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Guest post by Martha Murphy of the Ontario Workplace Tribunals Library

We have good news for those of you who use the Ontario Ministry of Labour Employment Standards Act 2000 Policy and Interpretation Manual (P & I Manual). The Manual has been updated as of Mar 22, 2019 and the release will be available through our Ontario Workplace Tribunals Library (OWTL) website or it can be requested directly from MOL.

The ESA 2019 Release 1 March 2019 replaces all prior versions. The previous version was ESA 2018 Release 2 July 2018.  Please share this widely with the legal community and any interested stakeholders.

In 2016, MOL began publishing the P & I Manual bi-annually as an Open Government initiative. In prior years the P & I Manual was published by Thomson Carswell. The OWTL will provide updates as they become available.  The P & I Manual is only available as a PDF document. MOL is currently working on providing the Manual in both languages on

If you wish to request the P & I Manual directly from the Ministry of Labour, please contact them at A PDF copy will be sent to you.  There is currently no distribution list to which you can subscribe in order to receive future updates.

Stay tuned!

— Martha Murphy


In a previous post, we covered the bad tendency to make a verb out of a noun (action, credential, reference, task and others of this misbegotten brood).

One verb-from-noun that may be OK is gift.

It doesn’t mean anything that give doesn’t, so arguably there is no real need for it – but some lawyers like to use it for things like donations. Does gift sound more formal and legal/technical than plain old give? Perhaps, but that’s not good reason to use it.  

Gift as a verb does have a fairly long history, going back to the sixteenth century. And it is natural to talk about someone as being gifted with some sort of skill or talent.

In the gift-bestowing, present-making sense, the OED suggests the verb is ‘chiefly Scottish’, and most of the examples of usage are in fact from Scots legal sources.

Use gift as a verb if you must, but you might be better just to give.

Neil Guthrie (@guthrieneil)


In collaboration with several other organizations, the University of Saskatchewan launched a Gladue Rights Research Database last spring (hat tip to Legal Sourcery for   noting this new resource).

At that time the database was accessible for a small subscription fee. Since then, the database has become open access (read: free) through the generosity of the several sponsors.

A bit more detail on the database:

“This database is an ever-expanding work in progress. It is designed to provide Indigenous people, their legal counsel, and others working within the justice system with information that will assist in the protection of Gladue rights after a person’s conviction and prior to sentencing. In particular, this database provides researchers with information pertaining to the history of settler colonialism in the province of Saskatchewan up to c. 1990.

This database is designed to provide much, but not all, the information required to write or review a Gladue report. It provides solid comprehensive information explaining the unique circumstances that have impacted and shaped Indigenous people’s lives in Saskatchewan – the essential historical backgrounds and contexts to the situations Aboriginal people face today. The additional recent and intimate personal information needed to complete particular Gladue reports must be acquired separately.

There are a few different ways to navigate the database: browse by topic, read about key concepts, or search. There is also a timeline of settler colonialism in Saskatchewan and various relevant historical and topical maps.


Your prose should be tight, toned and vigorous if you want to engage rather than repel your reader.

Too often, though, lawyers resort to flabby and lethargic constructions like these:

  • Please be advised that … [omit and just give the damn advice]
  • make available [offer, provide]
  • … when I am able [heard on voicemail and seen in out-of-office replies; do people think when I can is too colloquial? it’s perfectly good]
  • quoted as saying [this always sounds like either I’m not saying that this person actually said this (in case I get into trouble for suggesting that) but she has been reported (by others!) to have said … or just I haven’t bothered to check, but …]
  • duly authorised [something can’t be unduly authorised, can it? duly authorised is a redundancy]

Neil Guthrie (@guthrieneil)


The Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (1969) defines a treaty in Article 2 as “an international agreement concluded between States in written form and governed by international law, whether embodied in a single instrument, or in two or more related instruments and whatever its particular designation.”

Treaties can be bilateral (between two countries), multilateral (between three or more countries) or plurilateral (between one state and a group of states).

In Canada, treaties fall into one of two categories: those that do not require new legislation in order to be implemented and those that do. For treaties that don’t require legislation, the Canadian government will wait at least twenty-one sitting days after a treaty is tabled and then begin the process of bringing the treaty into force. For treaties that do require legislative changes, the Government will generally wait a minimum of twenty-one sitting days before introducing the necessary legislation, although exceptions can be made if a treaty needs to be urgently ratified. (For more information on the process see

For example, the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Seizure of Aircraft, signed in The Hague in 1970, is a multilateral treaty of which Canada is a signatory. Canada signed the Convention on December 16, 1970, but did not ratify it until June 20, 1972. The legislation was tabled in the House of Commons on June 23, 1972 and the Convention came into force in Canada on July 24, 1972. (The in force date differs greatly by country.)

