Gandhi’s Mumbai

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Lawyers helped shape the face and fate of India. I refer to Mahatma Gandhi, India’s spiritual leader, and Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister. We could see the impact of these two leaders as we completed a month-long tour of various cities in India in November and part of December.

As you might suppose, the experience overwhelmed us. We landed first in Mumbai, India’s largest city with a population of more than 21 million, including the various regions. Mumbai lies on the Konkan coast adjacent to the Arabian Sea. With a deep natural harbour, people have inhabited this region for thousands of years.

Mumbai claims three UNESCO World heritage sites including the Elephanta Caves, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus and a vast number of Victorian and Art Deco Buildings. Boasting the most millionaires of any city in India, the name of the game almost always includes commerce.

Our tour organizer collected 15 brave souls to travel India for the next month. We arrive at the luxurious Taj Palace Hotel. This heritage five-star saracenic hotel opened in 1903 and could then claim India’s first elevator, bar and jazz scene. A few of our company took advantage of the spa and various treatments available. The wide range of restaurants and bars cater to a wide range of tastes. The hotel includes some notorious history when it became the scene of the 2008 terrorist attack. The hotel reopened after several years with extensive renovations and security precautions.

img_0253The Taj can be found near the sea and the Gateway of India. The Gateway intended to commemorate the landing of King George V and Queen Mary on their visit to India in 1911. They did manage to see the mock-up model as the actual Gateway was not completed until 1924. Constructed from basalt, the 26-metre-tall Gateway became the ceremonial entrance to India for the viceroys and governors of what was then Bombay. Interestingly, the last British troops left in February 1948 following India’s independence. The Gateway serves as a memento of British Rule. On Sunday, my wife and I toured the grounds in front of the Gateway. Amid the thousands of other locals, five families separately asked if they could take pictures of us with their families. A number of others simply took surreptitious selfie shots with us in the background.

Our first full day takes us on a 7 a.m. walkabout. By rush hour, some of these areas become impassable. We first pass by the India Stock Exchange. Once again, the threat of terrorism reduces vehicle traffic.

img_0259-1On the second day, we come to the Mani Bhavan where Gandhi lived for a number of years. Gandhi attended law school in London and practised in India for only a short period. He found a position essentially in-house in South Africa. Here he championed Indian rights and fought against excessive land tax and discrimination. When he returned to India, Gandhi occupied one room in this house from 1917 until 1934. From here, he launched the Satyagraha in 1919.

Satyagraha essentially means holding on to truth. This formed the essence of Gandhi’s nonviolent resistance. This did not mean inaction, but rather it encapsulated civil resistance. Gandhi developed this approach prior to reading Henry David Thoreau’s book Civil Disobedience. Gandhi contrasted his approach as defining it as a weapon of the strong, as non-violent and as an insistence upon the truth.  The British brutally put down any potential insurrections, and at the Jallianwala Bagh tragedy park on April 13, 1919, when the British fired upon unarmed protestors, the Indian National Congress determined that more than 1,000 people were killed. Gandhi took other opportunities to recommence his Satyagraha.

The Indian government converted the Mani Bhavan into a museum. Several of Gandhi’s letters are shown, along with numerous dioramas showing Gandhi’s efforts toward gaining Indian Independence. His room shows little furniture and a simple mat on the floor along with his accompanying spinning wheel. In 1921, at Gandhi’s suggestion, the spinning wheel found a place on the Swaraj flag.

We stopped and read a number of Gandhi’s sayings framed on several walls. A letter from Albert Einstein stated: “Generations to come, it may be, will scarcely believe that such one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth.”

We leave the museum with a greater understanding as to how the history of the country could be impacted by one individual. This drive for independence can be reflected in the rest of our tour and how the country slowly adapted.

img_0262We come across the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus railway station, one of the UNESCO sites, which serves as the headquarters of the Central Railways. British architect Frederick Stevens designed the building in the manner of Victorian Italianate Gothic Revival to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria. The structure merges the best of industrial technology at the time along with the Gothic Revival style. In Mumbai alone, 2,342 train systems carry more than 7.5 million passengers daily. We returned to the structure in the morning when it was still dark. The lighting display exaggerated the various styles and made it well worth the effort.

Early this same morning, we set out to see the paper sorters. Out on the street, dozens of vendors sort out the various newspapers to be delivered to certain businesses and individuals. Delivery takes place using a standard bike carrying stacks of papers more than a metre tall. Other vendors can be found selling chai nearby. We drink a small sample and find that the boiling hot tea, enhanced with a bit of ginger, is delicious.

