Wednesday, April 25, 2018 - Filed in: General Interest
Difficult people defy logic. Some are blissfully unaware of the negative impact that they have on those around them, and others seem to derive satisfaction from creating chaos and pushing other people’s buttons. Either way, they create unnecessary complexity, strife, and worst of all stress.
Studies have long shown that stress can have a lasting, negative impact on the brain. Exposure to even a few days of stress compromises the effectiveness of neurons in the hippocampus—an important brain area responsible for reasoning and memory. Weeks of stress cause reversible damage to neuronal dendrites (the small “arms” that brain cells use to communicate with each other), and months of stress can permanently destroy neurons. Stress is a formidable threat to your success—when stress gets out of control, your brain and your performance suffer.
Most sources of stress at work are easy to identify. If your non-profit is working to land a grant that your organization needs to function, you’re bound to feel stress and likely know how to manage it. It’s the unexpected sources of stress that take you by surprise and harm you the most.
Recent research from the Department of Biological and Clinical Psychology at Friedrich Schiller University in Germany found that exposure to stimuli that cause strong negative emotions—the same kind of exposure you get when dealing with difficult people—caused subjects’ brains to have a massive stress response. Whether it’s negativity, cruelty, the victim syndrome, or just plain craziness, difficult people drive your brain into a stressed-out state that should be avoided at all costs.
The ability to manage your emotions and remain calm under pressure has a direct link to your performance. TalentSmart has conducted research with more than a million people, and we’ve found that 90% of top performers are skilled at managing their emotions in times of stress in order to remain calm and in control. One of their greatest gifts is the ability to neutralize difficult people. Top performers have well-honed coping strategies that they employ to keep difficult people at bay.
While I’ve run across numerous effective strategies that smart people employ when dealing with difficult people, what follows are some of the best. To deal with difficult people effectively, you need an approach that enables you, across the board, to control what you can and eliminate what you can’t. The important thing to remember is that you are in control of far more than you realize. Read More...
Thursday, April 19, 2018 - Filed in: Court Cases
"Together with other provisions of the New Brunswick Liquor Control Act, s. 134(b) makes it an offence to “have or keep liquor” in an amount that exceeds a prescribed threshold purchased from any Canadian source other than the New Brunswick Liquor Corporation. C is a resident of New Brunswick who entered Quebec, visited three different stores, and purchased quantities of alcohol in excess of the applicable limit. Returning from Quebec to New Brunswick, C was stopped by the RCMP; he was charged under s. 134(b) and was issued a fine. C challenged the charge on the basis that s. 121 of the Constitution Act, 1867 — which provides that all articles of manufacture from any province shall be “admitted free” into each of the other provinces — renders s. 134(b) unconstitutional. The trial judge found s. 134(b) to be of no force and effect against C and dismissed the charge. The Court of Appeal dismissed the Crown’s application for leave to appeal."
The Court held that the appeal is allowed. Section 134(b) of the Liquor Control Act does not infringe s. 121 of the Constitution Act, 1867. Read More...
Monday, April 16, 2018 - Filed in: Arbitration Cases
Wednesday, April 11, 2018 - Filed in: General Interest
The Public Legal Education Association presented Ted Koskie with the 2017 Cam Partridge Memorial Volunteer of the Year Award. Read More...
Friday, March 23, 2018 - Filed in: Court Cases
"C was formerly a Senior Advisor in the Office of the Prime Minister. The year following his departure from this position, he agreed to use his government contacts to help H2O Professionals Inc. sell water treatment systems to First Nations. In exchange, H2O promised to pay a commission to his then girlfriend. After this agreement was made, C spoke to government officials in order to promote the purchase of H2O’s products. He sought to convince Indian and Northern Affairs Canada to set up a project whereby it would fund the purchase of H2O’s products to pilot them in First Nations communities. Sections 121(1) (a)(iii) and 121(1) (d)(i) of the Criminal Code criminalize the selling of influence in connection with any matter of business relating to the government. C was charged with influence peddling under s. 121(1) (d). At trial, he took the position that his assistance was not in connection with a matter of business relating to the government. The trial judge agreed and acquitted him on the basis that First Nations, rather than government, decided whether to purchase the type of water treatment systems sold by H2O. A majority of the Court of Appeal allowed the appeal. It set aside the acquittal, entered a verdict of guilty and remitted the matter to the trial judge for sentencing."
