Don Goodfellow, Q.C.
President - AAMS
As President of the Alberta
Arbitration and Mediation Society, it is my pleasure to
welcome you and invite you to take a stroll with us down
Resolution Alley, our new newsletter. It is also my
pleasure to welcome you to the new AAMS website at
Resolution Alley is different
from the newsletters of other Alternative Dispute Resolution
(ADR) organizations, in that we are not trying to
communicate with any particular membership.
Our audience is the general
public and the average Albertan who may not know a lot about
arbitration or mediation, but who may be very much in need
of these services. Our audience is also those who may want
or need to know more about additional ADR practices such as
facilitation, restorative justice and other vehicles by
which Albertans can more easily resolve their disputes.
We simply cannot say it enough.
AAMS is a federally regulated charity. We do not mediate. We
do not arbitrate. We do not answer to a membership or
advocate on their behalf.
To visitors reading this
newsletter or visiting our website, we are here to help you
with any conflict you may be in or any dispute you may
have. We want to keep you out of the courts and keep most
of your money in your pocket.
To all the fine ADR
organizations in Alberta, we’re here to send you as many
people as possible in need of your services.
We’re here to initiate creative
and exciting community projects throughout the province to
trumpet ADR as a viable and desirable alternative. You are
welcome to participate with us in these initiatives over the
The only thing we ask of you is
to call us. If you are confused and don’t know about
mediation, arbitration or other options, call us.
If you want to work on some of
our community projects, call us. If you would like some
brochures or additional information, call us.
If you would like a guest
speaker to address your organization or make a presentation,
We are here, and we are here to help.
Executive Director, AAMS
Welcome to the
first-ever edition of Resolution Alley. Several years ago I
wrote about how mediators and arbitrators have toiled nobly
and quietly to bring peace to the world. Perhaps a bit too
quietly. After all this time, most regular folks today
still don’t know or care about what we do. My friend Shinji
illustrated it perfectly:
Holiday Cocktail Party Exchange #1:
“What do you do?”
“I’m a mediator.” “Hey isn’t this dip delicious?”
Holiday Cocktail Party Exchange #2:
“What do you do?”
“I’m a mediator.” “Oh yeah, that arbitration stuff. Hey
isn’t this dip delicious?”
Holiday Cocktail Party Exchange #3:
“What do you do?”
“I’m a mediator.” “Cool! My Zen master is teaching me how
to meditate, too. Can you see through your third eye yet?”
Our profile isn’t
high because mediators don’t really capture the public eye
through popular culture or mass media. We’ve never been
afforded the glamour and notoriety of lawyers, doctors,
cops, bug exterminators, window cleaners and “real”
Well, we are the
Alberta Arbitration and Mediation Society (AAMS) and our job
is to help change all that. Ironically, we have been part of
the Alberta community for 30 years, yet we are truly brand
This past year we
became solely and completely a federally registered charity,
splitting from the former organization (which is now the ADR
institute of Alberta) and now being solely dedicated to
educating Albertans about conflict resolution.
will feature articles about divorce, wills and estates,
corporate conflict, restorative justice, trends in the
courts and anything of general interest if relevant to
people resolving conflict. Our readership will primarily be
average Albertans, although we welcome everyone.
educational articles and regular columns with contributors
from other organizations in Alberta that want to announce
special events or simply tell you more about what they do.
Although we do not
advocate per se, we won’t be adverse to a little editorial
comment if we think it is in the public interest and
represents the united opinion of our Board of Directors.
Finally, don’t be
surprised if you see the occasional cartoon, joke, recipe,
household tip, humorous story or video link. Newsletters are
supposed to be informative, but also fun!
How Do I Find a Skilled Mediator or
by Tammy Borowiecki and Paul Conway
As a business leader, as a lawyer, or as
someone facing a family breakdown, how do you seek out and
find a qualified professional that will mediate or arbitrate
a conflict situation and reduce your potential court costs?