The noise and the activity can be captivating. During the monsoon season, the sorting and deliveries would be far more challenging.

Later that day, we set out to see the Dabbawalas (“someone who carries a box”) food delivery. Also know as dabbas, they deliver the more than 200,000 tiffin lunch boxes daily. The dabbas traditionally wear the white kurta (smock) and a white Gandhi cap, and they ride bicycles. The typical tiffin lunchbox comes in three or four tiers. The bottom tier contains rice while the other tiers contain vegetables, dahl, flatbreads and a dessert. Families cook the majority of the meals. With 5,000 dabbas moving this many tiffin lunches, they still manage a more than 99.999% success rate. The entire system became the focus of an article in the November 2012 Harvard Business Review.

The dabbas collect the tiffins around 10 a.m. from the various cottage industries and deliver them. A system of symbols and colours ensures that the right meal gets to the right individual. After lunch, the whole system reverses itself.

img_0260Afterwards, our tour guide takes us to Dhobi Ghat. Mumbai lays claim to the world’s largest open laundry. The laundry comprises rows of open-air, concrete wash pens and a flogging stone. More than 7,000 people (dhobis) flog and scrub the clothes in the morning. One can see the amount of effort going into washing each piece. The clothes then dry in the afternoon. Tourists can observe the laundry in action from the bridge near the Mahalaxmi Railway Station.

On the bridge, my wife took the opportunity to feed one of the many charity cows. For 100 rupees, the person tending the cow provides you a handful of grass to feed the cow as part of one’s charitable work for the day.

Driving back to the hotel gives us the opportunity to watch the overwhelming amount of merchant activity that takes place on the street. You can travel to different bazaars to focus on vegetables, fish, flowers, spices and just about everything else. Walking through the spice bazaar became an aromatic experience.

Ghandi’s vision of a prosperous India included its people being as involved as possible. He objected to the craze for machinery and not to machines as such. He believed that the supreme consideration should be the individual.


Not-for-profit does not mean no profit How to optimize your volunteer time

adult-african-descent-american-1345085Not-for-Profit organizations aspire to be the best in their field. These mission driven organizations differ from standard for-profit corporations, and directors understand the pivotal role a high performing board can play in such an ambitious mission driven venture. Directors often ask what approach they could follow to foster this need for a high performance organization.  Other directors express concern that board and committee meetings do not deal with important and strategic issues facing the organization.  In addition, board and committee meetings can take too long for time-constrained directors. Could an improved governance model help deal with these issues? Directors often direct these type of questions to the lawyers on the board.


Board Criteria

The form of the board should follow its function. If you have a fully formed board wondering about expanding its function and looking for something to do, then you may have an issue.

The board needs its own terms of reference and this end dictates the form of the board. The existing terms of reference for a board should fall within three main objectives: setting direction through the mission and the strategic plan, obtaining resources through fundraising and investing, and monitoring performance by objective setting.

All organizations need a mission statement. The board should have a major role in ensuring that the strategic plan fulfills the mission of the organization. Various important and strategic issues constantly arise that can facilitate or impair the accomplishment of the strategic plan. Addressing these issues should be a major focus of the board.

Fund raising itself provides means to enhance capacity for the organization to increase mission impact.  The organization’s mission and goals clearly convey what the organization strives to accomplish. Organizations today use additional means to increase their impact; for example through strategic partnerships with other organizations, and collectively through coalitions and networks.  The most substantial contribution a director can make is not necessarily through financial giving. This broadened focus on other skills, expertise, connections and innovative ideas would increase the board’s effectiveness in advancing the organization’s objectives.

Finally, objective setting and achievement of these objectives should be monitored by the board. This monitoring and reporting should be at level allowing the board to see how the organization moves toward achieving the strategic plan. Highly detailed reports are more appropriate for management purposes to facilitate day to day operational changes.


Director Criteria

Achieving the organization’s goals depends on the engagement of diverse sectors of society.  This requires expansion of the partnerships that share your organization’s mission to leverage resources and to achieve shared goals.  Such engagement and expansion requires the broadest possible vision for the organization’s future growth, new linkages to emerging networks, and innovative ideas for connecting with diverse communities.

Achieving a high performing board requires adding diversity. The organization must ensure the board of directors comprises members who have the time, talent and resources to help the organization reach its objectives.  Making board and committee attendance as effective as possible would facilitate this board makeup.

Board Meeting Agenda Optimization

Meetings should be focused directly on the board’s top strategic and policy priorities. Agendas should focus on high-priority issues at each meeting with discussions led by those groups responsible for the preparation of background and supporting information.

