Ivan Rand

Ivan Rand

BORN: Moncton, New Brunswick • 27 April 1884

DIED: London, Ontario • 2 January 1969

It was a rare defining moment in Canadian history. The year was 1945, the place was Windsor, Ontario, and a protracted strike at the Ford Motor Company symbolized all the rancorous divisions between management and unions in postwar Canada.

Many issues stood in the way of a settlement, but only one really mattered: Would the company recognize the right of the union to represent all workers at the plant? Both sides were unwavering: with the enthusiastic assistance of the Ontario government, Ford wanted to keep the powerful United Auto Workers from achieving gains for workers in its Canadian operation; the workers, fresh from patriotic exertions during the war, wanted what they saw as their due.

The country watched and held its breath—so much seemed on the line. As weeks dragged into months, a succession of politicians and mediators failed to find a compromise.Then, into the spotlight stepped Ivan Rand. The Supreme Court judge was appointed to arbitrate the dispute, and both sides reluctantly agreed to be bound by any terms he imposed.

Rand weighed the issues, interviewed management and labour, and in late January 1946 made his decision. Though he called his settlement a compromise, Rand’s judgment, approved by both sides, was a major milestone for Canadian labour: the judge refused to make union membership mandatory for Ford workers, but did impose union dues—the so-called automatic checkoff—on all employees, reasoning that even non-members would benefit from union bargaining.

The Rand Formula, as it became known, guaranteed both the union’s existence at Ford and its financial security. In an uncertain postwar world, the Ford agreement became the model for other Canadian labour negotiations, and the Rand Formula became an article of faith among working people.For Rand, it was a daring, creative solution to what had seemed an unresolvable impasse.

But then, finding such solutions was what Rand did for a living.He was born in New Brunswick and turned to law only after attempting a career as an engineer. An outstanding student at Harvard, he practised law in Saskatchewan and Alberta before returning to New Brunswick, where he served briefly as attorney- general in 1925—26.

Rand happily left politics, however, for a successful career as counsel for Canadian National Railways. As a longtime corporate lawyer, he was a surprise choice for the Supreme Court in 1943.Rand made his name in Windsor in 1946, but his work on the bench was also highly influential.

These were defining years for the court, since the termination of appeals to the British Judicial Committee meant that, from 1949, the Canadian court was truly supreme at last. Unlike many of his fellow judges, Rand saw the new era as a chance to Canadianize the nation’s law, and he delivered pioneering judgments that endure as legal landmarks.

His greatest passion was civil rights cases: decisions in the 1950s on the infamous Quebec padlock law and the treatment of Japanese Canadians during the war created for the first time an implied bill of rights in Canadian jurisprudence. The notion that governments possessed unlimited authority to trample individual rights in Canada was put to rest by Rand, long before the much-hyped Charter of Rights professed to do the same.

Rand retired from the Supreme Court in 1959, though he continued to be a much-sought-after legal fixer. He was the founding dean of the law school at the University of Western Ontario, and was often appointed by governments to investigate particularly vexing problems.

As more and more companies adopted the Rand Formula in Canada, and international unions took approving notice of it, his reputa¬ tion was without parallel. It was eminence that was richly deserved: Rand was a creative, progressive problem-solver whose impact on his country was lasting and profound.