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
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.
b_150_0_16777215_00___images_stories_01-CANADIANLawyer_Columnists_tonywilson.jpg
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.
Monday, 22 April 2013 08:00

PST regime puts B.C. at a disadvantage

b_150_0_16777215_00___images_stories_01-CANADIANLawyer_Standard_photos_tonywilson.jpgAlthough I could speak today about the underfunding of B.C.’s courts, legal aid, and a recently released Angus Reid public opinion poll suggesting that British Columbians are dissatisfied with the justice system, this is, after all, supposed to be a light, entertaining, and fluffy column about legal practice on the west coast, and there are some topics that don’t lend themselves to my swordplay.
Monday, 25 February 2013 08:00

Food fight in Vancouver

b_150_0_16777215_00___images_stories_01-CANADIANLawyer_Columnists_tonywilson.jpgThe poorest postal code in Canada doesn’t want a trendy restaurant.
Monday, 31 December 2012 08:00

Sing the changes

b_150_0_16777215_00___images_stories_01-CANADIANLawyer_Columnists_tonywilson.jpgIf Paul McCartney can still sing Helter Skelter at 70, why should lawyers be retiring at 65?

Monday, 22 October 2012 10:55

The great debate

b_150_0_16777215_00___images_stories_01-CANADIANLawyer_Columnists_tonywilson.jpgWell, the monsoons have now arrived in Vancouver, Victoria, and the rest of la-la land after virtually no rain since “Junary” (the name given to that wet month between May and July that no one with any sense plans a wedding in).
Monday, 27 August 2012 12:25

The law of the sea

b_150_0_16777215_00___images_stories_01-CANADIANLawyer_Columnists_tonywilson.jpgI’m busy working on this piece from the middle of the Pacific Ocean on a 47-foot Beneteau; assisting in the delivery of this sailboat back to Victoria from Maui, where it — and its captain and crew — won their division in the bi-annual Vic-Maui Yacht Race. The Vic-Maui’s motto is “Challenge-Adventure-Teamwork”, which might be a tad oxymoronic if it applied to law firm partnerships and British Columbia politics.
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