The board agenda comprises the mindset of the directors. Agenda items illustrate what the board considers to be strategic and important. Engaging agendas reduce time spent on passive reports and more time spent on discussion of strategic matters.

Committees should continue to report on important matters and other recommendations requiring board approval. In addition, Committee chairs have the option to move their various reports to a consent agenda if no important matters or recommendations are being brought to the full board. Directors can review the reports at a later time and any questions collected as they arise. Directors could simply speak to the staff liaison if the matter is somewhat simple. In addition, the questions could be reviewed at the board level or perhaps answered in a directors mailing if the question was seen as relevant to the entire board. Other matters to be addressed by the board come up on an irregular basis. This could be standardized somewhat by clearly stating in advance what items will be addressed:

Important board and committee issues could include topics that cannot be fully addressed in a report and that should have the input from the full board. For example, questions on a campaign may require fuller explanation on logistics, director involvement, project management concerns and synergy with the board.


Committees should be designed to facilitate the operations of the board and not act as another level of management. Other committees such as Personnel Policy, Governance, Audit and Nominations could meet in person or by conference call prior to the traditional board meetings. Reports from these various committees can be provided during the board meeting. In order to facilitate greater attendance, the directors should be able to attend by conference call. This would also have the benefit of allowing other new directors from diverse backgrounds the ability to attend meetings. Committees can add other stakeholders to act in an advisory role and to enlarge the framework. Adding stakeholders acts as a mentoring process for eventual nomination to the board.

Change management and Implementation

A new board structure focuses on how directors should deal with new emergent issues and how the board should refocus its energy. To facilitate this refocusing, directors must start a gradual transition in the board’s structure and processes.

Innovations require a change management process prior to proceeding with any implementation. Those impacted by any potential changes can act as barriers to change or as blocks of inertia. Directors must provide opportunities for input and instill a sense of urgency for the changes. Directors acting as change agents and champions should also be looking for some early wins and a way to celebrate those wins.

Potential change issues to be discussed at board meetings

  1. Should the board’s main objectives be setting direction through the mission and the strategic plan, obtaining resources through fundraising and investing, and monitoring performance by objective setting?
  1. Should there be fewer committees with directors operating at a higher level?
  1. Should the Board meeting agenda be structured for mainly discussing strategic and important issues?
  1. Should directors apply themselves to their areas of expertise without necessarily be expected to fundraise?

New board structures and processes can help maximize a not-for-profit’s impact on its mission. New governance models require careful planning and even more careful implementation.


Incorporating Machiavelli into the mergers and acquisitions department

Niccolò Machiavelli


Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli was the Renaissance-era politician, writer, philosopher and name-sake of the adjective “Machiavellian,” frequently used in political discourse to refer to achieving power through cunning, manipulative, cynical, ruthless and immoral means.

“So Nick, thanks for coming in for an interview. We are very interested in having you join our M&A department. I understand that you have been in practice for a number of years. Prior to this, you were an Italian historian, statesman, and political philosopher. Your legal tactics epitomize cunning and duplicity. Even your name conjures up negative thoughts. To be called a Machiavellian lawyer can be the worst form of insult.”

“It is much safer to be feared than loved,” Nick replies.

“Interesting, I see. It really seems that you have one of those ‘rags-to-riches’ type of story. Did that impact you in anyway?”

“He who has relied least on fortune is established the strongest,” Nick says.

“What does not kill me makes me stronger. Yes, I have always liked that approach,” the interview continues. “You became quite active in mergers and acquisitions. Do you have an eye for businesses ripe for a takeover?”

Nick briefly considers the question. “He who does not properly manage this business will soon lose what he has acquired.”

“So looking for a poorly run business seems a good approach. I understand that when you helped your client, Mr. Prince, for your last acquisition, it was a hostile takeover. Did you have to clean house a bit? The directors may have been upset.”

“The prince, with little reluctance, takes the opportunity of the rebellion to punish the delinquents, to clear out the suspects, and to strengthen himself in the weakest places,” he answers.

“Yes, I read that you moved out most of the directors who opposed you. Was this ‘shock and awe’ tactic pivotal?”

“Hence it is that all armed prophets have conquered and the unarmed ones have been destroyed,” he says.

“Well, that is a bit dramatic, but I take your point. I hear you managed to reverse some declared but unearned options for the individual directors. That must have hurt.”

“Men ought to be well treated or crushed, because they can avail themselves of lighter injuries, of more serious ones they cannot; therefore the injury that is to be done to a man ought to be of such a kind that one does not stand in fear of revenge,” Nick declares, crossing his arms with self-assurance.