The S.C.C. (8:1) dismissed the appeal. Read More...
Thursday, March 15, 2018 - Filed in: General Interest
The following is a reprint of an article by Brett and Kate McKay that appears in the Art of Manliness web site.
The aristocratic La Rochefoucauld was born into wealth during a time in which the French royal court vacillated between aiding and threatening the noble class. During the mid-1640s, the French king (Louis XIV) was just a child, and his mother and other members of the royal court ruled in his stead. Oftentimes they executed policies that were in their own self-interest, and which reduced the power and independence of the nobility. In response, the nobility rebelled. From 1648 until 1653 France descended into a civil war between the noblemen and the bureaucrats of the royal court — battles that became known as the Fronde. La Rochefoucauld was one of the leading rebel noblemen during these wars. His father died fighting in the Fronde in 1650 and he himself was shot through the head. He was blinded from the headshot, but made a miraculous recovery and eventually regained full vision.
Despite their best efforts, the noblemen lost, and La Rochefoucauld retired to his country estate where he wrote and took part in the salon of Madeleine de Souvré, marquise de Sablé. Like many noblemen who fought in the Fronde, La Rochefoucauld wrote his memoirs. But he also spent a great deal of his time and energy on a collection of aphorisms that he entitled Maximes.
Maximes consists of hundreds of two- or three-line sentences in which La Rochefoucauld muses about honor, fate, friendship, love, and the human tendency for self-delusion. His experience with the royal court during the Fronde influenced his Maximes immensely. He saw firsthand the conniving and social duplicity that went on amongst members of the royal court and observed that often in life it isn’t the virtuous, but rather the cunning and lucky who succeeds. Like many French classical writers, La Rochefoucauld glorified strength of body and character, and despised weakness. It’s no surprise then that Nietzsche was highly influenced by him and tried to imitate his aphoristic style.
When you read La Rochefoucauld’s Maximes, you’re taken aback about how modern they seem. I sometimes forget I’m reading lines penned over 355 years ago. This is partly due to the fact that they are interlaced with a certain cynicism. In fact, Maximes offended some of La Rochefoucauld’s contemporaries who felt his cynicism was intended as a knock against traditional scruples and morality. But La Rochefoucauld himself was in fact an idealist who always led a very upright and virtuous life — sticking with his principles even when they got him into social and political trouble. His maxims were not then intended to inspire others to live in a strictly Machiavellian way, but rather to move readers towards greater self-awareness, and an understanding of the motives of others as to not be ensnared by their traps and temptations. In short, he was trying to figure out how to live one’s ideals in a backstabbing world where people are often not as they seem, and cannot even recognize their tendency to manipulate others and deceive themselves.
I like thumbing through the maxims of La Rochefoucauld every now and then when I feel like I’m getting too full of myself. His maxims remind me that oftentimes success in life comes through mere luck and that Lady Luck is a fickle dame. What’s more, his keen insights about human psychology remind me that the easiest person to fool is usually yourself, so always question the narratives you’re telling yourself, about yourself.
Below I offer a collection of my favorite maxims from the 504 that La Rochefoucauld penned. Hopefully they will give you a taste of his style, as well as insights on how to more deftly navigate a world that still remarkably resembles the machinations of a French royal court. Read More...
Monday, March 05, 2018 - Filed in: General Interest
I do not frequently recommend books. However, this book is well worth reading. It is written by Timothy Snyder, a world-renowned authority on Eastern Europe and the Holocaust. He is the Housum Professor of History at Yale University and a permanent fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna. The following is a summary appearing on the CBC Radio web site. Read More...
