172 THE ADVOCATE
VOL. 79 PART 2 MARCH 2021
directions are designed to provide with dignity? As emphasized above and
as we emphasize again, we do not tolerate the possibility of harming anyone
or being exclusive rather than inclusive. But neither do we have an interest
in preventing people from discussing matters affecting them or their profession,
as long as they remain civil about it. One of the things all of us have
learned in being lawyers is to develop an argument and to develop a thick
skin. We are engaged constantly in the arts of persuasion, negotiation,
investigation and communication. One goal of those arts is to convince
another party with a different view to be moved to the better position. It is
not enough to claim “I’m right and you’re an idiot” in these pages.3 Lights
have been known to turn on when people have open minds, consider disparate
viewpoints and are presented positions in a convincing manner.
If arguments are not articulated in these pages, where can they be articulated?
We are all intelligent enough to know that we cannot possibly all
agree. But what do we do when some people have something they passionately
want to say and others believe deeply that the very saying of it is
wrong? Our society—Western democracy—for all of its warts and boils, purports
to value diversity. Surely that includes diversity of thought and
expression, which are at the core of our cherished Charter right to freedom
of speech. We do know that the fundamental right of free speech is not
absolute. Yet the Advocate is the very place that criticism and argument
should continue to thrive among people well equipped to do both and in a
manner that is not going to infringe on anyone else’s human rights. We are
not saying no one will get upset, or that everyone will remain comfortable.
Who ever said the practice of law was comfortable?
Is any criticism too much or unwarranted or, more importantly, unlawful?
Any criticism about steps that have strong proponents, whether court
directions or otherwise, is going to upset somebody, perhaps many bodies,
no matter what happens. Someone will be put out, angry, uncomfortable,
upset, perturbed or possibly irate. Either way, to the extent the Advocate
provides a forum for this, we will be seen to have “caved” to the wrong side;
damned if we do and damned if we do not. This is not the way we imagined
starting 2021. But here we are. A new year, some new court directions and
some brand new dilemmas. Where’s that Wine Column!
1. Be careful who you cc. The Advocate is rather like
Lord Varys from Game of Thrones: little birds everywhere.
“Storms come and go, the big fish eat the
little fish, and I keep on paddling.” (We realize we
are leaving ourselves wide open for other comparisons
to Lord Varys, by the way. Don’t be crude.)
2. Having avoided a human rights complaint, we are
now dealing with a letter sent to all the benchers for
3. James Hoggan, I’m Right and You’re an Idiot: The
Toxic State of Public Discourse and How to Clean
It Up, 2nd ed (Gabriola Island: New Society Publishers,