“Sounds a little harsh, but seemed to work. The new board certainly believed in your new direction. Do you think they will stand behind the new CEO?”

“And thus it is necessary to take such measures that, when they believe no longer, it may be possible to make them believe by force,” he replies.

“Get on the bus, or get under it. That is really tough leadership. And you helped implement some new business plans I understand. How did you view the staff who remained?”

“Because this is to be asserted in general of men, that they are ungrateful, fickle, false, cowardly, covetous, and as long as you succeed, they are yours entirely,” Nick says matter-of-factly.

“You are saying that as long as you are reaching your goals, people are happy. Did you have any problems with management and the new strategies you were suggesting?”

Nick took a deep breath, exhaled and looked at the ceiling, before replying, “There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.”

“I’m with you on that. Boy, we implemented this new accounting package and the backlash caught everyone off guard. How did the rest of the staff respond to the fast paced changes?”

“In seizing a state, the usurper ought to examine closely into all those injuries which is necessary for him to inflict, and to do them all at one stroke so as not to have to repeat them daily,” Nick says.

“Yes, if you are pulling off a band aid, better to do it all at once … ”

Nick interjects, “For injuries ought to be done all at one time, so that being tasted less, then offend less: benefits ought to be given little by little, so that the flavour of them may last longer.”

“What sort of leadership qualities did the new CEO Mr. Prince have that really stood out?”

“It is unnecessary for a prince to have all the good qualities enumerated, but it is very necessary to appear to have them,” he says.

“Fake it till you make it. Got it. But to be a good leader, do you agree that credibility is one of the most important criteria?”

“It is necessary to know well how to disguise this characteristic, and to be a great pretender and dissembler; and men are so simple,” Nick says, “and so subject to present necessities, that he who seeks to deceive will always find someone who will allow himself to be deceived.”

“I hear you. A leader has to put on a front for staff and can be himself for family and friends. Do you have an open-door policy, you know that speaking truth to power thing?”

“But when everyone may tell you the truth, respect for you abates.”

“I see. Did you implement some sort of bonus retention plan to keep the key staff?”

“He who believes that new benefits will cause great personages to forget old injuries is deceived,” Nick says.

“Ok, so money may not smooth over past slights. Do you have particular ways to discipline staff that may not be following your directions?”

“Leave affairs of reproach to the management of others and keep those of grace in their own hands,” he says.

“Seems like a good idea to pass out the roses yourself, and leave the real dirt to someone else. I know this is confidential. But what can you tell me about any future takeovers?”

“He ought never, therefore, to have out of his thoughts this subject of war, and in peace he should addict himself more to its exercise than in war,” Nick replies.

“Yes, business is like war, and all is fair in love and war. Do you have any guidelines you follow to make your clients a fortune with M&A?”

“Fortune, who shows her power where valour has not prepared to resist her,” he says. “And thither she turns her forces where she knows that barriers and defenses have not been raised to constrain her.”

“Got it. Go for the weakest underbelly. I read something like that in Art of War or something. Thanks for your time Nick, and we will let you know. People certainly are talking about your working approach.”

“Hatred is acquired as much by good works as from bad.”

“Good to know. Have a nice day!”


Everything you wanted to know about Cannabis But thought it too illicit to ask.



Canadians absorbed and inhaled the new Cannabis Act without any major societal destabilization. Now that the initial debris settled, the overall haze may increase. What should you know about cannabis before the haze obscures your vision?


The Act proposes to reduce illicit activities in relation to cannabis and provide for the licit production of cannabis. One does not see the word licit very often, or ever. Apparently, everything appears licit unless described somewhere else as illicit. This column shall make prodigious use of the word licit.


One of the main licit activities listed in the legislation includes the licit possession of 30 gms of dried cannabis. This compares favorably to the licit possession of the 35 gms of sugar found in your regular coke. Interesting aside, upcoming legislation will make it no longer licit (meaning illicit) to market unhealthy food and beverages to children.


The Cannabis Act allows up to four cannabis plants in a dwelling. The growing regulations previously limited plant growth to no more than one metre, but the feds removed this restriction. My previous plant growing experience would seem to indicate that an oversized plant would not have been a problem, and would rather be quite unlikely. I normally rely on the Darwinism approach that only plants that can survive in the drought environment I normally provide, followed by an occasional torrential drenching.


Cannabinoids comprise the psychoactive substance in cannabis, and THC is the main drug at issue. Cannabis also contains, cannabidiol, CBD, but this has no psychoactive properties on its own. CBD may assist in the body’s metabolism of THC. Sort of a digestive aid perhaps.