The Canadian Treaty Series is available at and you can search Canada’s treaties at

Susannah Tredwell


Administrator’s note: thanks to Lesley Ellen Harris of for this guest tip!

Do you sometimes feel that there’s too much information out there?

Do you wish there were a list of the top 5 to 10 online articles you need to read to get from point A to point B?

These posts on Canadian copyright law provide a basic understanding of a variety of topics.

  1. 10 Myths About Canadian Copyright Law
  2. 8 Facts About Canadian Copyright Law
  3. Canadian Copyright Law Quiz
  4. The Balance in Canadian Copyright Law
  5. Who Owns Copyright in Canada?
  6. Duration of Copyright in Canada
  7. Moral Rights in Canadian Copyright Law
  8. Orphan Works in Canada: Unlocatable Copyright Owners
  9. Canadian Versus U.S. Copyright Law
  10. Canadian Librarians and International Copyright


Shut down, shutdown
Don’t confuse these.

You shut down your computer in anticipation of the firmwide shutdown by the IT department.  On a similar footing, log in and login.

This is like the awful liaise.

Surveil is a misguided back-formation from surveillance, but an ugly and unnecessary one; just say watch or follow.

Well wishes
Where on earth did this expression come from? You wish someone well, but send good wishes. Well wishes awkwardly places an adverb where only an adjective should go.

The partner was impressed by the associate’s memo.

OK, but was the impression favourable or unfavourable? We generally mean impressed in a positive way, but if you think about it the word means that something elicited a reaction, whether negative or positive.

That said, She was not impressed would never be taken to mean neutrality or lack of response. Avoid anyway, not least because it’s a journalistic/Wikipedia-entry kind of word.

The below
For the love of all that is beautiful and true, no!

Please see above (or below) or the paragraph above (or below) would be fine, but the below in reference to something set out lower down is inelegant.

Whatever happened to ‘on’ and ‘about’?
People now say around or even surrounding when a simpler on or about would do. Issues surrounding, questions around, rules around – stop this!

Neil Guthrie (@guthrieneil)


You’ve already been advised in a previous post not to say outside of or inside of. The of is both unnecessary and incorrect in each case.

Of creeps in elsewhere, where it should not. As in the shudder-inducing off of, Please, just off. Or perhaps from (I got it from the internet, not off of).

Or as in It’s not that big of a deal. You mean It’s not that big a deal (although not much of a big deal).

Where you should be using of is with the verb enamoured: you are enamoured of (not with) someone if you are in love with that person (enamoured by the person if you are loved back).

Neil Guthrie (@guthrieneil)


The general rule of thumb is that acts are amended (or repealed) by acts and regulations are amended (or repealed) by regulations. Some acts do explicitly state that they can be amended by regulation, although what can be amended is usually minor (e.g. making changes to a schedule to an act).

An example of this can be found in British Columbia’s Workers Compensation Act:

(4.1) The Board may, by regulation,

(a) add to or delete from Schedule B [of the act] a disease that, in the opinion of the Board, is an occupational disease,
(b) add to or delete from Schedule B a process or an industry, and
(c) set terms, conditions and limitations for the purposes of paragraphs (a) and (b).

Such provisions are known as Henry VIII clauses. The name is based on Henry VIII’s reputed fondness “for legislating directly by proclamation rather than through Parliament.


Basis is, basically, bad. Why, you ask? It’s one of those words that lawyers love to use, but one that renders their prose flabby and verbose. Instead of on a temporary/permanent/daily/whatever basis, just write temporarily, permanently, daily etc. While adverbs are not a hallmark of vigorous prose, a single word is better than four.

A related word is based: Where are you based?, people ask; I’m based in Toronto. Doesn’t this sound affected? Why can’t it just be live? Perhaps based sounds more cosmopolitan and jet-setty (put another way, pretentious)?

More along the lines of basis are manner and fashion. Only a lawyer would ask for a memo to be delivered in a timely manner (promptly or even soon would be plainer and better). And in an orderly fashion? Please trim the fat and just say something like in order, neatly, regularly …

Neil Guthrie (@guthrieneil)