Queen's University IRC

Labour Relations Foundations

Laying the Groundwork for Excellence in Union-Management Relations




Our flagship program for over 80 years, Labour Relations Foundations is widely acknowledged as Canada’s number one learning experience of its kind. There is no better place to develop foundational skills in collective bargaining, grievance mediation, and arbitration in just five days.


Jun 12 - Jun 16, 2023 Halifax The Prince George Hotel Jun 08 $5,595
Sep 11 - Sep 15, 2023 Toronto Old Mill Toronto Sep 11 $5,595
Dec 04 - Dec 08, 2023 Virtual Zoom Link will be provided after registration Nov 24 $4,795
Mar 25 - Mar 29, 2024 Victoria Laurel Point Inn Mar 21 $5,595
Jun 02 - Jun 07, 2024 Kingston Holiday Inn Kingston-Waterfront May 30 $5,595




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Learn how to:


Make the most of this rare opportunity to see how the other side lives; managers will understand the union perspective while union representatives will view issues through management eyes.

a) Grievance Mediation From the Ground Up

Our leaders take you through the nuts and bolts of the grievance mediation process. You will learn the advantages of this process and the issues most appropriate to resolve via mediation. And you will be taught the key factors that ensure success.

b) Walking the Grievance Arbitration Beat

    • Follow your leader through the grievance arbitration process and progressive discipline essentials. He or she will review the legal framework and key procedural aspects and principles. What are the perennial problem areas? What are the emerging issues and directions?

Participants break into small workshop groups to discuss and prepare selected cases illustrating the basic principles of the arbitration process. This experiential component of the week features:

          • Case presentations
          • Chairman’s critique and commentary
          • General forum discussion

c) The View Beyond the Barricade: The Union Perspective

This is a program highlight: hear from one of Canada’s leading labour advocates about the most significant trends facing organized labour and the resulting challenges and opportunities for Canadian unions. Prepare to be challenged.

d) Canadian Labour Law at a Crossroads

Change is the rule rather than the exception in the arena of labour law. One of Canada’s preeminent experts in the field discusses important trends such as:

          • The direct and indirect application of the Charter to the workplace
          • The growing influence of human rights requirements
          • The duty to accommodate
          • The crucial role of arbitrators

e) Two Tough D’s: Discipline and Discharge

What are the grounds for discipline? What factors influence disciplinary action? Learn the answers to these vexing questions and how to determine appropriate penalties and the most effective procedures for dealing with innocent absenteeism, insubordination, sexual harassment, and termination.

f) Investigation Techniques

In preparing for an arbitration case, you may have to do some fact-finding on the complainant’s allegations. We give you a step-by-step process for building your plan and winning techniques for interviewing the right people and identifying the key records to be examined. Learn how to interview all parties in an objective manner and assess the investigation results.

g) The Collective Bargaining Process

It is a mystery to some, intimidating to others. You are in good hands as your leader takes you through the negotiation process.

Learn to:

          • Prepare for negotiations
          • Negotiate pre-agreements
          • Negotiate the issues
          • Conclude agreements

h) Collective Bargaining Simulation

Your team will meet in the evening to develop a bargaining strategy, assess priorities and interests and develop an opening statement. Then the team will meet again to negotiate all outstanding issues. Experienced coaches are on the sidelines to observe and offer feedback on the effectiveness of bargaining strategy, skills, and style.

i) LR’s Role: Creating a Higher Performance Culture

Before we send you on your way, we invite you to look at the big picture, and where you fit in that picture. Gain insight into LR’s role in cultural change and learn lessons from past change efforts at CP.


Debbie Cooper

Lead Facilitator

Debbie Cooper

Lead Facilitator

Kenda Murphy

Lead Facilitator

Stephen Bird


Stephen Bird

Guest Speaker

Henry dinsdale


Peter Edwards

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Deborah Cooper

Deborah Cooper is currently the Executive Director of a federal union representing public service employees in multiple bargaining units across Canada, as well as being a facilitator and coach at Queen’s IRC since 2013.  She has been involved in all aspects of labour relations from the internal grievance process to adjudication, having appeared before numerous tribunals and courts. With respect to collective bargaining, she has bargained in various sectors including the federal public service, the private sector, and the non-profit environment. 

