Tony Wilson

Tony Wilson

Tony Wilson is a franchise, licensing, and intellectual property lawyer at Boughton in Vancouver and an adjunct professor at Simon Fraser University. He is a regular business law columnist with The Globe and Mail and other publications. He is also the author of Manage Your Online Reputation, a book written to guide individuals and businesses on how to monitor and protect their personal and corporate reputations on social media. The views expressed are strictly those of Tony Wilson and do not reflect the opinions of the Law Society of British Columbia, CBABC, or their respective members.

Column: Letter from Law Law Land
Monday, 01 December 2014 00:08

Prizes and booby prizes for 2014

b_150_0_16777215_00___images_stories_01-CANADIANLawyer_Columnists_tonywilson.jpgThe prize for something said by a lawyer in Canada in 2014 is this gem of a comment made to over 450 lawyers and judges in Toronto in October by my new comedic heroine, criminal lawyer Marie Henein, who emceed the event. “As criminal lawyers we represent people who have committed heinous acts. Acts of violence. Acts of depravity. Acts of cruelty. Or as Jian Ghomeshi likes to call it, ‘foreplay,’” (Bada-Boom). She now represents Jian Ghomeshi.
Monday, 27 October 2014 08:00

Showing leadership on a divisive issue

b_150_0_16777215_00___images_stories_01-CANADIANLawyer_Columnists_tonywilson.jpgThere’s a wonderful scene in the third season of Sherlock, where Benedict Cumberbatch, playing Sherlock Holmes, explains to Phillip Anderson, a Scotland Yard forensic expert, how the BBC’s favourite sleuth faked his own death.
Monday, 25 August 2014 08:00

Remembering The Guns of August

b_150_0_16777215_00___images_stories_01-CANADIANLawyer_Columnists_tonywilson.jpgAnyone who hasn’t read Barbara Tuchman’s Pulitzer prize-winning book from 1962, The Guns of August should read it this summer, which is coincidentally the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War.
Monday, 23 June 2014 08:00

What have the Romans ever done for us?

b_150_0_16777215_00___images_stories_01-CANADIANLawyer_Columnists_tonywilson.jpgOne of my favorite scenes in Monty Python’s Life of Brian begins with the question posed by the leader of a group of militants intent on ending Roman rule in Judea (played by John Cleese): “What have the Romans ever done for us?” he yells.
b_150_0_16777215_00___images_stories_01-CANADIANLawyer_Columnists_tonywilson.jpgGrowing up in the ’60s and ’70s, I watched more far more news than sports and I can recall, in varying degrees, the Cuban missile crisis, the Kennedy assassination(s), the Mercury and Gemini space missions, the U.S. civil rights movement, the Vietnam War, the moon landings, Watergate, and the Cold War; all through the lens of Walter Cronkite, Huntley and Brinkley, Harry Reasoner, and others on U.S. networks. I can’t recall anything newsworthy in Canada until the flag debate of 1965, the election of Pierre Trudeau in 1968, and the FLQ crisis in 1970; all of it broadcast on CTV and CBC.
b_150_0_16777215_00___images_stories_01-CANADIANLawyer_Columnists_tonywilson.jpgLast year, my assistant of six years came into my office and said: “My husband and I are moving to Edmonton.” Even though they lived in a condo in suburban New Westminster (coincidentally, the “burb” where I live), and the commute is only 30 minutes on the Skytrain, she and her husband wanted a house with a yard.
b_150_0_16777215_00___images_stories_01-CANADIANLawyer_Columnists_tonywilson.jpgAs I hastily write this from warm, tropical Cabo San Lucas, there are 14 e-mails in my inbox from friends and colleagues from Toronto telling me about the Great Ice Storm that covered the city and the fact they’ve all been without power for 75 hours. Some checked into nearby hotels for Christmas, presumably hotels with enough power to warm them up, give them light, and cook a turkey. I can only imagine what Stuart McLean will do to update “Dave Cooks A Turkey” when he does his Christmas story for 2014.
b_150_0_16777215_00___images_stories_01-CANADIANLawyer_Columnists_tonywilson.jpgThe National Post’s editor-at-large Diane Francis has just written a book called Merger Of The Century: Why Canada And The United States Should Become One Country, which I just finished.
Monday, 26 August 2013 14:12

