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Experience & Expertise

Interest in Labour Relations

Brian developed his interest in workplace dispute resolution and employment law working to put himself through university.  His diverse jobs working on an automotive parts assembly line, in a brewery, and in a coal mine in northern Alberta demonstrated a wide variety of workplaces and workplace cultures. 

After graduating from law school in 1977, Brian pursued his interest in labour relations and dispute resolution by attending the University of Michigan.  There, in 1979, he completed a multi-disciplinary Diploma in Labour Relations and an  M.B.A.  During that period he also began his career as a neutral, being appointed as a Fact Finder by Ontario’s Education Relations Commission.  At that time fact-finding reports were an integral part of the school board/teacher collective bargaining process, being mandatory prior to any strike in the sector. 

Legal Practice

In turning to the practice of labour, employment, and human rights law for the next 40 years, Brian maintained a strong focus on collective bargaining and the public sector. He has also worked with parties in virtually every industry in the private sector, from construction to mining, manufacturing, warehousing, and the financial services sector.  

He began his career at a leading labour and employment boutique law firm, working closely with Warren K. Winkler who later became Chief Justice of Ontario.  Brian later became a senior partner at two different national law firms with leading employment, labour and human rights practice groups.  Brian frequently led collective bargaining teams for his clients, including major school boards, York University, and a wide variety of private sector clients, developing a reputation as a “tough but fair” negotiator. 

Brian frequently appeared before many employment-related tribunals as well as all levels of the courts.  A sample of the many reported cases that he argued before the OLRB, CLRB, arbitration boards, and courts can be found here [OLRB, CLRB/CIRB, arbitration, & court cases]

Glass Buildings


Glass Buildings

>   Member of Mediation-Arbitration Commission chaired by George Adams under Maintenance of Railway Operations Act 1995, to resolve disputes between CP Rail and 5 of its unions;

>   Represented the National Ballet of Canada in dispute with principal dancer Kimberly Glasco, in a case involving the intersection of employment law and matters of artistic freedom [2000];

>   Represented Rogers Communications Inc. in intervention before Supreme Court of Canada in case involving federally‑regulated employers’ workplace inspection obligations outside of employers’ premises (2019);

Lead negotiator for York University with all non-academic bargaining units: 2006 – 2020.

Work as a Neutral

Brian retired as a partner of Fasken Martineau DuMoulin in January 2020.  In 2021 he was appointed as Chair of the Public Service Grievance Board and Vice-Chair of the Ontario Labour Relations Board.  For decisions Mr. Smeenk has authored in his roles at the can be found here [PSGB & OLRB]
He was inducted as a Fellow of the tripartite College of Labor and Employment Lawyers in 2015. He is Past-President of the former, tripartite Toronto Industrial Relations Association. 

Other Interests 

Brian is a past Chair of the Ontario Bar Association’s Education Law Section. For many years he was a Vice-President of the Human Resources Professionals Association of Ontario and is Past-President of the Toronto Human Resources Professionals’ Association.
Brian is the founder and President of the Merit Award Bursary Program (  It provides bursaries to senior high school students as an incentive to stay in school and proceed with post-secondary education, recognizing those who demonstrate a commitment to their schoolwork, extra-curricular activities, and communities.  The bursaries are granted to students at participating schools in Toronto and  Peel Region.  It has operated since 1995.  In 2022 it awarded 315 bursaries and computers worth over $320,000 to over 320 students.  Brian is a passionate believer in the power of education to help overcome barriers and provide everyone with the ability to advance themselves and reach their personal goals.
Brian is also an avid cyclist. In 2020, when Covid prevented him from doing his planned bike trip across North America, he instead completed a solo, 2300 km “Tour d”Ontario.”

Legal Practice
Glass Buildings


Glass Buildings

>   Mediation of workplace disputes of all kinds

>   Education sector labour relations

>   Hospital sector employment disputes

Hospital/physician contractual & status disputes

>   Senior executive contractual disputes & terminations

>   Arbitration of workplace disputes

Please find all publically listed decisions by Brian on CanLII here

2021  | PSGB 

Preston v Ontario (Education), 2021 CanLII 71622 (ON PSGB)
Public Service Grievance Board — Ontario

Termination for cause – whether complaint timely – definition of “days” under Ont. Reg. 378/07

2021 | PSGB

Polanski v Ontario (Solicitor General), 2021 CanLII 95125 (ON PSGB)
Ontario Public Service Grievance Board — Ontario

public servant — anti-white racism and reprisal allegations - whether complaint timely — whether prima facie case

2022 | OLRB

Wanda Loraine Warren v Leslie Crook, 2022 CanLII 29285 (ON LRB) 

Labour Relations Board - Ontario

Employment Standards Act – Review of ESO decision  - hours — employer’s duty to record – Whether employee volunteered to work for free

2022 | ORLB 

Swaruban Vijeyaratnam (Ruban) v CUPE 250, 2022 CanLII 35072 (ON LRB)

Labour Relations Board - Ontario

Duty of fair representation —whether union fulfilled duty prior to deciding against arbitrating – whether union fulfilled duty after the decision – whether adequate communications

2022 | OLRB

Power Workers' Union, CUPE Local 1000 v The Corporation of the Town of Cochrane, 2022 CanLII 11860 (ON LRB)

Labour Relations Board - Ontario

Section 68 – whether transfer – whether successor union – required elements of a proper transfer

2021 | OLRB

Raney Man Che Ng a Director of 2490627 Ontario Inc. v Chun Qi Lin, 2021 CanLII 134568 (ON LRB)

Labour Relations Board - Ontario

Employment Standards Act – Review of ESO decision  - whether applicant was a director of the employer – evidence required

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