowess. Oh, and she is the proud mom of two phenomenal young humans.
Cue 2020, which, never one to shy away from a challenge, Dominique welcomed with the professional
equivalent of “hold my beer”. Amidst a global pandemic, Dominique is now Vice Chair and
Toronto Managing Partner at Bennett Jones (the first woman and first Black person to ever hold
that role). She continues to act as the leader of the IP Litigation Group and the co-head of Innovation,
Technology and Branding group. She was selected to join the TAS Executive Committee.
In one of her first external facing acts as Vice Chair and Toronto Managing Partner, Dominique
spearheaded Bennett Jones signing the BlackNorth Initiative Law Firm Pledge, which commits her
firm to specific actions and targets designed to end anti-Black systemic racism and create opportunities
for those in underrepresented Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC) communities.
She was also recognized as the Outstanding Practitioner in Patent Law by Managing IP in
their Americas Awards 2020.
This interview explores the delightful and totally inspiring chaos that is Dominique’s current reality.
IN CONVERSATION WITH
Zoom In: A Discussion
with Dominique Hussey
Compiled by Melanie Baird,
Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP
Q. What have been the best and worst parts of taking on the role of Managing Partner?
A. I officially became Managing Partner on March 31, so I have only held the role during COVID-19.
Still, it has mostly been extremely positive.
The best part has been seeing how quickly and effectively our teams have pulled together. As a
result of the exceptional planning by our Chief Administrative Officer and our HR and IT teams, our
1000 members were up and running remotely almost immediately. Our teams were working around
the clock to keep things running smoothly and it has been absolutely, spectacularly successful.
Regular check-ins have been organized at every level of the business to make sure no one has felt
disconnected, although we have all been apart. We have onboarded and integrated new employees
including a class of summer students. Our HR and PD teams have found ways to do that effectively
and with a personal touch. It has been great to watch how people step up to help each other in
tough situations. Many of us feel even closer to each other than we did pre-COVID-19.
During this time, of course, difficult social issues involving race have come to the fore. They
obviously surfaced from a very negative place but there has been so much positive change and
discussion as a result—among clients, at law firms, at TAS, at home, on social media—that being
involved in a position of management during this time has been very rewarding.
The worst parts have been inherent uncertainties, and the pessimistic outlook and thought
processes that need to accompany planning for worst-case scenarios. And extreme Zoom fatigue,
brought on by trying to stay in touch with members of the firm, colleagues at other firms, clients,
family and friends. But a lot of the best parts have arisen from what could have been the worst.
A crisis can really bring out the best in an organization and its people.
Q. Why did Bennett Jones decide to sign the BlackNorth Initiative?
A. There has never been an initiative of its kind. The BlackNorth Initiative has real momentum
and commitment behind it and has the support of a number of prominent companies and firms
that will hold each other accountable. Associating with the initiative will unify and amplify the
ongoing efforts of individual organizations. It will take a lot of work, coordination and advocacy,
but I believe BNI is set up for success. The pledge Bennett Jones signed requires that we commit
to meeting, on a 5 and 10 year trajectory, certain targets to be filled by Black and other BIPOC
individuals. These positions include board positions, leadership positions, associate and student
positions, etc. The targets were not what interested me. The numbers will fluctuate, but without
having a target in mind, we have been meeting and beating those numbers for years. I was more
interested in other aspects of the pledge, which included an acknowledgement of anti-Black racism,
a need to approach diversity and inclusion holistically, a commitment to increase efforts to make
the workplace a welcoming place to have difficult conversations, a requirement that we share
best practices and unsuccessful practices with other firms, and a commitment to use resources
to work with members of the Black community. As Wes Hall put it, signing the pledge signalled
commitment internally and externally to lead by example. Only about two hours elapsed between
the time I brought the pledge to our CEO’s attention and the firm’s national commitment.
Q. It is early, but any plans you can share yet as to how Bennett Jones plans to tackle the issue?
A. Plans are in progress. We are reviewing what efforts have been most effective for us to date and
areas in which we could and should improve. We are communicating our efforts more regularly
throughout the firm to increase awareness of the issues and of our efforts and practices. We are
openly and regularly having conversations on the Board, throughout management, with partners,
associates, our professional development team and our administrative team and brainstorming
on ways to work with Black communities. Having open discussions makes having conversations
that could otherwise be uncomfortable become commonplace—and feel safer for all.