Appropriate Dispute Resolution (ADR) professionals offer a
range of resolution options that are quicker, more durable
and less expensive than traditional litigation or grievance
processes. In Canada, to ensure that arbitration and
mediation services offered are of the highest possible
caliber, individuals and organizations regularly turn to the
national standards as established by the ADR Institute of
Canada (ADRIC). As the provincial affiliate, the ADR
Institute of Alberta (ADRIA) represents professionalism in
ADR and administers all national designations in Alberta on
behalf of ADRIC. These trademarked designations are:
Qualified Mediator, Q.Med.
Qualified Arbitrator, Q.Arb.
Chartered Mediator, C.Med.
Chartered Arbitrator, C.Arb.
Marketing Resources for ADR Professionals
As you know, AAMS' charter is to educate the public on ADR.
To that end we've set up a website and are embarking on an
email campaign. However, it is clear to us that we can
reach more people by providing you with the tools to reach
your own communities. To that end we've partnered with our
website developers (Digital Smart Tools) to put together a
program for you that will help you reach out. Consisting
of monthly emails and daily social media postings this
program will eliminate the tedious parts of your marketing
efforts freeing you up to network within your own
In addition to these digital marketing efforts, AAMS is
committed to developing marketing collateral that you can
personalize. This includes printed success stories,
writeups targeted to specific industries, general
brochures, and more - all of which you'll be able to print
locally and personalize with your own contact information.
We are also opening a YouTube video channel so you can use
our video content without having to direct your prospects to
First of all, let us be clear - at this time this program is
only available to those of you who are active ADRIA
members. You're the people we want to partner with on the
front end because we know you are qualified ADR
professionals. To do so we've developed a unique program
Christina L. Scott, J.D.
Neutrality: The Cornerstone of Mediation
An essential skill for mediators is
the ability to remain neutral - not only in words, but
in non-verbal communication as well. Staying neutral is
often a challenge, but it is necessary in order to
maintain the integrity of the process. According to
Webster's Dictionary Neutral means "not aligned with or
supporting any side or position in a controversy".
Without neutrality, the entire mediation process is in
danger of becoming a "judgment" session in which the
mediator ends up sending the wrong message to the
parties through careless words and demeanor. Such
behavior puts the parties on the defensive and destroys
any confidence they have in the process.
Mediators should not seek to
instigate or manipulate the parties just to get a
settlement. After all, "a mediator is not an
instigator!" When instigation and manipulation are used,
it may send the false message that the mediator favors
one position over the other. The parties may actually
feel as if the mediator is trying to bend them towards
that position instead of hearing their concerns.
Mediators often hear things that they may or may not
agree with personally, but their behavior and demeanor
should not imply their opinion.
The mediator's role in court
connected mediation should be to filter through all the
"noise", understand each party's interests, and seek to
facilitate a discussion toward a merging of those
Anyone can tell others what they
should do in their case or what they should think.
Mediators who problem solve, however, make the magic and
all the ooh ahh moments possible!
Daniel R. Burns
Attorney & Mediator
"Visit" Your Children - Parent Them !
In order to keep up with
the current divorce law, I subscribe to a variety of
services that contain summaries of recent cases. Many of
these cases involve custody of children and almost all use
the phrase “the best interest of the child” in determining
what to do when the parents are not able to figure out for
themselves what is “best” for their children.
Unfortunately, in almost all of these cases, the courts
continue to use the word “visitation” when discussing the
time one parent spends with his or her children. I think
it’s time that changed!
divorce mediation practice, I inform my clients from the
start that they will never hear me use the word “visitation”
unless I am talking about one of them spending time
“visiting” a friend or relative who is in the hospital or in
of Divorce Mediation
Once a couple has decided to separate or divorce is the best
time to consider mediation, although can actually occur at
virtually any stage of the divorce. Sooner is better for
avoiding the conflict of our adversarial court system and,
of course, legal costs.
Mediation is a wonderful option for avoiding hurtful fights
and for easing fears that come with the end of a marriage or
“How will the children and I survive without the help of his
“I haven’t been on my own in a long time. How do I look
after the kids and maintain a job?”
“The children don’t like change. Will we have to move?