Monday, February 12, 2018 - Filed in: General Interest
The following is a reprint of an article by Brett and Kate McKay that appears in the Art of Manliness web site.
Whenever there is a tragedy somewhere in the world, people tend to react with an outpouring of emotion and sympathy. This a healthy and excellent thing, but oftentimes the sympathetic impulse rises and extinguishes all within the confines of a person’s chest and without producing any external effect. Too often we compulsively consume the news the way we consume a book or a movie: as removed spectators who enjoy the drama—the emotions it elicits—for its own sake. (Most people do not think of horror and sympathy as pleasurable, but all intense emotions, when experienced in a situation of safety, offer a certain gratification.) This passivity is understandable—we feel powerless to do anything beyond broadcasting support on social media. But in this we think too narrowly. While it may not be possible to turn our sympathetic feelings into actions that will directly help the victims of tragedies, we should not let this noble impulse—an affirmation of our best humanity—pass by unutilized either. Read More...
Thursday, February 08, 2018 - Filed in: Court Cases
In the recent case of Gordon v Altus, 2015 ONSC 5, the Ontario Superior Court considered several issues that arose in a wrongful dismissal case. The plaintiff sold his company to the defendant and was hired on after the sale. However, the relationship broke down. In the employer's view, the plaintiff engaged in conduct that amounted to just cause, some of which was discovered after the dismissal: talking about senior personnel in a derogatory manner, swearing to the point where it made working with him unbearable, not disclosing lending money to a company the employer was doing business with, which created a conflict of interest, and employing someone who had been charged with fraud and misleading the defendant of same. Read More...
Thursday, February 01, 2018 - Filed in: General Interest
In Telus Communications Inc. v. Telecommunication Workers’ Union, 2017 BCCA 100, the BC Court of Appeal held that the Telecommunications Workers’ Union (the “Union”) did not have the right to participate in all employee requests for accommodation. An application for leave to appeal the Court of Appeal’s decision was recently dismissed by the Supreme Court of Canada, making the Court of Appeal’s decision the final word on the matter. Read More...
Monday, January 29, 2018 - Filed in: General Interest
The following is a reprint of an article by Brett and Kate McKay that appears in the Art of Manliness web site.
It is the evening of September 19, 1931.
Three men stroll down Addison’s Walk, a picturesque footpath that runs along the River Cherwell on the grounds of Oxford’s Magdalen College. Two of the men — C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien — are particularly engaged with one another, deep inside an animated discussion on the nature of metaphor and myth.
While both men are 30-something war veterans, teach and lecture at Oxford colleges, and share a love of old literature, the two friends are in many ways a study in contrasts. Lewis has a ruddy complexion and thickly set build. His clothes are loose and shabby. His voice booms as he speaks. Tolkien is slender, dresses nattily, and speaks elusively. Lewis is more brash; Tolkien more reserved.
Besides differences in personality, the men are divided by something more fundamental: Tolkien has been a faithful Catholic since childhood, while Lewis has been a committed atheist since the age of 15.
Over the last few years, however, Lewis’ position on God has slowly been softening, partly due to his friendship with Tolkien and the many conversations they’ve had since first meeting five years ago. The two academics — Tolkien a Professor of Anglo-Saxon; Lewis a Fellow and Tutor of English Literature — initially bonded over a shared love of what Lewis calls “Northerness” — an almost visceral pang of longing for the epic, heroic, grey-filtered world described in Norse mythology.
At times the men have stayed up until the early hours of the morning, “discoursing of the gods and giants and Asgard.” Lewis has often shared with Tolkien his affinity for Baldr — the Norse god of love and peace, forgiveness and justice — who is wrongly killed but comes back to life after Ragnarok (a kind of Viking apocalypse). He has told his friend that he feels “mysteriously moved” by such stories of sacrifice, death, and resurrection.
A love of mythology may have brought the friends together, but it has also served as one of Lewis’ major stumbling blocks to embracing Christianity. As a young man he had decided that the faith was simply “one mythology among many,” and was just as fabricated as all the rest: “All religions, that is, all mythologies to give them their proper name, are merely man’s own invention — Christ as much as Loki.”