The alternate universe

b_150_0_16777215_00___images_stories_01-CANADIANLawyer_Columnists_tonywilson.jpgWhat you need to appreciate about Vancouver in the summertime is that there's a general sense of “unreality” here, in part because many people think (or want to think) it's northern California, the Mediterranean Coast, or that area between Lugano, Switzerland and George Clooney’s house on Lake Como for a good part of the year.
Well, the big news in British Columbia last month had to be Premier Christy Clark making Ipsos-Reid, Angus Reid, and the entire political polling industry look like blithering idiots after she handily won the May 14 provincial election.
In fact, the pollsters may have looked more like characters out of Monty Python’s famous “Election Night Special” sketch from 1970.
In that sketch, pollsters and TV pundits go completely ga-ga about the swing, the swong, the Silly Party, the Sensible Party, and candidates with names like Jethro Q. Walrustitty and Tarquin Fin-tim-lin-bin-whin-bim-lim-bus-stop-F’tang-F’tang-Olé-Biscuitbarrel.
During our own Election Night Special, while I flipped channels between CBC and Global, I was waiting for at least one pollster to explain why the B.C. Liberals won when their industry led almost everyone in the province to think the NDP couldn’t lose even if party leader Adrian Dix “kicked a dog.”
I was hoping someone would say: “Well, the election went largely as I predicted . . . except the Liberals won. I think this is largely due to the number of votes cast.”
A month before the election, the captains of industry and the senior partners of Vancouver’s legal and accounting firms broke bread and canapés with shop stewards and union leaders in the massive Pacific Ballroom of the Hotel Vancouver, not only to hear Dix speak, but to ensure they were at least in the room seeming to be seen seeing Dix speak, and hoping Dix and his people would see them seeing him. It was like an episode of Veep.
Dix was trumped by many things. I suppose as the toiling masses collectively aged over the decades, they married, had a couple of kids, bought a house, and took out a whopping mortgage because there was enough work to “live the dream.” Maybe they wanted to save up for their retirement and their kids’ education. Maybe they wanted to buy a condo in Mexico or a place on the water.
But all this depends on the availability of continuous work doesn’t it?
So when Dix nixed expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline that ships oil from Edmonton to Burnaby, B.C., ostensibly because of environmental concerns (and to win back environmental New Democrats who were leaking — if not gushing — into the Green camp), his campaign may have run aground, and his comments may have angered members of the B.C. and Yukon Territories Building and Construction Trades Council, who were counting on the union jobs that the project would create.
Dix nixing the Kinder Morgan pipeline may well have threatened the aspirations (and credit worthiness) of what was once called the working class but might now be called the “mortgage paying” class.
Clearly, any politician who campaigns on a platform of “Let’s not build stuff anymore” might as well be campaigning on a platform of “Let’s not hire workers to build stuff anymore” or even, (at the risk of overstatement), “Private sector jobs that build stuff aren’t as environmentally nice as public sector jobs that don’t.”
Maybe the voters in growing regions in and around Kamloops, Kelowna, Langley, and Chilliwack have become the real centre of B.C.’s political culture, the east and west sides of Vancouver mattering less with each election. And post election statistics have revealed if the Green vote had gone to the NDP in marginal ridings, the NDP would have won.
But there you have it; the unbearable lightness of being green and a New Democrat. When the NDP campaigns for the green vote, workers will vote for their jobs.
But that’s May’s news. The big news in June is that The Donald was in Vancouver! Yes, Donald Trump was in town announcing he’s lending his name (and a tiny part of his ego) to a 63-storey tower on Georgia Street in the heart of the downtown core which was originally going to be a Ritz-Carleton before the crash.
“It will be one of the great buildings, not only in Canada, not only the United States, but anywhere in the universe,” he said. “It’s going to be that good.”
I won’t take potshots at Mr. Trump. He did a pretty good job of that himself in the last U.S. election with tweets like: “This election is a total sham . . . more votes equals a loss. . . we are not a democracy . . . we should have a revolution in this country.”
Of course, I can’t do nearly as well as Seth Meyers did at the 2011 White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner. With a cool Barak Obama sitting next to him, Meyers mocked Trump’s fixation on money and birth certificates and imagined how good a press secretary Trump could be: “Kim Jun Il is a loser — his latest rally was a flop. I feel bad for Ahmadinejad — the man wears a windbreaker, he has no class. I, on the other hand, sell my own line of ties. You can find them at Macy’s in the flammable section.”
Trump went home that night to his billions and his young supermodel wife, fuming mad. President Obama went home to the White House, and presided over Seal Team 6 taking out Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan.
But I won’t hold any of that against Trump. In fact I’m sure I’ll visit Vancouver’s Trump Tower from time to time for a drink or a meal or to admire now deceased architect Arthur Erickson’s magnificent “twisting” design. After all, Arthur Erickson designed it, not Trump.
But I’ll always wonder… should I bring my birth certificate?
Well, the big news in British Columbia last month had to be Premier Christy Clark making Ipsos-Reid, Angus Reid, and the entire political polling industry look like blithering idiots after she handily won the May 14 provincial election.
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