Nate Glubish of Kenneyland
August 23rd, 2020
We are still awaiting Prothonotary Tabib’s foreclosure. As you may recall, Proconsul Tabib is expected to Rule that her civil service colleagues have “won” their case without all the fuss and bother of actually having to argue it, or having a Hearing, or even being inside a courtroom, or allowing me the right to defend myself.
So, as we wait, it might entertain you to learn of the absurd amount of effort thus far expended in dealing with the Province of Alberta on Manson’s Law. We covered Solicitor General Schweitzer previously; this time we deal with Alberta Queen’s Printer. Here we go….
On June 17, 2019, I wrote to Service Alberta, the Ministry responsible for Queen’s Printer copyright.
I advised of Mason’s Law, it’s contradiction with Queen’s Printer law, and requested their response “advising of Queen’s Printer intentions either to comply with Manson’s Law on private ownership [of legislation] or to continue authorizing public access to legislation.”
Easy, right? Well, not so fast.
The Minister responsible for Alberta Queen’s Printer is Nate Glubish. Fretting that the civil service would intervene with the Minister, I also wrote to Glubish directly on the same date. In my note I enclosed the inquiry to his Department, saying;
“We have a mutual challenge dealing with the Supreme Court decision. Your Department is presently considering its response.
“There are some quick and politically painless options to handle this […] some external to Departmental consideration […] I’m pleased to discuss these with you or your staff.
“The FCA Ruling is now law, and as QP is now in conflict, and as my company is now caught in the middle, we both have interest in resolving this quickly.
“Could we schedule a discussion for later this week?”
That got the Department moving more quickly. Two days later, the Department called me. One of Minister Glubish’s staff took it upon herself to remind me of my insignificance (relative to her incalculable importance) in a memorably contemptuous, condescending and outrightly obnoxious phone call. She was rude.
Who was I to trespass on her valuable time? Well, I did manage to finish a couple of sentences without interruption, but these were the exception. When I broached the matter of a meeting…
“There will be no meeting with the Minister or any staff member.” She said this in quite a huff.
Ah, alright then.
Instead of meeting to sort the problem, “a letter would be issued to me in the next three days” explaining the Department’s decision.
What was the decision?
That was none of my business, apparently, for she wouldn’t tell me, that’s what the letter was for.
Ah, alright then.
I discussed this mysterious looming letter with a government relations colleague, saying that “I suspect that this will be another meaningless pound-sand letter.”
On June 24, two days after the three-day deadline, a Deputy of Service Alberta, the guy apparently responsible for Queen’s Printer, called to advise that they wouldn’t issue the letter within three days after all. Now the letter will come “sometime before August.” Oh, and he wouldn’t say what was in the letter.
Ah, alright then.
Sensing the ever so slight prospect of civil service interference, I wrote to Hal Danchilla, Premier Kenney’s confidante and personal advisor. I had his coordinates through other colleagues who’d been pushing Kenney on this file for some years already.
“Just a head’s up on a big liability hitting Kenny’s in-bin,” I began. Then I walked Danchilla through the Manson’s Law Ruling, the conflict with Queen’s Printer copyright, and the impossibility of my company complying with these two contradictory laws.
Then I noted that Alberta had already been paying the Federal civil service to use Alberta’s legislation. That is, Alberta has already legitimized privately owned law; they’ve legitimized Manson’s Law. Then the biggie;
“Caught that? The Government itself can no longer use law without the permission of whomever lobbied for it. Govt can’t inspect a gas plant, for instance, or certify ongoing compliance. Yet these activities are legal requirements for operation. See the problem?”
And in case he didn’t see it;
“Who lobbies for energy law? How about environmental legislation? Pipeline regulation? Remediation regs? Hal, the new ‘owners’ of law are the outfits Vivian Krause has been researching. These folks now have the power to run the most expensive shakedown operation, or to completely halt whatever economic activity they don’t like.”
Danchilla studiously ignored my inquiry. I mean, nothing folks, he wouldn’t so much as acknowledge having received it.
Then, on July 28, I received a call from a well-placed government relations consultant in Edmonton. He saw the whole Manson’s Law saga as absurd and he thought it was a big political landmine sure to go off at some horridly inconvenient time. This guy shared some inside info and suggested a new path into the Provincial Cabinet.