Yet as much as Lewis wished to hold onto this position, he couldn’t shake the sense that it felt like a stiff and confining set of clothes — that he had stubbornly been keeping something at bay he wasn’t entirely sure he didn’t want to embrace. Despite his best defenses, he felt a prodding within, and believed it was God himself who was actively hunting him like a deer; “I never had the experience of looking for God,” he later said. “It was the other way round.”
If God was indeed “stalking” Lewis, this pursuit often took the form of conversations with his friends — not only Tolkien, but other bright scholars who saw no contradiction between their intellectualism and their faith. They challenged Lewis’ conviction that the head and the heart could not be combined, peppered him with searching questions he struggled to answer to his satisfaction, and ultimately set him off on a journey to see if rational underpinnings for theism could be found.
Much to Lewis’ dismay, his project was a success. Though he did not want to acknowledge the existence of God, did not want “to go back to the bondage of believing in any old (and already decaying) superstition,” and wished not to be “interfered with” by Deity or anyone else, he found that, to his mind, the evidence indeed pointed to there being some kind of higher power in the universe. And so in 1929, he knelt down, “admitted that God was God,” and became the “most reluctant convert in all of England.”
To Lewis it was a purely rational decision, and while he became a theist that night, his belief did not extend beyond an unknown, impersonal God into a faith in Christ specifically. It would take two more years, and one transformative conversation begun along Addison’s Walk, for him to make that leap.
Lewis takes that walk not only with Tolkien, but also Hugo Dyson, who teaches English at Reading University and is, like Tolkien, a committed Christian. Amidst a swirl of leaves a warm wind has dislodged from the trees, Lewis lays out his remaining obstacle to embracing his friends’ faith. He tells them that he can conceive of Christ as an ultimate exemplar in how to live a virtuous life, but that he struggles with the whole idea of his enacting an atonement that saves mankind. He couldn’t see “how the life and death of Someone Else (whoever he was) 2,000 years ago could help us here and now.” Phrases like “sacrifice” and “the Blood of the Lamb,” seem to Lewis to be “either silly or shocking.”
Tolkien and Dyson listen to their friend’s concerns, and decide to retire to Lewis’ lodgings at the college to continue the discussion. The men settle themselves in Lewis’ room and take out their pipes. As the clock ticks past midnight, and the room fills with curls of smoke, both Dyson and Tolkien share insights from their own journey to faith. But it is Tolkien’s arguments that will ultimately hold the most sway. The professor unfolds to Lewis a different way of looking at the centrepiece of the Christian gospels — one that ironically embraces, rather than flees from, the idea of it being a myth.
Myths, Tolkien explains, are not fairy tales, intentional lies, or mere fabrications, but are instead powerful vehicles for revealing the world’s deepest truths. All myths, he argues, illuminate layers and dimensions of existence that are often missed by our narrow human vision. In this way, they can actually be more “real” than what we normally call reality. Tolkien posits that myth makers exercise a God-given power, and act as “sub-creators” who share pieces of the ultimate Truth that is hidden from plain sight. All the world’s myths then serve as prisms through which we can see fragments of divine light. Stories, Tolkien argues, are sacramental.
Lewis has gone from believing that Christianity is a myth that is false like all other myths, to feeling that he must think Christianity is a true religion, wholly different from the false world of mythology. Tolkien suggests another perspective: that all myths reflect “a splintered fragment of the true light,” and that Christianity is a “true myth” that encompasses and expands on all the rest. That is, while God had formerly used the poetic images and traditions of other cultures to express himself, Christ had come in real historical time to live out a story that actually happened.