Q: When, and why, did you get involved with TAS?
I have been a member of The Advocates’ Society since 2006. My litigation career started in Ottawa
and continued in New York until I returned to Canada in 2005. The Advocates’ Society was very
important to my development as an effective litigator and for me to develop a network of litigators
because I was effectively new on the scene in Toronto. I originally became involved because Barb
Murchie, a partner at the firm and a past recipient of The Advocates’ Society Award for Excellence
in Teaching, encouraged me to get involved at a level beyond simply holding a membership. She
cast me in the role of the judge in the Court House Series videos she directed, insisting that having
a Black judge was a good image for people to get used to. I played the role for 13 years and have
avoided seeing the result for fear that I would never do it again. [Editor’s note: she is fantastic!]
Barb also encouraged me to take the Train the Trainer course and teach regularly at TAS educational
programs. I enjoyed teaching, and found I learned a lot from the experience. Eventually, two
TAS past presidents—Jeff Leon and Mike Eizenga—put me forward as a candidate for
the TAS Board of Directors. I joined the Board, and the rest is history!
Q. What are you most looking forward to in joining the TAS Executive Committee?
A. I have officially been on the Executive Committee since June, but participated in the weekly
meetings for several months before then. I now have a true sense of the amount of work the EC
does, and how exceptionally committed its members, CEO Vicki White, and the TAS staff really
are. It is mind blowing. I look forward to contributing sweat equity, and hope that I can provide a
different and useful perspective to the immense body of important work this Society does. I am
looking forward to working with TAS staff, the board, its standing committees, task forces and its
members, to help to steer TAS through our rapidly changing environment. I would like for TAS to
emerge as an increasingly diverse, inclusive, dynamic, adaptable, productive and respected society
Q. What is your best tip for parenting kids while working from home?
A. I mean, it’s not like they are clients, right? Tell them you don’t want to hear from them during
working hours, they can get by on their own, and you don’t have time to argue! I really have no
good advice. Every day is different and everyone’s situation is different. None of it is easy. We all
just have to do our best to carve out space and time to work effectively while maximizing the quality
time we have with our children. In our case, we always try to remember to feed them. We tell
them that we love them and understand isolation is especially hard on them; and try to convince
them that screens can never replace real human interaction. Between Zoom calls.
#DidYouKnow that TAS Members can
post their job opportunities on our
Career Board for free? That’s right,
free! Check out our Career Board
page for the easy steps to get your
next job opening posted with us.
Visit the Career Board
Thursday, June 11, 2020 | Live Online
Sabrina A. Lucenti, Dooley Lucenti LLP
Brian Gover, Stockwoods LLP
Brent J. Arnold, Gowling WLG (Canada) LLP
Yashoda R.’s dinner!
Lonny J. Rosen, C.S., Rosen Sunshine LLP
Jill R. Presser, Presser Barristers
The Hon. Justice Rosalie S. Abella, Supreme Court of Canada
Privilege: A Litigator’s Guide
Tuesday, June 16, 2020 | Live Online
What were the Lawyer Tech Challenges in 2002? The Internet! #TBT to a flier from 2002 for some
trend-setting TAS CLE developed to help lawyers move from paper and snail mail to ‘the net’. If we
made it through that era, we can get through this! #oldschoolTAScle #HowFarWeveCome
Dominique T. Hussey, Bennett Jones LLP
Megan E. Shortreed, Paliare Roland Rosenberg Rothstein LLP
Introduction to Thomson Reuters - CaseLines
Thursday, August 13, 2020 | Live Online
Hilary Book, Book Law
The Honourable Justice Kristine M. Eidsvik,
Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta
Mohan D. Sharma, Superior Court of Justice
Alexey Togunov, Ministry of the Attorney General
The Honourable Chief Justice Geoffrey B. Morawetz,
Superior Court of Justice
Brent J. Arnold, Gowling WLG (Canada) LLP
David Jackson, Thomson Reuters