As city engineer I went to court on a few occasions, either as a witness or to support one of our guys. On one occasion our case was delayed, and I sat through the case before ours. That was in the days of regulated monopoly trucking, and it seems a local trucker had hauled a transformer to Ear Falls. A trucking firm from the Golden East claimed that was rightfully his job, and he wanted to be paid his usual fee for the job even though the local guy had already done it for a third of his price. The eastern trucker and Ontario Hydro had each sent a Toronto lawyer, $2000 suit, $200 tie, to argue the case. Both sides made very complicated arguments in multi-syllable words, pretty much wasted on the presiding JP, a political appointee. Don’t remember who won; don’t think it had anything to do with the facts.
In another case a couple of years ago, my wife was rear-ended by a drunk driver who had enough of a record that he faced jail time. She was summonsed as a witness, so we went to court. We could tell the defence lawyer was from Toronto, $2000 suit, $200 tie, imperious manner. He got up and made what seemed to me a trivial objection. The clearly intimidated young prosecutor sat looking thunderstruck; the JP on the bench looked relieved he would not have to send the kid to jail and dismissed the case. Gossip was that the lawyer is famous; he goes around the province keeping drunk drivers out of jail for $15000 a pop.
In an even older case, one side was represented by a high end, successful, confident trial lawyer; well-funded and well-researched with stacks of documents. The other side was represented by a harried-looking fellow who was unable to refute any of the material put forward. The jury seemed disinterested, and the confident guy won.
All of which goes to illustrate that too often cases are won by bravado, the guy with the most fashionable haircut and the most confident manner wins. The guy able to present the most material, whether or not it really is germane or accurate, wins because his opponent cannot afford the time needed to refute Mr. Wonderful.
That older case was when Oliver Mowat, slick trial lawyer and Premier of Ontario at the time, appeared before the British Privy Council to persuade them that our Sunset Country ought to be part of Ontario. His opponent was a staff lawyer appointed by Canada to argue we are not part of Ontario. Not a flamboyant trial lawyer. Appointed too late with too few resources to be able to refute the grossly inaccurate mapping and inappropriate meaningless precedents that Mowat used to make his case. The Privy Council thought it didn’t matter, it’s all just bush anyway, and awarded the case to Ontario. Perhaps based on Mowat’s personality, or his nice tie, or perhaps the fix was already in.
In any event a dopey decision that utterly changed Canada as it resulted in fewer, bigger provinces and a huge imbalance in the size of provinces. While Mowat may have been acting in his perception of Ontario’s best interest, a good argument can be made that the decision was bad for Canada and therefore bad for Ontario in the long run.
Perhaps there is a bright young lawyer out there who could make his reputation by appealing this decision. Whether or not he wins, he will be famous. If he wins, we will gain by being freed from the weight of Ontario holding us down. If he loses, at least it would publicize our Separatist sentiments as the forgotten rump on Ontario and that might be helpful.