“Here are [redact]’s contacts. His chief of staff […] is a friend of mine who will take my calls. Let me connect with him over the next day or two.”
So I waited, but a day or two in government usually means three weeks. At the two-week mark, on Aug 12 and while impatiently waiting, I received the letter that Glubish’s office had promised within three days. It had only taken eight weeks.
“Thank you for your recent inquiry regarding the Alberta Queen’s Printer Copyright,” it began. “The Federal Court of Appeal confirmed in P.S. Knight Co. Ltd. and Gordon Knight v Canadian Standards Association 2018 FCA 222, that copyright in a work created by a third party, which is [passed] into law, is owned by the third party who developed and published the work.”
Yes, that’s Manson’s Law. But then…
“The Alberta Queen’s Printer Copyright and Permission Statement is consistent with the Federal Court of Appeal decision.”
Really? Wow! For comparison, this is the text of Queen’s Printer Copyright;
“Alberta Queen’s Printer permits any person to reproduce Alberta’s statutes and regulations without seeking permission and without charge”.
How did Glubish’s staff defend the seeming contradiction? Said the Department;
“The Alberta Queen’s Printer Copyright and Permission Statement only applies to the statutes and regulations directly provided on the Queen’s Printer website or in print”.
I forwarded this response to my newfound government relations friend. He thought it was hilarious. Why?
Because Queen’s Printer itself defines what it applies to. Witness;
“Alberta Queen’s Printer holds copyright on behalf of the Government of Alberta in right of Her Majesty the Queen for all Government of Alberta legislation.”
So, it’s more double-talk. The legislation says one thing, the court says the opposite, and the Department wants me to adjudicate between them. This is the position of Darren Stadel, the author of the letter, and the “Executive Lead, Enterprise Information Management Technology Services, Service Alberta.”
Look, the bottom line is that I can’t possibly comply with two contradictory laws at the same time. Either legislation is private property or it’s not; it cannot be the one thing and the other at the same time!
I replied to Stadel on the same day.
“Thank you for the Decision that your Department has provided. While I appreciate the Decision, I note that its wording is contradictory.”
I deserve a prize for diplomacy here, I think.
“According to the Decision, ‘Alberta Queen’s Printer Copyright only applies to the statutes and regulations directly provided on the Queen’s Printer website or in print.’ As you know, Alberta’s Electrical Code Regulation is contained within the Safety Codes Act. Both documents are directly provided on the Queen’s Printer website, as below.” And I furnished links to both so he could verify them.
“Likewise, both documents are directly provided in print by the Queen’s Printer, as below.” Again, I furnished the links.
“The Decision of your Department, as presently drafted, affirms that Queen’s Printer Copyright applies to the statutes and regulations directly provided on the Queen’s Printer website or in print, therefore including the electrical laws of Alberta.
“Further, your reference to ‘third-party materials’ does not align with the affirmation of your Decision or the current wording of Alberta Queen’s Printer Copyright, as noted here.” Again, more direct links.
Then I went for the kill.
“As you know, whether the text of law was provided by MLAs or civil servants or members of the public or other third parties does not affect the status of that text as part of law, and Alberta Queen’s Printer Copyright declares that all ‘Alberta Statutes and Regulations’ are covered by the authorities noted therein. Therefore, all Alberta law is covered; only that text which is not law is not covered. I assume you’re not suggesting that electrical law is not law.
“In this, could you kindly confirm that Alberta Queen’s Printer Copyright applies to the statutes and regulations directly provided by the Queen’s Printer website and / or in print?”
And feeling that Stadel would benefit from some inspiration…
“Given our time constraints, please be advised that we need your confirmation by the end of Aug 16th and, in the absence of reply, we will conclude that Alberta’s electrical laws are indeed covered by Alberta Queen’s Printer, as outlined above and as noted in your Decision, and will consider ourselves free to conduct ourselves accordingly.”
Unpleased, he was.
On Aug 15, one day before our deadline, I received a curt response;
“We will not be responding to any future correspondence on this matter.”
But all was not lost. I was still pursuing the leads furnished by my newfound government relations friend. Indeed, I’d had some very positive discussions with his connections and, credit where it’s due, I said so in updating this friend.
