Peter Engelmann’s initiation into labour law began 30 years ago on the front lines of three large-scale strikes in Edmonton – the Gainers strike of 1986, the Canada Post strikes of 1987 and 1988 and the nurses’ strike of 1988. During the Gainers strike, Peter underwent a “trial by fire” – by day he helped the union deal with strike breakers, use of force by the police, and public relations; by night he was at the police station helping arrested union members and supporters. In a short time, Peter had learned much of what he needed to know about the importance and power of union job action.
Since moving to Ottawa in 1988, Peter has litigated a number of large, complex cases in the areas of pay equity, human rights, and constitutional law. More recently he has been involved in class actions seeking to compensate employees for unpaid overtime. He also acted as Lead Commission Counsel to the Cornwall Public Inquiry.
While he is always ready to sink his teeth into huge, complicated litigation files, Peter is equally dedicated to representing clients in individual labour arbitration, human rights and professional discipline cases. From advancing same-sex couples’ right to receive survivor pension benefits, to fighting for the right of hospital workers to have tattoos and body piercings, Peter has been involved in many interesting cases – while declining to get “inked” himself.
Peter is an outstanding oral advocate and is happiest on his feet, standing up for his clients’ rights. His gregarious personality transforms to a sharp competitive edge that has served him well at all levels of court from the Supreme Court of Canada to a diverse array of administrative tribunals. Even after so many years of practice, Peter still gets a rush out of those first few moments of a hearing.
Peter is co-author of Trade Union Law in Canada, the leading text on the law governing the internal workings and obligations of trade unions. He spends his summers updating it from his cottage on the shores of beautiful Lac Manitou.
- Fresco v. Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (Summary judgment decision)
- Dyck v. The Canadian Association of Professional Employees