One company’s stock skyrocketed once the stock market heard that Coke was waxing philosophically about incorporating CDB into one of its lifestyle drinks. Coke may be considering getting back to its roots by adding other drugs into its mix since it already includes caffeine. And perhaps even more mind expanding: Sugar. Admittedly, this is more body expanding than mind expanding. But perhaps Coke wants to get back to its original roots when the formulation included trace amounts of cocaine according to Snopes.Com.


CBD seems to provide other positive attributes, but its oily quality may make a liquid formulation unpalatable. And CBD leaves a bitter taste in your mouth comparable to that opportunity/investment/person that you did not follow-up on but still see around occasionally.




Not surprisingly, the LA Times provided a helpful guideline on the recommended gms of THC usage. Raw cannabis contains vey little of the active THC psychoactive compound. Heating triggers a chemical process called decarboxylation, which facilitates the chemical conversion into THC. More than half of the THC can be lost in this process. Therefore, a standard joint of .3 gms can deliver 12 mg THC through toking and the rest is lost. A vaporizer can deliver 17 mg. Perhaps Vaping should be renamed Voping in this situation.


No less than Business Insider conducted some experimentation and discovered that a ‘few hits’ would provide the ideal ‘goldilocks’ state of relaxation. Participants at this level did better in job interviews and other calculations. More than this amount resulted in greater stress with the participants. The study did not clarify if the higher-level THC participants’ increased stress arose from having trouble finding the interview rooms.


THC possesses psychoactive properties, which mean it changes brain function by altering perception, mood, consciousness, cognition or behaviour. As dire as this sounds, other chemicals such as alcohol, nicotine and caffeine reside in this psychoactive category. Apparently, these last three chemicals cause greater levels of addiction.


We can neatly categorize these drugs into two categories, agonists and antagonists. THC falls into the agonist category, which is responsible for increased activity in the brain’s neurotransmitters. Those that partake minimally apparently see an increase in philosophical thinking. Caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol fall within antagonist category and these drugs interfere with synthesis or block postsynaptic receptors. These people develop an intolerance for philosophical speaking if it delays them from getting their dose. The first two are stimulants while the last is a depressant.


THC also assists in the metacognition. Knowing about knowing. This includes knowledge about when and how to use particular strategies for learning or problem solving. This may have some interesting applications when trying to divine new legal strategies for a particularly complex situation. We would only suggest perhaps testing a very senior partner under very controlled circumstances not within the office. So only try this at home kids. Of course, get the proper medical, legal and insurability advice before attempting anything like this.


If THC increases metacognition, we may start to see cannabis in situations requiring creative thinking. I overheard a senator asking about how to turn off the smoke detectors. There may be a connection.


One of the other major factors giving the federal government more of a natural high would be the potential $618 million in tax revenue coming from the sale of cannabis. This would likely expand to a billion or more in the future.


For drivers, the feds operate on a zero-tolerance policy. You would be better off being nowhere near your car when partaking considering we are talking about THC detection in nanograms, which is a billionth of a gram. In comparison, a grain of salt is 58,000 nanograms. Once you get your A.I. billing program, you might start billing at this infinitesimally small level.


The federal THC limit is 2-5 ng, which results in up to $1,000 fine and tests showing greater than 5 ng results in a $1,000 mandatory fine and prison sentences for subsequent convictions. Drivers with .05 mg alcohol and greater than 2.5 ng have the same penalty as over 5 ng.


So don’t be a dope and drive.







HR Cannabis Policy and Watching the Watchers

blur-bud-cannabis-1466335.jpg‘Got to Get You into My Life’[i]

Paul McCartney’s love song to pot

With the legalization of cannabis, employers, companies and employees now wonder how to deal with this new chemical in the workplace. Although HR departments already deal with alcohol, nicotine and other recreational drugs, (and I refer to HR staff using these drugs to handle stress) cannabis challenges them even further.


The provinces intend to pass their own cannabis legislation. The Ontario Cannabis Act (soon to be renamed) prohibits recreational cannabis within the workplace. And unlike medical cannabis, there is no ‘workplace cannabis’ category exception.


Some federal departments passed their own requirements. The RCMP members cannot use cannot use cannabis within 28 days of a shift while some police use a fit for duty criteria. The Armed Forces use much more specific terms. Here members must not partake 8 hours before performing any duty. This increases up to 24 hours if they are handling explosive ordnance. I naively thought that all ordnance was explosive, but ordinary ordinance includes things like jeeps. Explosive ordnance includes things like ordnances that explode.


