John Callaghan

October 21st, 2019

Last year, the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) hired a new lawyer.  More accurately, last year they used even more of your tax dollars to hire yet another lawyer.

The CSA hired John Callaghan, a senior partner at Gowlings. 

Callaghan’s assignment was to present CSA’s case at the Supreme Court Keatley hearing last March.  It’s revealing that CSA didn’t trust their main counsel, Kevin Sartorio, with a Supreme Court performance.  Heck no Martha, that’s why they got Callaghan.

He’s a senior guy, this Callaghan guy.  He handles the Law Society’s government relations practice, he’s something of an expert in class action lawsuits, and he’s been practicing law since the reign of Diocletian.  He’s also been a Bencher.

The Law Society of Ontario (previously known by the more dignified “Law Society of Upper Canada”) regulates the legal profession in Ontario.  The toffs who run the Law Society are called Benchers.

This is where Callaghan’s background gets interesting.  And revealing.

Recall that the Law Society was outed recently for foisting a new and jarringly undemocratic regulation affecting all of their members (that is, the lawyers of Ontario).  The Society decided to require that its members express agreement with the officially approved opinions of the Law Society.  They’re actually engaging in compelled speech and controlled beliefs.  It’s true, and they’ve even announced “compliance measures” to ensure that all lawyers under their power are expressing the correct thoughts.  Of course, as the National Post noted, “the compliance measures are undefined [and the Society] will engage in reactive measures only when necessary.”  As these punishments are undefined, the Society is free to treat people however they please.  And being the governing body of the entire profession -and you can’t practice law in Ontario without the say-so of the Society- means that the people who run the Society had given themselves the power to deny others the right to work in their profession for the crime of not agreeing with the opinions of the Benchers.

This is what despots do.  The National Post was blunt; they called it “totalitarian.”

John Callaghan was one of the Benchers backing compelled speech.  He was there at the big vote, in the room, lobbying for this disgraceful work.  And at some level, the Benchers must have known it was disgraceful, for they would never tolerate anyone compelling their speech.

Said one Bencher on the day of that fateful vote; “Historically the law has been used as a tool of oppression and we still feel the effects of this today.” 

Yeah, I’d know nothing about that, obviously.  But you’ll note that the nature of what they were doing wasn’t lost on them.  Oppression, the act of forcing someone against their will, is the essence of the compelled speech rule.  But they pressed on because, ultimately, they wanted power over people for themselves and, naturally, they planned to exempt themselves from their own regulations.

As one Bencher said before the vote; “The pace of change is so much more rapid today, and that arc is bending toward what we want.”

It must’ve been quite a meeting.  Callaghan’s contribution was pure mush.  He’s like a legal version of Justin Trudeau, in that his priority is being on record backing popular positions -virtue signalling, without regard to substance or ethics or consideration of consequence.  And hey, if the Benchers exempt themselves from their own rules, perhaps consequences don’t much matter.

Said Callaghan before the vote; “When I arrived and saw [the compelled speech] motion, I thought it was an important issue of governance.  […] I began to think that there are substantive issues that need to be addressed”.  Then he did a little wander through the gardens of subjectivity; “You know, prejudice in the law, legal world, has gone back, I can’t say four-hundred years [and so] we ought to take the time.  We owe it to the constituency, we owe it to the people in this room, the people who have come and watched.”

Right.  Then he rambled at length about his lawyer father, an elderly Jewish friend, and how “blessed” he’s been in the profession, and all this without making any mention whatsoever of the question under discussion; whether it is acceptable to force people to voice support for opinions they may not share.  See?  No substance; all signalling.

And Callaghan even campaigns on virtue signalling. 

“I have been particularly proud of the recent efforts that [the Law Society] has made to enhance equality and diversity within the profession.”  That’s Callaghan’s campaign statement for re-election as a Bencher.  So, he’s proud of compelled speech.  “I actively promote, mentor and train racialized lawyers who work [...] at Gowlings.”  Awwwe, isn’t that nice?  He’s a nice whitey, stooping down to help the lesser peoples like that. 

You know folks, treating people who look different as somehow less capable or valuable is what racism is.  It doesn’t matter how you dress it up.  People notice this.

“If re-elected,” said Callaghan, “I pledge that I will continue to work hard to make sure that we have a profession that is independent and that is a source of pride for our members.  I hope you will re-elect me to do that work.”

It seems the lawyers of Ontario noticed Callaghan’s attitude and his conduct.  He wasn’t re-elected; he was punted.

That brings us to Callaghan’s oration before the Supreme Court, during the Keatley hearing in March of this year.

He started by referencing legislation, including the Statutory Instruments Act, likely hoping to leverage the significance of this Act while holding the contents within it as glossed over.  You see, this Act defines what law is in Canada.  It’s not a friendly Act for CSA.

Then saith Callaghan;  “Those Acts recognize […] that they are not copyright, there’s not a transfer of copyright to the government and that they remain copyrighted in the hands of the original owners.”

Of course, the Act does no such thing.  But Callaghan isn’t one to stress on facts when there’s so much virtue signalling to be done.

“A broad pronouncement,” meaning a clear, straightforward Ruling, “is not in the interest of the Canadian Standards Association [because] they bring different facts to the table.”  This is right down there with “my truth” vs. “your truth.”  Objective truth is tosh.

And finally; “In the case of the Canadian Standards Association, no copyright was ever intended to be transferred” to the Crown, and “other people have private copyright interests [in the text of law] that need to be protected.”

You see the argument?  Callaghan is affirming Manson’s Law, that legislation is privately owned by whomever drafted it, in this case CSA.  He’s arguing that anyone quoting from law is breaching copyright and should be, you know, smote.

Of course, there are all kinds of books that quote from the law.  It’s not criminal, it’s normal.  Consider the wide variety of legal commentaries, all quoting extensively from law, and all these quotations without attribution of authorship or payment of royalty to whomever lobbied for them.  There’s Martin’s Code, those of Carswell publishers, Evan Ross, Thompson Reuters, and on and on.

One specific example is a commentary entitled Class Actions Law and Practice, 2nd Edition.  From the bumf; “Canada’s leading experts in the field take you step-by-step through the procedure and hundreds of cases from across Canada”.  It’s just like a legal version of PS Knight’s Electrical Code Simplified, actually.  And just like Electrical Code Simplified, it quotes extensively from legislation.  “Legislation,” saith the bumf, from “Federal, Alberta, British Columbia [etc., -it lists a bunch of Provinces] and other statutes and other relevant legislation and rules are provided.”  That means quoted. 

This book quotes from the law.  Extensively.  In defiance of Manson’s Law.  That’s bad enough, but there’s one more awkward problem with it….

It’s written by John Callaghan.

Yup.  It seems that the rules Callaghan is trying to force on PS Knight are the same ones he’s exempting himself from.  And he’s profiting mightily from it.

Knight’s Code sold for sixty bucks; Callaghan sells his for $1,000.00.  Seriously!  And it’s not even bound; it’s loose-leaf, comes in a binder, like the syllabi you got for math class or phonics or swim club when you were eight. 

While Knight’s Code is embargoed under Manson’s Law, Callaghan and his three fellow authors are making a killing by doing what they’re killing me for doing.

One wonders how Callaghan and his civil service friends would handle it if they were forced to voice agreement with PS Knight opinions, or had their products banned while ours went unrestricted.  They’d likely think it criminal.  They mightn’t think that compelled speech or book banning was bad, but that they should be held to the same standard as the rest of us…  That would be nasty.

Said a frustrated Basil Fawlty;  “I shall visit you in the small hours and put a bat up your nightdress.”