“I had a positive discussion on Monday with TJ Keil at Minister Hunter’s office. As you know, TJ also has substantial trades and construction background, he gave every impression of engagement with, and understanding of, the basic issue.”
Ok, Minister Hunter is the Minister for Red Tape Reduction. Yes, that’s actually the name of his Ministry. With a name like that, you’d assume Manson’s Law would be in his crosshairs.
“TJ will be approaching a colleague at Service Alberta early next week to discuss resolution options. FYI, Service Alberta responded to me in Trudeau-esque double talk, affirming both the FCA Ruling on private law and the current AB Queen’s Printer copyright on legislation. I’ll forward their response in a chaser for your reference (and entertainment).”
Then, a breakthrough. Remember that Glubish’s office was refusing any sort of meeting with the Minister, or even with a staff member, or even presumably with the guy who gets the coffee, for the guy who gets the tea? Well, I was quietly advised by a clean civil servant that Glubish was opening a new constituency office in Edmonton on Oct 23. The grand opening hoo-haw was open to the public and the Minister would be there, so I could force a meeting in person, get past the civil service gatekeepers.
I went for it. I drove from Calgary to Sherwood Park (takes about four hours each way), donned my spiffy suit (all such meetings require spiffy suits), and marched into the building.
Perhaps a half-dozen constituents were hobb-nobbing with the Minister when I arrived. When I had my turn, I explained the problem and, as expected, the Minister had no knowledge whatsoever of the file. His civil servants had decided to conceal the problem from him in order to protect civil service revenues.
I briefly explained Manson’s Law; Minister Glubish was astounded. He now knew he had responsibility for Queen’s Printer copyright (this was news to him) and that Manson’s Law was massively in conflict with it. He invited me into a private office to exchange contact information. He committed to a follow-up meeting “in the next week or two.” With the civil service out of the way, Glubish got it.
Then, on Oct 25, I received a call from Christine Mayovsky, Glubish’s Constituency Manager. Apparently Minister Glubish discussed the matter with his civil servants. The civil servants offered to help the Minister. You know, reduce his workload and his worry. They would handle everything.
On advice from his staff, Glubish’s office referred me to Jamie Mozeson at Service Alberta. This is the same woman that the Minister for Red Tape Reduction had been working with already. But it’s all ok, I was assured that she “will get back to me at some point.”
Well, Mozeson didn’t get back to me. Instead, I got a call from Andrew Koning, Policy Advisor to the Minister. Andrew said that since the legal unit had issued their response back in August (this being the peculiar statement that there was no contradiction between QP copyright and Manson’s Law), then on this basis the Minister was reneging on his meeting commitment and the Department considered the matter closed.
I sought help from my newfound government relations friend. His response…
“Sigh, even the brave ministers are chickening out. […] You are likely screwed.”
On Oct 30, I responded to Koning, not to persuade him of anything, but to take away his deniability. It was a sizeable email, but within that bulk I included the following;
“I noted in our call that as my company is domiciled in Alberta it is obligated to comply with Alberta Queen’s Printer Copyright while simultaneously obligated to comply with Federal Court Rulings in defiance of that Copyright. I noted the impossibility of compliance with two mutually exclusive and contradictory requirements. You replied that you understood the situation but that the Government of Alberta intended to take no corrective action.
“In this, I understand that Service Alberta and its Minister, Nate Glubish, on behalf of the Government of Alberta, is fully aware of the ramifications of Manson’s Law, is fully aware of the conflict between Manson’s Law and Alberta Queen’s Printer Copyright, is fully aware of its payment obligations under Manson’s Law, and in this context has decided to do take no corrective action going forward. As you put it, ‘the matter is closed’.”
And that’s where we landed with Service Alberta.
You know folks, the whole meeting with Glubish took less than six minutes. I mean, that includes the walk to his office and the walk back to the parking lot. Six minutes. Eight hours of driving for a six-minute meeting. And all that accomplished absolutely nothing.
A couple of take-aways;
First, the civil service is the first enemy of democratic and civil society. Yeah, it’s a confrontational statement, but it’s not so controversial as it once was. And second; this is the scale of effort we’re making to make things right, and we’re going to these lengths not just on this one front. We have others, and we have direct control of some of them.
And CSA doesn’t know about them yet.
And we’re waiting on Tabib.
And when she drops her hammer, we’ll drop ours.