For the rest of the provinces one of the main criteria involves a safe work environment. Companies need to ascertain what THC levels would be appropriate for their particular type of work. However, we must add a note of caution as to watching the watchers. Legal counsel must ascertain if cannabis policies slant more towards enabling cannabis use by particularly hard working, overly stressed and easily swayed HR departments. And staff in general.


  1. Look for memos containing chaotic numbering systems.

If the cannabis memo from the HR department starts with a rambling introduction, and the rest of memo includes numbering systems similar to





then rest assured the duty to draft the memo should be sourced out to another department.


  1. Unusual Training Locales

Training seminars in tropical locations are nothing new. However, if HR insists upon going to local tropical greenhouses and conservatories, then the business planning sessions may not deal with your particular business and may deal more with hydroponics. Insist upon the rooms with no windows and open doors for informative PowerPoint presentations instead.


  1. The HR department becomes overly familiar with legislation

In this situation, not only does the HR department know the federal and provincial cannabis legislation better than the legal department, but HR also knows far more about regulations regarding neonics pesticides and fertilizer licensing procedures. Once again facilitating hydroponics.


  1. Occupational Health and Safety Compliance increases substantially

Normally, the proper use of safety glasses, white work overalls and plastic gloves should be encouraged as this increases workplace safety. However, if you see such a person wearing all this equipment in your downtown law office, and you know someone already removed all the asbestos from the ceiling, then you must investigate for a potential grow op.


  1. All of the Alcohol and Drug Policies have been reviewed and expanded


A review of existing policies needs to cover the proper and legal use of cannabis. If the next policy iteration includes new a process, various unknown ingredients and ends with the words “bake at 350 for 45 minutes”, then rest assured this is not a work related process. This could be a chocolate brownie cannabis delivery system process.


  1. Staff Benefits have been amended

Increasing staff benefits provide organizational motivation. If your organization includes a cafeteria, then be observant for subtle changes. A cafeteria express line which only handles ‘munchies’ enables cannabis use.


  1. International Travel

Needless to say, travel to the US with cannabis would be prohibited, as would admitting to using cannabis, investing in cannabis companies or even having a Bob Marley song  on your smart phone. However, be on the lookout for new travel costs under the designation of ‘Mule reimbursement”.


  1. Cannabis Use within certain limits

Other organizations have a range of 8 hours, being fit for duty, or 28 days depending upon the function. If the rule then becomes more like no partaking within 28 feet of the front door, then the rules may be a bit too lenient.


  1. Discriminatory Use


Continued use of medical cannabis depends once again on the job function. If the cannabis impacts on the person doing the job are unknown, then the employer only has to go so far in the duty to accommodate. However, look out for any discrimination if the HR policies mandate cannabis use for those in highly stressful, unpredictable and treacherous roles such as dealing with people constantly. Like HR staff. You may have a discriminatory policy.




[i]  “‘Got to Get You into My Life’ was one I wrote when I had first been introduced to pot,” Paul McCartney told Barry Miles for the 1997 book Paul McCartney: Many Years from Now.


The Cannabis Act


Sittin’ downtown in a railway station

One toke over the line.

Brewer and Shipley


Things surely change. Or at least circle back to where they first started. Of course, I refer to the Cannabis Act, which allows the legal use of marijuana subject to various conditions and regulations. I suggest reading the act before celebrating any newfound freedoms since you need to focus. Speaking of which, this now allows the federal government to focus its legislative powers against an even more addictive, notorious and dangerous drug. Sugar.


How will cannabis legalization affect Canadian Society? Recent stats suggest that five million Canadians use cannabis at least once a month. We could expect perhaps a 20% increase after legalization.  This column intends to examine this question over a four part series, more or less depending upon how the home grow-op works out. However, by maintaining focus, we intend to cover the history, the legislation, the potential impacts, and some guessing on what the future might hold.


Firstly, how did most of us become so conservative (old-fogie)? Cannabis can be found in various forms throughout various millennia. Cannabis use dates back to at least the third millennium BCE when the plant was valued for its use for fiber, food, medicine and for its psychoactive properties in recreation and religion. Hemp fibers could be found in 10,000-year-old Chinese pottery. For the record, industrial hemp contains far less of the psychoactive drug THC. So like members of the senate, cannabis has been around for a while.


In Canada, drug regulation started back in 1908. Here Mackenzie King, then DM of Labour, produced a report, which culminated in the Opium Act. This same King instead partook in spiritualism and mediums to stay in contact with the deceased. Once again showing that drugs were not required for mind-expanding exercises.


