234 THE ADVOCATE
VOL. 78 PART 2 MARCH 2020
Q: You were transferred to Vancouver in 2007. How and why did that
A: Dohm A.C.J. called and told me they were rationalizing the masters’
positions in Nanaimo and Prince George. There was an insufficient volume
of work to have a resident master in each of those locations.
Q: What were the differences between the legal scene in the North (and
elsewhere) and the city?
A: Well, quality of counsel was not one of those differences because I
would say there are good lawyers everywhere. In the smaller centres
the lawyers were more casual, as you might expect. Even before this
was a thing in the city, no lawyers wore suits on Fridays unless they
were going to court. The lawyers also know each other better. In Vancouver
that doesn’t really happen, and I feel there is less courtesy and
collegiality as a result.
There are far fewer frivolous or rote chambers applications in the
smaller communities than in Vancouver. By “rote”, I mean the type of
application that issues almost automatically upon the most minor rule
infringement. In the smaller centres they tend to work things out more.
One thing about the smaller communities that I learned quickly is the
importance of local knowledge. On one of my early trips to Quesnel
there was a murder trial underway before a judge and jury. The
Supreme Court judge hearing the case mentioned that the accused
had a huge tarantula tattooed on his neck, which she found very distracting.
I mentioned that to one of the local registry staff. “Ah, yes”,
she said, “That’s Joe.1 Joe has had a rough life. He killed his stepfather
some years ago but because the dad was abusive Joe got off. Not this
time, though; this is about drugs.” She was right—Joe was convicted
On another early trip I was in a pub/restaurant in Dawson Creek. I
placed my order, went to the washroom and returned to find the RCMP
in full “after-fight” mode: blood here and there, arrest in progress. This
had all happened in a few minutes and was now over, so I sat down to
my meal and then headed off. The next time I was in Dawson Creek I
mentioned the event to Gord Schmidt, the court manager at that time,
and to a senior staff member who was with him. The staffer looked at
Gord and said, “Oh, Gord … you know what that was about, eh?” He
then turned to me and said, “Joe Blotz had been in camp for about six
weeks and guys kept coming up to him and saying, ‘You know who your
wife is having relations with, eh? It’s John Smith.’ And that night was