“Is she going to take the kids away from me? I still want to
be a good father”.
“I don’t like his/her new boy/girl friend, especially around
“I brought my inheritance into the marriage. Do I get it
These are just
a few of the normal and natural fears that can help be
addressed in a non-confrontational manner through mediation
without having to lash out at one’s partner
Caring for Your Elderly
Over 70 per
cent of Canadian seniors have not assigned power of attorney
to anyone in case they are mentally or physically challenged
in their twilight years.
or outright refuse to have those awkward conversations about
how they should be cared for later on. Yet poor planning, or
the lack of planning, on the part of a senior likely means
that person’s adult children will arbitrarily step in to
control his or her affairs; and there is a strong likelihood
they will not be handled according to the senior’s wishes.
presume their parents have wills that will cover all this.
But most wills simply deal with what should happen after
someone’s death and are not “living wills”.
to Your Children if You Pass On?
I read an article by Charles B.
Wagner, a Certified Specialist in Estates and Trusts and a
partner at Wagner Sidlofsky LLP in Toronto. He was extolling
the value of a will, regardless of whether you think you
have enough assets to warrant one.
He demonstrated how this is
particularly important if you have children, as it is not
necessarily up to you who will have custody of your children
after your death.
He cited the case of a young
Catholic woman who became Jewish. She did not have a will
and did not specifically appoint a guardian for her child.
The lady passed away and the maternal grandparents applied
There was no particular mention
of the father, other than that he had been Jewish and had
also passed away. But the child being raised Catholic was
known not to be what the mother wanted. The result was a
legal battle to keep the child Jewish. A will might have
avoided this contentious confrontation.
Good Faith and the Courts
“Court connected” mediation is kind of a process within a
process. The collaborative process of mediation takes place
within the adversarial process of litigation. When
considering the issue of "good faith" in mediation, we must
not overlook how it may be viewed by a judge, if the case is
not settled and it ends up in court.
When courts are called upon to enforce good faith
requirements, they tend to look beyond the mediation process
to the "totality of the circumstances" and apply general
principles of fair play. There was a case in 2008, where the
defendant filed a motion for summary judgment on the eve of
mediation while the plaintiffs and their counsel were en
route from another city.
At the mediation, the defendant's participation was limited
to presenting plaintiff's counsel with a copy of the motion
that had been filed the previous evening. The Court found
that the motion had clearly been contemplated well in
advance of the mediation session, that defendant's failure
to inform the other party caused them to unnecessarily incur
expenses, and that it had the predictable effect of
rendering the mediation mute.
The Court concluded that defendants did not act in good
faith and that their actions warranted sanctions. It
extended the concept of "good faith" in mediation to include
not only what happened in the mediation itself but also what
happened with the case before and after the mediation.
Mediation practitioners, and those who use mediation to
resolve their disputes, must always be mindful that strict
compliance with the "good faith" standards may well have to
satisfy the standards of mediation and the standards of the
This is not rocket science. “good faith” is “good faith”
Regina Brett, 90 years old, first published
by The Plain Dealer, Cleveland, Ohio.
"To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the
45 lessons life taught me. It is the most requested column
I've ever written. My odometer rolled over to 90 in August,
so here is the column once more:
1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.
2. When in doubt, just take the next small
3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your
friends and parents will. Stay in touch.
5. Pay off your credit cards every month.
6. You don't have to win every argument.
Agree to disagree.
With New Meanings
I love the differences in the new social meaning of words.
For example Canadians were the ones who created the new
meaning for "Cougar" - an older lady who likes dating
We also were also the originators of the term "Cocooning" -
staying home (usually in winter) and doing things with the
family instead of going out very much.
With cocooning we envision being in front of the fireplace
on a cold or rainy night, playing board games or watching a
movie, and sipping on a hot chocolate or a glass of your
There's a new word meaning for a common word that is quite
heavily used in the United States that is only just becoming
known here. The term is "Nesting".
Nesting refers to divorced or separated couples who still
live in the same house after their divorce or separation.
For some, it is a temporary measure as one or the other
partner prepares to move out in a planned and organized