Vancouver Post-OCI Survey

If you want to decompress and share your thoughts about the frustrating OCI process, please click the link below. Spencer Keys has designed a very useful survey, and we will share the results with you afterwards. We encourage you to fill this out, even if you did not land a position, as this is a very valuable source of information for not only 2Ls, but 1Ls going forward. As well, we want you to know that we love you and your worth is incalculable. A strange, demeaning process that is akin to speed dating should not determine your worth. It’s reassuring to simply remember that a very high rate of us will land articling positions in any case. The CSO also tells me that about another 25% of 2Ls may find work outside of the OCI process, so keep at it!

The Survey:

You Have 1 New Notification



There is nothing that will force you into the unexplored recesses of your lump of neurons and assorted chemicals as a delayed flight. For me, this is in part due to the fact that my phone doesn’t charge properly, so I have no mindless diversions from the firm floor that is currently acting as my resting ground at 3:30 am. Somewhere in-between the stage of extreme exhaustion, law-school hangover, and lively, whirring thoughts, I do what someone will hopefully be paying me to do one day: think. “If you can’t work with your hands, then you better use your brain “, echo the words of a concerned mother.

Back to the phone. Some time apart from this expensive Facebook machine has forced me to amuse myself like people centuries ago did: doodling on paper, asking people if they want to play a game of cards, and so on… There really is a world outside of this smart device. Unfortunately this can’t be true if everyone’s eyes are locked onto a screen looking for things to do, because then you realize you’re the only one free from the matrix. Reaching around for someone to have even a trivial conversation with can be challenging when everyone is plugged in.

I’m not about to turn this into some old school speech about the nuisance of modern technology, because I love technology, probably more than most. But I find it hard to swallow that people are unable to even dare setting aside their phone, which acts as their shield from having to interact in sinister places like public transportation.
The point I want to make is this: technology is evolving exponentially, and if you are like myself, you love delving into it and are amenable to getting lost in a world that is not one of greenery and shrubs. There are immense psychological impacts and influences to be researched in the area of social media, which I await with elation. The observation that has come to me now however, is that the technologies that are capable of overcoming us today are far more powerful than they have ever been. Similar arguments can be made about the newspaper decades ago, but the smartphone is different, because it is like an extension of the mind, plus an audience.

Your audience used to only extend up to your line of sight, but now the audience is either anonymous, or 500 people connected to a similar program, or the whole internet itself. This might explain why we shun the people on the tedious commute in preference for the mind in our hand. By flipping on the phone, we get instant reward, much gratification, and a forum on which to share information, which activates the reward centers in our brains. No one said pleasure and ‘happiness’ are bad things, but the question is what kind of values are we instilling?
Are we becoming more awkward? Are we encouraging the taking of appropriate risks, or a life of safe, instantaneous gratification? Are we encouraging cooperation, or secluded individualism? Are we developing individuals closely in-tune and sensitive to the environment around them? Wherever we are going as a society with this, do not neglect the significance of the flow of human consciousness. As Hesse says, “the river is everywhere.” And as such, we are the wielders of its direction and flow. Would it not be such a beautiful thing to merge into the sea?

Sunrise sunset: on the passage of time

sunrise sunset


Walking alone on the Bund in Shanghai in the early evening is the time when I feel most melancholic and reflective. It’s got something to do with how brightly the neon from the office towers across the river shimmers and plays across the black water. I have been a foreigner in a foreign land—I drape myself over railings gloomily and munch on cold meat buns, waiting for the late-night greasy spoons and clubs to come sputtering back to life. I think about the friends I’ve loved who’ve gone already. Overhead the sky begins to burn.

I like sunrise and I like sunset. They both stand for the passage of time. That’s why so many of us still wear timepieces while carrying iPhones and Galaxy Ss. It’s important to live within time. There are 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour, 24 hours in a day, and 365 days in a year. We might live forever. We might not. I feel the weight of time pressing down on me.

What do we do with the time we have on this earth? Do we chase power? Chase love? Chase truth? Chase beauty? Chase life? Chase death? There’s a Psalm that goes Remember how fleeting is my life. / For what futility you have created all humanity! Who can live and not see death, / or who can escape the power of the grave?

The Supreme Court of Canada recently handed down a decision called Ezokola v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration) 2013 SCC 40, in which it created a new test for determining whether a refugee claimant is complicit in his or her government’s war crimes. Briefly, Mr. Ezokola was a government employee for the Democratic Republic of Congo while the DRC committed awful, awful atrocities against humanity. The question was whether or not Mr. Ezokola was excluded from attaining refugee status in Canada because of Article 1F(a) of the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, which explicitly denies refugee status to individuals who are guilty of committing war crimes.