Yet, Tolkien challenges his friend, the Christian story of atonement and resurrection should still be approached just as Lewis had the Norse tales of gods like Baldr — allowing the story to deeply and mysteriously move him. Like all myths, the true myth of Christ was not to be grasped mechanistically, as a literal description of things that had happened, but imaginatively, for its meaning. The Christian myth was true not in the sense of revealing the actual nature of God, and how exactly mankind had been redeemed, which finite minds could not possibly comprehend; it was true in the sense that the incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection composed the best vehicle — the best narrative — by which the human mind could be illuminated and catch a glimpse of the deeper structure underlying the eternities.
Lewis’ pilgrimage to faith had been a long one, in which intellectual barriers gradually fell away and pieces of insight slowly fell into place. But there remained one jumble still to untangle. All his life, Lewis has felt the tug of two seemingly contradictory impulses: one, a deep, unsatisfied longing for beauty and joy, and two, the desire to make sense of the world rationally. As Tolkien speaks, Lewis realizes that these two inclinations needn’t be at odds, and can in fact be reconciled. He sees that faith can be the greatest catalyst for imagination, and that imagination can conceive of a reality more real than that which can be discovered by clinical observation alone. A new possibility opens to Lewis: one in which he can bring his entire self to the Christian faith — mind and heart, intellect and intuition. It is a transformative, revelatory moment.
Lewis continued to talk with Tolkien and Dyson until three in the morning. And as he continued to turn over their conversation in the days that followed, his belief in the Passion story grew, until he could write to a friend on October 1: “I have just passed on from believing in God to definitely believing in Christ — in Christianity. I will try to explain this another time. My long night talk with Dyson and Tolkien had a great deal to do with it.”
Lewis has not only passed on from theism but to a wholly new path for his life. He is destined to become the most famous Christian apologist of his time, the creator of his own illuminating myths in the form of the Narnia series, and a writer whose works continue to be discovered and prized today. A single conversation begun on Addison’s Walk turned out to be something like a railroad switch — diverting Lewis from the track he was on, and sending him in a completely new direction. Read More...
Monday, January 15, 2018 - Filed in: General Interest
When it comes to keeping your New Year’s resolutions, you probably think you know the secret to success.
Whether you’ve resolved to lose weight, eat better, use your time more effectively, or even to amor fati, you’ve simply got to get more disciplined.
Certainly, discipline plays a crucial role in making any mindset or behavioral change. We’ve said as much ourselves.
But the exact nature of this need for discipline is frequently misunderstood. Read More...
Tuesday, January 02, 2018 - Filed in: General Interest
The following is a reprint of an article by Kyle Eschenroeder that appears in the Art of Manliness web site.
We’ve once more rolled into the time of year where many of us make resolutions for how to live better in the months to come.
Most of these resolutions concern very concrete, practical parts of life: losing weight, exercising more, wasting less time, getting organized. Worthy resolutions all.
But the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche once gave himself a different kind of resolution — one that was both epically sweeping, and yet had the potential to tangibly transform every single area of his life:
“For the New Year . . . everyone takes the liberty of expressing his wish and his favorite thought: well, I also mean to tell what I have wished for myself today, and what thought first crossed my mind this year,—a thought which ought to be the basis, the pledge and the sweetening of all my future life! I want more and more to perceive the necessary characters in things as the beautiful:—I shall thus be one of those who beautify things. Amor fati: let that henceforth be my love! I do not want to wage war with the ugly. I do not want to accuse, I do not want even to accuse the accusers. Looking aside, let that be my sole negation! And all in all, to sum up: I wish to be at any time hereafter only a yea-sayer!”
Nietzsche resolved to amor fati — to love his fate. He wanted to say yes to life.
Amor fati was in fact not just a one-time new year’s resolution for Nietzsche, but central to his whole philosophy:
“My formula for human greatness is amor fati: that one wants to have nothing different, not forward, not backward, not in all eternity. Not merely to bear the necessary, still less to conceal it. . . . but to love it.”
While Nietzsche’s resolve to amor fati was rather broad and immense in scope, he fortunately had a very specific tool to help him achieve his goal: the idea of eternal return.
If saying yes to life is a resolution you’d also like to make this year, then this tool — this radically perspective-altering prism — will prove invaluable to you as well. Read More...