We are obviously very happy with the decision in Tran v. MPSEP, and although it left some unanswered questions it provides some useful language that will hopefully help to push things forward in other areas. We were very fortunate to have a lot of help from a very collegial bar and some great interveners. The amazing people willing to give freely of their time and expertise to assist in substantive ways really is one of the best aspects of this area of the law, and with the risk of forgetting some of the many people involved in taking a case like this up through the courts, it is important to acknowledge the substantial contributions made by a large number of people.
First and foremost, Aris Daghighian took the lead from the beginning in drafting the original submissions to the officer and has been truly inspiring to work with at all levels of court. Although love and family pulled him to Toronto, we still secretly hope Aris will someday find his way back to the West Coast.
Erin Roth (who coincidentally came out west from Toronto at just the right time) did a lot of the heavy lifting as the case went to Ottawa, and in particular putting together what turned out to be a rather persuasive argument on retrospectivity. We are lucky Erin has found a home here.
Garth Barriere, who helped draft our leave and appeal factums, is one of great appellate gurus and we are always fortunate to collaborate with him when we can.
The support staff in our offices and those of our agent were as always invaluable. In particular Fabiola Escobedo in our office (now, sadly, with Crown counsel) did the bulk of the work in coordinating the multiple filings, edits and compilations at various levels of court throughout the process. I am always humbled by the amazing people who do the crucial support work that makes litigation on this scale possible.
A great deal of time and effort was taken by many colleagues to review drafts and provide input at various stages of the process – including Jennifer Ellis, Erica Olmstead, Jared Will, Peter Shams, Micah Rankin, Barb Jackman, Andrew Brouwer, Angus Grant, Sean Rehaag, Paul Daly and numerous others who have taken the time to chat about the case over the years. A number of law students gave their time and energy to do substantial pieces of research, including Zohal Arghandewal and CARL students Amelia Philpott and Samuel Gauthier who did much of the research relied upon by the Court in paragraph 27 of the decision.
Two colleagues really stood out in taking the time to work through difficult issues in the appeal. Audrey Macklin spent hours on the phone and over email guiding us through the intricacies of standard of review and the administrative law issues that the Court ultimately ducked. I can only assume that the Court was not able to reach consensus on these issues and we will have to wait for Audrey to be appointed to clear up the mess that currently is standard of review.
Mario Bellissimo shared his work on retrospectivity and was generous with his time in helping us wrap our heads around the complex issues arising from it. Discussions with him really helped to focus and clarify the underlying issues.
We were also very fortunate to participate in the Supreme Court Advocacy Institute which is an amazing programme for those arguing before the Court. Michael Feder did a great job of setting us up with a top-notch panel of Nikos Harris, Eric Gottardi and Andrew Nathanson. The insights that came from our practice session with them proved invaluable and avoided what could have been some fatal mistakes before the Court.
Of course, this scale of litigation would not have been possible without the support of Rod Holloway and the appeals section at the BC Legal Services Society. The funding was partly possible due to assistance from Mike Bossin and the others at the Community Legal Services Ottawa Centre at who acted as our agents in Ottawa and were a great help throughout the process.
In the end, taking a case like this to Ottawa is truly a collaborative effort, and it is humbling to see the devoted people who freely give their time and expertise for the sole purpose of pushing the law in the direction of justice.