What was key to the Court’s decision was that the Canadian approach to 1F(a) up to this time had failed to distinguish between voluntary crime and guilt by association. In Mr. Ezokola’s case, he was merely a pawn caught up in a corrupt, antidemocratic, and horrifically violent government helmed by President Kabila. The moment Mr. Ezokola became aware of the depth of the atrocities being committed by his leaders, he resigned, knowing that the DRC would treat this act as treason. Since then, Mr. Ezokola and his loved ones have been hounded across the world by the DRC’s intelligence thugs. It was on this basis that Mr. Ezokola sought refugee protection in Canada. Don’t worry—we’re going to give him and his family a serious shot at a new start. His appeal was allowed by the SCC and remitted to the Refugee Protection Division of the Immigration and Refugee Board. It was time for Mr. Ezokola and his family to go, and he was smart enough to cut his losses.

I wish you all the best Mr. Ezokola.

Some people let the angel of death who hovers overhead motivate them to new heights. Some people go to her willingly. Some people ignore her. Some people commit war crimes. Some people flee from war mongers. I think death is as beautiful as she is horrible. She stands for the end of something. And she gives me the courage to live the life that suits me best. If all things are but a momentary diversion on the road to the grave, then let those diversions be the ones I choose.

Together we will live forever: on immortality and taxes

Immortality and taxes

“Death is the road to awe,” whispers the dying Lord of Xibalba to Grand Inquisitor Silecio in the 2006 film about the quest for immortality called The Fountain. Chills. But what does that even MEAN, anyway? Define your terms: awe—a feeling of reverential respect mixed with fear or wonder; death—the destruction or permanent end of something. I guess a part of the reason why I like that line so much is because I don’t think there’s anything to fear, wonder, or respect about death in 2013.

The really tired joke that gets trotted out (by me) whenever I talk to a tax lawyer is that the only two things in life that are certain are death and taxes. I take issue with this joke (I’m taking issue with myself, to be clear). Death might not be certain anymore. The futurist, Ray Kurzweil, has spent the bulk of his life writing and lecturing on something he calls the Singularity, a speculative point in future-time where our Artificial Intelligence [A.I.] will have advanced to such a state that it will become capable of augmenting itself. And I ain’t talkin’ ’bout Skynet, here. We’re human beings, and we’re smart enough to have read the literature proposed by our most gloomy and dire noir-prophets, and consequently to plan ahead in creating A.I.—embedded with failsafes—that won’t augment itself into wanting to DESTROY ALL HUMAN LIFE.

So what is the speculated outcome of the Singularity? Hold onto your butts, ’cause I’m talking ’bout the Tree of Life, the Fountain of Youth, the portrait in Dorian Grey’s attic, and the Philosopher’s Stone—I’m talkin’ ’bout immortality. But not in the sense that we’ve traditionally conceived of immortality in our literature and philosophy.

Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about the Technological Singularity: “a theoretical point in time when human technology (and, particularly, technological intelligence) will have so rapidly progressed that, ultimately, a greater-than-human intelligence will emerge, which will radically change human civilization, and perhaps even human nature itself.” Kurzweil prophesizes that the Singularity will smack us upside the head around the year 2045, but popular science fiction writer Vernor Vinge predicts a more hopeful 2030.

Back to immortality. Listen to what a speaker at the 7th Annual Singularity Summit held last year in San Francisco had to say about death: “We don’t die because the laws of physics require us to die—we die because we’re not currently smart enough not to die … Why settle for predicting human behavior when we can re-engineer the human genome? … An exponential function is a multiplicative derivative … Solving the problem of friendly artificial intelligence is the key to saving the world.”

I’m getting chills again.


Kurzweil says confidently to a 60-year old man at the Singularity Conference, “Life expectancy tables are based on what happened in the past. In 25 years, we’ll be able to add one year of life for every year that passes. We have a very good chance of making it through.” And I’m only 25 years old. This is great!


The takeaway here is that none of us should really bother planning ahead to pay the tax consequences of our loved ones passing away. Canada doesn’t have a specific tax on dying, but this is only because a person’s assets are said to have passed on to the beneficiary exactly one minute before you died, according to the law. But don’t worry about that. You aren’t going to die.


