I was a practising employment and labour relations lawyer for 30 years from 1988 until 2018 when I retired as a lawyer (LL.B. Dalhousie, 1987; J.D. Dalhousie 2011). I maintain the designation of Chartered Professional in Human Resources (CPHR) and I now work as a management consultant in the HR and Labour Relations field.
I also work with non-profit organizations as a coach on board governance, human resources policies, risk management and insurance for non-profits. I may serve as Interim Executive Director during times of transition. I also provide professional recruitment services when hiring a new Executive Director.
From 1988 until 2007 I served my clients through an established Annapolis Valley law firm where I was the senior litigation partner (and for a time Managing Partner). I served as Legal Counsel in the Office of the Leader of the Opposition. I served as Legal Counsel and Chief Negotiator for the Nova Scotia Nurses’ Union. I operated a private human resources and labour-employment law practice, based in Kentville, Nova Scotia, from 2011. In 2016 I was appointed as Legal Counsel and Manager of Policy and Planning for a regional public-sector environmental services authority. I served as the Authority’s Acting General Manager during part of that time. In the past, I represented both employees and employers in Human Rights cases of all kinds, under both the Provincial and Federal human rights legislation.
My clients have included large corporations, financial institutions and banks, and government entities at both the provincial and municipal level. But mostly, over the years, my clients have been small and medium-sized businesses, non-profit organizations, farmers and agri-food operations and entrepreneurs.
Most business leaders would agree that smaller organizations that do not employ in-house HR staff can still benefit greatly from professional HR advice on an ‘as needed’ basis. Good HR practices are widely known to bring greater efficiencies and a more engaged and productive workforce and better recruitment and retention while at the same time reducing the employer’s exposure to often very substantial unexpected costs. I can provide cost-effective HR solutions that allow business owners and non-profit organizations to concentrate on what you do best: growing your business, improving their operations and serving their customers.
I also provide private workplace incident investigations and dispute resolution services that can save your organization money.
I served a five-year term as Chair of the Nova Scotia Election Commission from 2009 to 2014. While I was appointed by the Cabinet, like a judge I could only be removed by a resolution of the House of Assembly. During my term, I met monthly with senior representatives of the three political parties that had seats in the House of Assembly to grapple with many contentious issues including the registration and financing of political parties, merit-based appointments of local election officials, election finance rules and proposals to expand the way people vote during elections. These were complex and often contentious discussions.
I have also been retained by municipal governments over the years to handle sensitive and difficult matters involving disputes between and among municipal councillors. I one situation I was asked to inquire into and report to Council on an allegation of violation of the Code of Conduct made by one councillor against another. I was retained by a different municipality to meet with Council informally to resolve a factional dispute between two groups of councillors that was preventing Council from functioning as it should. In another situation in the non-profit sector, I was brought in to resolve a dispute concerning membership on the Board.
I bring these same advanced mediation and practical problem-solving skills to bear in employee relations, whether in a unionized or a non-union workplace, and no matter what the size of the operation is.
As a volunteer, I was elected to serve on the national board of Diabetes Canada and I sit on the Compensation and Human Resources Committee. I was also elected to the board of the National Diabetes Trust Corporation, which is an arms-length (for-profit) social enterprise operating throughout Canada that benefits the work of Diabetes Canada. I am a member of the Governance, Nominations, Compensation and Human Resources committee of that Board.