424 THE ADVOCATE
VOL. 77 PART 3 MAY 2019
ver City Council, Ian quietly built an employment law practice, acting
mainly for independent trade unions.
Journalist Rod Mickleburgh, who covered the B.C. labour law scene for
many years, said this about Ian and his clientele in an article published in
They got good value for their money. Ian Donald was one of the best of
the union lawyers that flourished in those grand times … . He was also
among the most dignified, respected and principled individuals I
encountered during my many years on the beat.
Ian Donald was not a table-pounder. He questioned witnesses respectfully,
and his meticulously reasoned arguments were not heavy on rhetoric,
no matter how uphill the case. Despite representing unions with a
reputation for militancy, I’m not sure I heard him whisper even a word
of partisanship or express support for the often-radical posturing of his
clients. He was there to defend their rights, under the law. Much to my
dismay as a reporter looking for good quotes, he was as circumspect as,
well, a judge.
I well remember him withdrawing once from a case involving the
UFAWU, because he felt his client’s actions had compromised his
Ian’s integrity, known throughout the employment law community and
also reflected in his service to the labour law subsection of the CBA,
inevitably led to the next phase of his career: arbitration. Again, Rod Mickleburgh
had this to say in the same 2015 article:
The number of times he was chosen as a private arbitrator attested to the
respect in which he was held by both sides. Employers knew he would
give them a fair hearing and decide the issue on its merits, without tilting
Appointed to the Supreme Court of British Columbia on June 30, 1989,
Ian developed an enviable reputation for patience, sound analysis and persuasive
writing—qualities that predictably resulted in his elevation to the
Court of Appeal of British Columbia in 1994.
The distinct differences between the two courts created new challenges.
Frankly, anyone visiting Ian’s chambers on a Friday afternoon and observing
the arrival of an usher’s cart crammed with the next week’s factums,
appeal books and case law binders might well wonder how a weekend at the
Donald house could possibly be enjoyed, knowing what courtroom tasks
Ian was likely to face on Monday morning.
But there was a bigger challenge. While Ian may have viewed the shift to
group decision making as one offering a measure of relief from the comparative
isolation of trial judging, one might also wonder whether inevitable
differences of opinion would have the potential for creating tension when