Together we will live forever.

Sisyphus, and why your life is absurd…



(Specially dedicated to all us struggling to survive law school)

A famous Greek myth, illustrated by Camus, depicts a cursed being named Sisyphus rolling his boulder up to the top of a summit, only for it to plummet to the bottom again, where the cycle resets. Yet we don’t need to have our existential fancy-pants on whilst lighting a cigar to appreciate how each of us have our own Sisyphean stone to push.

The stone represents the glaring absurdity of the fact of life itself; the burning and toiling that you undergo throughout the course of your existence does not somehow conclude with a celebratory event like your graduation ceremony with welcome signs reading, “You did it!” Instead, all of your accomplishments, your resume, your friends, will blow away in the dust.

Although we could consider this the ultimate absurdity, that of human life in general, there are ones lurking in the very moments of our day-to-day life, which can be either the cause of distress or empowerment.

You’re working on improving your health, eating well, catching some extra sleep, and so on, and your body protests and rejects your hardest work with one fell-swoop – perhaps thanks to some illness, or emotional distress. You are working diligently on what you think is a brilliant idea for your boss, s/he examines it for a moment, scoffs, and pretends you don’t exist. You try to open up your formerly tender heart to a new lover, and they demolish you for the risk you took. You happily proclaim that you are riding your bike to work to reduce emissions, despite its inconvenience, but China acquires more coal-powered energy…

Upon reality contradicting your will, your perseverance, in such a mundane but truly arbitrary fashion, the first reaction is often decided angst. This is where the existentialist sits in their cafe sobbing and realizing that they are like Sisyphus, no matter how intelligent, beautiful, popular, or powerful they are.


This is however certainly not the end. While it is possible for us to pound our fist on the stone that we must hurl to the bottom and roll back up again, we might wish to seek empowerment through the absurdity of these day-to-day events.

There is a famous Latin expression known as amor fati, which means love of one’s fate or life. You don’t have to be a believer in a mystical thing like fate to appreciate the use of this though. If you can imagine the universe reproducing our lives, exactly the way they are right now, again, and again, do you wish to be breaking the bones in your fist against the Sisyphean stone thanks to the absurdities of life? Or perhaps you might collect your emotion and realize that this is going to be a long journey. Perhaps the only thing that makes sense here is to love your contradictory burden and feed off of it, so as to overcome the contempt that only adds to the weight of the stone.

This time Sisyphus lets out a satisfied laugh. The stone now smells fresh; the rough edges of the rock feel good against his tormented and tattered hands, because he now notices the things that he allowed to escape from his mind while despairing about the future. And so he sings ‘amor fati!’ on the trek up the mountain, as if he knew nothing else.

Letter from the Editor

Photo on 2013-08-29 at 15.51 #2

Friends, Romans, 1L’s, lend me your ears,

The Legal Eye is excited to usher in a new school year.

Those of you entering your first year of law school might not be familiar with the Legal Eye.  The same could be said of those upper year students who are transferring to UBC from other universities, and of everyone else.

The Legal Eye is UBC Law’s independent student publication.  We operate at arm’s length from all forms of government, out of a small room on the fourth floor with a wealth of post-it notes and no windows.

The Legal Eye‘s mission is to create a product that reflects the richness, diversity and collective wit of the student body.  To this end, I encourage everyone to get involved with the Legal Eye in whatever capacity appeals to you.  We are interested in contributors, editors, commenters and of course readers.

This year, in an effort to connect with broader audiences, we are foregoing all definitional limits on what constitutes relevant content.  The law student publication is interested in things loosely thematically linked to law and in things loosely thematically linked to students.  If you are interested enough in something to write 500 words about it, chances are it’s relevant.  Your strongly held beliefs in relation to section 19 of the Land Title Act are relevant.  Your review of the latest episode of Suits is relevant.  Funny pictures of your cat are highly relevant.  If you know how to make a tasty beef stroganoff from basic ingredients, you should write a piece about that, but you should also contact me privately at your earliest convenience.

The Legal Eye reserves the right to edit contributions for content, length, and grammar, but we intend to keep this right in reserve.  Defamation is not chill, and neither is hate speech.

If you are interested in getting involved with the Legal Eye, questions, comments, concerns, and contributions can be emailed to  Follow us on Twitter (@TheLegalEye), and love us on Facebook.  You are also encouraged to share your thoughts in the commenting section below.  I’m the guy in the picture.  Feel free to say hi to me in the halls.


Tal Letourneau