Shortly after this, a type of moral panic began. Emily Murphy contributed to this panic somewhat through her writing The Black Candle. Some of her writings under the pen name Janey Canuck made their way into McLean’s. Including some dubious stereotypes and questionable anecdotes, she pushed for the cannabis ban. Under the chapter “Marahuna-A New Menace” she points out there are three ways out from the regency of this addiction:

“1st-Insanity, 2nd-Death, 3rd-Abandonment. This is assuredly a direful trinity…”


She leaves us on the triceratop’s three-pointed horned dilemma. We would only point out that this appears to be have been written before Canada imported the letter ‘J’ from other members of the commonwealth, and the title bears a striking IP infringement by a later contender…Lucas’ “The Phantom Menace”. We assume no cause of action exists since at least 20 years have passed since its release. Mind you, some still harbour the thought of a legal process to eliminate Jar Jar Binks.


Other historians such as Catherine Carstairs question Murphy’s ‘contribution’ towards the war on drugs. More than likely the prohibition came from when the Director of the Federal Division of Narcotic Control returned from the discussion for control of the drug at the League of Nations. This should not be confused with the DC Justice League. Although those superheroes would have a tough time since the drug use problem would appear to be so diffuse. Beyond Superman. Perhaps Wonder Woman?


Cannabis finally made the big leagues by being included on the restricted list with the 1923 Narcotics Drug Act. As with all legislation, you would think that this then solved the problem, but use of cannabis continued to grow along with the number of prosecutions.


Of course, no discussion of an ethical dilemma would be complete without acknowledging “Tell Your Children!”, or even more regretfully known as “Reefer Madness”. Produced by a church group in 1936 as a morality fable, Dwain Esper purchased the film, and by adding some additional salacious scenes, showed it on the exploitation circuit. Admittedly, I did not even realize that this was a thing until I looked it up. But in any event, critics ranked it as the worse movie ever made. The movie dramatizes how marijuana use leads to madness, murder and mayhem. The movie resurfaced as a satire for cannabis policy reform. The new colorized version now has color of the exhaled smoke reflecting the emotion of the person, green, purple etc. Pretty awesome.


In the 60’s, the drug culture surged owing to the hippie psychedelic ethos at time. This conclusion sprung from the Senate Special Committee on Illegal Drugs. Considering what the senate probably looked liked at the time, sprung probably does not capture the situation. You should insert whatever verb comes to mind when a rusty machine attempts to move forward on something. Crank perhaps.


The medical case for cannabis made its way in the Ontario Court of Appeal in R v. Parker. The Supreme Court in R v. Malmo-Levine and R v. Caine in 2003 confirmed that the federal government had the authority to criminalize cannabis. This was unanimous which is equivalent to the court saying ‘Of course the feds can legislate this. What have you been smoking?’


The decriminalization initiative crept forward with the LeDain report in 1972 suggesting removing criminal penalties. In 2003, Chrétien did attempt to decriminalize possession by legislating that 15 gms and under would only result in a fine. However, this doobie attempt eventually went out. Dubious. I meant dubious.


On a bit of a somber note, we need to mention Huxley’s Brave New World. Written in 1931, he writes about a dystopian future based on technology and drugs, particularly Soma. “The perfect drug. Euphoric, narcotic, pleasantly hallucinant, All the advantages of Christianity and alcohol; none of their defects. Take a holiday from whatever reality you like, you come back without so much as a headache or a mythology. Stability was practically assured.” That is great writing. I wish I paid more attention in high school. Sorry Mr. Pratt.


In any event, Huxley was not so much writing about cannabis, as about humankind’s ability to be distracted from looking out for tyranny. So perhaps in between partaking, we should keep watching Trump and keep a firmer bloodshot eye on Ford. Notwithstanding.


photo by Michael Fischer





Climate Change Coming to a province near you. Pan-Canadian Redux


Ah, you don’t believe

we’re on the eve

of destruction

Barry McGuire


For climate change, now might be the time to believe in case you have any doubts. NASA recently recorded CO2 to be at 408 parts per million. The previous high came in at 300 ppm over 300,000 years ago. We have to look back 3 million years to see carbon levels comparable to today. But then, temperatures were about 2 degrees higher than pre-industrial time and sea levels were about 15-25 metres higher than today. If the climate acted like the stock market, then 300,000 years ago compares to 1929 stock market levels before the crash and the present compares to dot-com market valuation levels. The point being that the repercussions of those lofty levels lingered for years afterwards. Climate wise, we can anticipate several centuries before things start to normalize again.


We will likely zoom right past those ancient levels. If you have doubts, then the UN has some good peer reviewed studies indicating that things may be a bit worse than they seem.



