Saturday, January 12, 2013


In Winnipeg Free Press December 29, 2012 article "Selinger's got game" Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger thinks it is appropriate to prioritize taxpayers' money  (despite the province facing the largest deficit in recorded provincial history) to support the financial hardship incurred by--egad,  politicians during elections. This epiphany came at the heels of the new Leader of the Opposition Party--Brian Pallister's purchase of a $2 million mansion in Winnipeg.

In the United States, democracy "has really become a club for millionaires and, in some cases, billionaires," ... Selinger went on to say, "I think that democracy needs to function in a way that average people have a chance to participate in it...and if that requires modest amounts of public investment to do that, I don't think that's inappropriate." 

Even dead fish can go with the flow.

Dear Reader,

Please do your part to remind Mr. Selinger that there are others, certainly more vulnerable (who cannot access the democratic process) than leaders of political parties whose own personal wealth could likely support a small country. Also, are the majority of politicians not in fact lawyers? What's next on your game plan--send a poor NHL player to camp? 

When you consider that the average income for an individual in Manitoba is $29,250 according to 2010 Stats Canada, and the average hourly rate for a lawyer is $250 to $600 an hour, it is safe to say, the average person is not being represented. It is well reported in my blog, and would appear to be the consensus of expert opinion that those that do try to represent themselves generally end up getting badly beaten and bruised as the court system does not encourage or support self-represented litigants.

Jamie Ryan has been fighting for equal access to his young daughter since the day she was born nearly three years ago. When his ex-girlfriend announced she was moving to Toronto and taking their daughter with her, Ryan hired a lawyer and spent $30,000 trying to stop her. The judge ruled against him. “So that was a waste of money, really,” he says.

Since then, Ryan — who owns an Ottawa company called Executive Golf — has been representing himself in court. So far, he’s appeared before seven different judges. Despite some limited success, the experience has been deeply disillusioning. The judges, he says, treated him like a criminal...
Julie Macfarlane is a law professor at the University of Windsor and has interviewed about 280 self-represented litigants in Ontario, Alberta and BC as seen in FAIR article:

What has surprised me is how traumatized people are by the experiences they're having, how many lives are getting wrecked, how much anger and frustration is out there," says Macfarlane who plans to publish her findings this spring. "It makes you wonder, given that self-reps are now a majority in the legal system, how much longer the system can hang on.

Those that are self-represented generally find themselves fighting a David and Goliath battle where justice is not weighed on evidence, but on the fact those with deep pockets (like government, big business, and members of The Law Society) have unlimited resources and nothing but time on its side.  
See related posting: Legal Costs Laughing Matter to Ombudsman
Being self-represented is disadvantage enough, but if you also happen to be a person with a mental disability, you will likely find NO advocacy or accommodation, particularly if the complaint is against the Province or its government services.  
We need to be mindful as to why legislation came up with the concept of tribunals, such as the Human Rights Commission and Labour Board in the first place. These were established (and hoards of tax dollars spent) and rationalized as follows:
  • as an alternative to the court system for those most vulnerable;
  • for those that could not access the court system
    • due to disability or
    • because they did not have the financial means to hire a lawyer.
And yet, when I tried to access these government services, I was verbally assaulted, reproached by a board member/lawyer for crossing the line --"delving into a lawyers' world!"  
See related posting:
Oct 26, 2011
And it seemed to really anger him that Marielle was way over her head delving into a lawyers' world. "This (Labour Board) is not an investigation. It's a trial by paper and you blew it by not going to a lawyer!" In anticipation of ...
Not until we have a government that actually does fight for the average person, and one that actually encourages and yes--demands civil behaviour of politicians and provincial gatekeepers; will we be able to ensure civil rights for everyone and ensure that we can access our rights to justice as equals in a democratic society.

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