The 2011 Boughton/BCLI GREATdebate.
By Tony Wilson
It was the accountant who summed it all up while we glanced at the tiny TV screen in the elevator in Bentall 3: “there is no good news these days” he said, disparagingly. In July and August, there really wasn’t any, was there?
In Europe, the Greeks were outraged at the austerity measures imposed by their government to remedy a generation of institutionalized tax evasion and profligacy (they have to pay tax now and can’t retire at 55 anymore). France is in trouble because its sovereign debt is high and its banks are exposed to the PIIGS’s debt as well, (PIIGS meaning Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain). Money has been moving out of Europe in anticipation of more defaulting PIIGS. The German economy is stalling, and the Euro’s days may be numbered.
Parts of London, Birmingham and other English cities were ablaze in August, with rampant looting and lawlessness that the UK Prime Minister suggested were caused by attending the wrong sort of schools.
The Egyptian revolution is still not over, and revolt and civil war have spread to Syria and Libya. Muammar Gaddafi is gone after a blood filled rebellion, but at the time of writing, Syrian President Assad is still shooting his own people in what appears to be an effort to avoid swinging from the end of a noose when the rebels win.
In the Ungovernable States of America, the Tea Party held their country to ransom during the debt-ceiling debacle because they don’t believe in taxing billionaires like Warren Buffet (who in fact, does want his taxes to rise). The crisis led to Standard and Poor downgrading the U.S.’s credit rating and the price of gold has gone through the roof. Most of the candidates who want to replace Barak Obama as President are stark raving mad, and blame Obama for the wars started (and debts incurred) by George W. Bush. Loving God and guns but hating Darwin, science and the Renaissance, the front-runners seem to want to turn the U.S. into a tax-free theocracy. Michelle Bachman, for one, has said African-American families were more stable when slavery was legal, she doesn’t believe in evolution, and she thinks that being gay is like being a slave (and is curable!).
And despite arguments by some of the best tax experts (and Globe and Mail columnists) in Canada, the B.C. electorate, which seems to want good medical care and well paid teachers, defeated the HST – a tax that might have actually helped pay for good medical care and higher paid teachers. Now we owe the feds $1.6 billion and the teachers are threatening to strike for the money that would have been easy to find if the HST had passed.
I can think of only one thing that will put a smile on the faces of B.C. lawyers in this autumn of our discontent: The 2011 Boughton/BCLI GREATdebate, which happens Wednesday, October 26, 2011 at the Pan Pacific in Vancouver.
Your humble correspondent has been involved in the GREATdebate since it started in 2008. The brainchild of BCLI Director Jim Emmerton, it was thought of as a way to bring back the tradition of light-hearted debate while dealing with topics related to law reform. In years past, we’ve debated the relevance of copyright law in the age of the Internet, the end of lawyers, and testamentary gifts to animals.
The format has evolved over the years to a point where those who were the judges of past debates (The Honourable Wally Oppal, QC and The Honourable Chief Justice Robert Bauman) are now among the debaters, this change being implemented only because Mr. Oppal and Mr. Bauman historically voted for any position but mine. This year, we debate the law of Champerty and Maintenance. Wally and I are busy trying to figure out what the dickens it is so we can entertain the audience with our wit and wisdom, and perhaps overrule the team comprised of Chief Justice Bauman and Emily Clough.
Be there. It’ll be better than watching the news.
Vancouver Franchise Lawyer Tony Wilson practices at Boughton Law Corporation, is a regular columnist with the Globe and Mail and is an Adjunct Professor at SFU. His views do not reflect the views of the CBABC, the Law Society of BC or any other organization.
This article was published in the October 2011 issue of BarTalk. © 2011 The Canadian Bar Association. All rights reserved.