I mentioned the increasing carbon levels to give a sense of scale of what appears to be occurring. Personkind always tends to push problems off into the future in order to avoid the present cost. This became the constant theme since the early eighties when countries could not reach a conclusion on how to deal with the increasing carbon in the atmosphere. Back then, there seemed to be a great deal of confidence that we would be able to innovate to create cost effective solutions to the problem in the distant future. Moreover, that distant future is suddenly here. A cost effective solution may have been true had we been working on the problem a bit more, but subsidies for new less carbon intensive technologies have waxed and waned. We pushed back even further the practical application of the innovations we should have started back in the 90s.


The climate change issue came onto the science scene several decades ago. The world finally managed to agree on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change back in 1992 after many attempts of trying to do something. This framework provided for the implementation through the Kyoto Protocol. Canada finally dropped out of the protocol seeing that we would not meet our stated obligations mainly due to dithering by the governments at the time. In any event, without China or the USA signing on, the protocol would not finally solve the problem of rising carbon emissions.


With the 2015 Paris Agreement, most of world again agreed on the need to do something. Albeit on a non-binding basis. Here the Canadian government agreed to decrease emissions 30% below 2005 levels by 2030. Canada stepped up with the pan-Canadian Framework and later the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act. The framework uses carbon pricing, complimentary climate actions, adaptation and innovation to address the problem


Economists generally agree that adding a price to carbon can be the most effective and efficient way to reduce emissions as opposed to command and control regulation. This price signal assists in the modification of behaviours as businesses and individuals slide towards less carbon intensive behaviours. Some economists now wonder if carbon pricing may not be the panacea everyone hoped. So far, the end objective of stopping the increase in carbon emissions has not yet occurred as hoped.


The federal GHG Act provides a backstop approach in that the Act only applies if a province did not pass a similar piece of legislation that would allow the federal government to reach its objectives under the Paris Agreement. To avoid the federal backstop, any provincial system should then obtain the same level of reductions as would have been achieved under the federal system.


The GHG Act charges regulated emitters for excess carbon emissions at a rate of $20 per tonne in 2019 and this rate increases annually to $50 per tonne.


Ontario used to have about the best carbon pricing policy in Canada. Their cap and trade program integrated nicely with the Western Climate Initiative with California and Quebec.


Doug Ford promised to rid Ontario of this tax, which it never really had in the first place, but semantics aside, he intends to contest the federal government’s jurisdiction in applying a carbon tax. Again, the GHG Act uses ‘charge’, but even more semantics. Residents in Ontario shall live in interesting times for the next few years. Ontario joined Saskatchewan’s challenge to the carbon tax, and Ontario commenced its own challenge. Most legal scholars feel the challenge will not succeed and the other provinces declined to join in. However, since politicians do keep their promises, Ford will bring all available resources to this event, which may proceed at a receding glacial pace.


In the meantime, the Ontario government took a number of steps to dismantle the existing system starting with stating that emission allowances can no longer be traded. Although businesses purchased $2.8 billion in credits, Ontario does not anticipate reimbursing businesses anywhere near that amount. After all, businesses operated during this time. Any funds allocated to purchase unused emission reduction credits might add to incremental greenhouse gases (go up in smoke, so to speak). They have also canceled any future rebates on their clean technology programs and other innovation technology. They recently passed legislation allowing them to cap compensation for the cancellation of the White Pines windfarm program.


As of January 2019, the federal GHG Act will start to apply to apply to all provinces that do not have comparable legislation in order to reduce their emissions within the province. Ford opened the door to the carbon charge himself instead of the homegrown policy. This does allow him the luxury of pointing to how the federal government is now imposing this carbon charge and it is out of the hands of the province. The province can take all the benefits and none of the blame as the federal government then returns the carbon charge funds back to the various provinces. If Ontario simply returns the funds back to those incurring the cost, then the entire carbon-pricing concept can get lost.


Ontario will now face a higher carbon charge of $20 per tonne increasing to $50 tonne rather than the $18 tonne in 2016 dollars as suggested by Ontario’s policy analysts. The Ontario government would appear to be bringing in more revenue with less effort on their side. At least they fought the good fight and can sit back and allow the revenues to pour in. The federal government’s $420 million transfer to Ontario under the Low Carbon Economy Leadership fund may in jeopardy since the feds do not appreciate where Ontario is leading.



Carbon pricing maybe too little too late as climate change incidents start to accelerate. Ontario just recently announced that it will introduce a regulatory plan for reducing greenhouse gases in the province, but they will not commit to hitting the federal government’s targets. This lack of commitment allows the federal charge to start January 1st. Perhaps Ontario’s $1 beer will alleviate the heat and take everyone’s minds off their ever-increasing climate related problems.