Barry Dong passed away on Saturday, May 8, 2021, at the age of 66. He will be fondly remembered by all of us at Harris, for so many reasons, and by so many others, in the labour relations community and beyond.
Barry was an exceptional lawyer and mentor. He delighted in spending time with young lawyers and imparting his wisdom and experience about the practice of law and labour relations. He had a unique ability to distill a problem or issue down to a very basic premise, and would advocate for his clients by eloquently and persuasively expressing that theme in a way that was always compelling and fair.
Barry enjoyed getting to know people. He was unique, in that all of his clients were his friends. The same can also be said for many of his opponents, both Union side counsel and Union representatives. He was genuine, and always had time for discussions of a personal nature, and he had an exceptional ability to make each of his clients feel like they were his top priority. His gregarious and humble nature was particularly effective when cross-examining witnesses, as they innately trusted him before realizing what was happening.
Barry was exceptionally generous in so many ways. He took pleasure in taking clients and friends on annual fishing trips, and entertaining clients and friends for dinner or golf. His primary concern was always ensuring that others were enjoying themselves. Above all, Barry was kind, thoughtful and humble, and this is manifested in the many positive personal relationships that he had throughout his lengthy career.
Barry was proud of the work he did throughout his career, particularly in the film and television and construction industries. He played a vital role in shaping the labour relations in those industries, both of which have become important and essential elements of the economy of British Columbia. He was a trusted advisor for many years, often working tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure labour relations stability and to promote the health and vitality of the industries in the Province. He had enormous respect for all who he worked with over the years, and enjoyed meeting his clients in places like Los Angeles and Hawaii.
Barry made a significant contribution to Labour Relations in BC, when he was appointed along with Michael Fleming and Sandra Banister, Q.C. to the Labour Relations Review Panel to review the Labour Relations Code, and report to the Minister of Labour in 2018. This is a reflection of how respected Barry was in the labour relations community.
Since Barry’s passing, we have received countless messages about Barry; many of these messages are from clients and friends. However, many are from arbitrators and other adjudicators, opposing counsel and Union representatives. They all express their admiration and respect for Barry and how he treated them despite their different views and positions.
We all admired, valued and appreciated Barry; his humour, his generosity of spirit and his love of friends and family above all. We at Harris miss Barry terribly. Our thoughts are with Barbara, Jeremy and Taylor and their partners as they cope with their sadness and loss.