Perspectives from a Mediator/Arbitrator

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Election and Proportional Representation

The Ontario Provincial Election is now underway. The election of a government is very important. However, perhaps even more important is a referendum on proportional representation. I have to admit that I have always been a fan of the concept of proportional representation but I am a bit worried about the implications of this particular proposal. Here are some of my thoughts - happy to discuss:
1. We will have bigger ridings which will mean that MPPs will have more constituents and as a result be more remote from their constituents.
2. We will have a number of MPPs who will have no constituents - is that not a significant part of the job. To whom will they be responsible? What if they want to "cross the floor"
3. Will we have permanent minority governments? Will minor parties be too powerful - what would it mean if a party with 3.5% of the vote held the balance of power - is that sensible? appropriate? desirable?

What do you think? I am most concerned that there seems to be very little discussion and the vast majority of people do not appear to be at all informed about this issue.

On a more personal note

Maybe it is just coincidence that my last post was in January just before my partner took a new job. Accordingly, things have been a little busier than usual.

Glad to report another successful year of sponsorship of teams in the Beaches Community Soccer League - this year both kids played on Raymond United and their seasons were fun and enjoyable. If you live east of downtown, I recommend this league for its low stress approach to kids' soccer.

Arbitration tips - Part 2

Today. I want to say a little bit about cross-examination. I find that there are lots of cross-examinations that seem to lack focus. I once heard an excellent speech by Julian Porter on the art of cross-examination. He said that "cross-examination is a precision strike behind enemy lines - you get in, do your damage and get out before they even know that you have landed".

While that is not true of all cross-examinations, I find that many advocates do not remember this when they are cross-examining. Frequently, a cross-examiner will make a very good point and then at some point in the cross-examination come back to the point again. Now, there is a chance that the witness is going to say something a little different. While that may assist an argument on credibility, it may also deflate the point that was made earlier. I do find myself from time to time why the cross-examiner came back to the point? Try not to. If you really think that the trier of fact has not grasped the point, there is a chance in final argument to highlight it - you do not need to highlight it by revisiting it.

Another reason that cross-examiners should try to keep the cross-examination short is that they sometimes forget that the witness being cross-examined is not a witness that "generally speaking" is going to help the case. The longer the cross-examination goes on - the more likely the witness will begin to repeat points made in the examination-in-chief or make points that were missed in the examination-in-chief. Neither are particularly helpful for the cross-examiner.

Wow - where have I been?

OK. The last thing you want to read from a blogger is some excuse as to why there has not been anything new for awhile. So I will just say that there has not been and there will be!