Prior to this role, Deborah worked in private practice as an employment and labour lawyer until 2005, moving over to work in-house at two different federal bargaining agents in 2005 and 2009.  From 2012-2013, she then worked on the employer side as a Director in the Labour Relations and Compensation Division of a large federal department. In 2013, she was appointed as General Secretary of the National Joint Council (NJC) of the Public Service of Canada. She was a union-side appointee to the position, having held the post from May 2013 – June 2018.  Among other things, the NJC also manages numerous directives agreed to by the parties, and incorporated into their collective agreements, on items ranging from travel and relocation to the health care plan and the long-term disability plan.

 After her tenure at the NJC, she worked at a large federal union as General Counsel and then from August 2019 until April 2022, she represented workers in the federally-regulated aviation industry as Director of Labour Relations and General Counsel. 

Deborah also lived and worked in various roles overseas in Paris, France for several years, including at the Canadian Embassy. She holds an Honours Bachelor Degree from the University of Ottawa, a Law Degree from the University of Western Ontario, as well as the Certificate in Labour Relations and Certificate in Advanced Human Resources from Queen’s University IRC. She has been a member of the Law Society of Ontario for over 25 years.

Kenda Murphy


Kenda Murphy’s legal career has involved work in the public sector, para-public sector and private sector. Kenda has represented employer clients in collective bargaining negotiations and labour arbitrations while also providing day to day human resources and labour relations advice. Conducting workplace and institutional investigations in both large and small organizations, Kenda has enquired into a wide range of issues including Human Rights Code based harassment and discrimination; workplace harassment; sexual violence and sexual harassment; poisoned work environment; and ethics or codes of conduct breaches. Kenda’s practice background affords her the unique opportunity to bring multilayered understanding to complex workplace interactions and incidents of conflict that arise within those interactions. Kenda is the accredited creator of the testbank questions and powerpoint slide decks for Fiona McQuarrie’s Industrial Relations in Canada, 2nd, 3rd and 4th editions.

Stephen Bird

Stephen Bird is a Partner at the law firm of Bird Richard, and restricts his practice to representing employers in the complete range of labour and employment law matters.

Stephen is a graduate of the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom with a Masters Degree in European Employment Law and a Bachelor of Laws Degree from the University of Ottawa.  He is a member of the Bars of Alberta, Ontario, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.

Stephen has been recognized as one of the Top 100 Employment Law lawyers in Canada, a leading labour law practitioner by LEXPERT, a specialist in labour law by the Law Society of Ontario, and has been inducted as a Fellow of the prestigious American College of Labor and Employment Lawyers.


Henry Dinsdale

Henry Dinsdale is a senior partner at Hicks Morley’s Toronto office. He has been advising and representing employers for over 25 years.  Henry works in both the federal and provincial sectors and has appeared on behalf of employers in proceedings in every province in the country. His practice ranges from providing sophisticated strategic advice, to collective bargaining and labour and employment law advocacy.

Henry is a graduate of Queen’s Law School and has since earned both Masters and PhD degrees in law from Stanford University Law School.  He has taught labour law at the University of Toronto and Queen’s University law schools, at Queen’s Industrial Relations Centre, and in Osgoode Hall Law School’s Masters of Labour Law program. He has sat on the Advisory Committee of the Queen’s University’s Centre for Law in the Cotemporary Workplace since its inception.

Henry is recognized as one of Canada’s leading lawyers in the field of labour and employment law.  He is listed as a leading labour lawyer by Chambers Canada and The Best Lawyers in Canada (Woodward/White).  He is “Consistently Recommended” for both labour and employment law by Lexpert, and appears in the both the Canadian and International Who’s Who of Management Labour and Employment Law.  He is one of six Ontario management labour lawyers named in the “Leading 500 Lawyers” in Canada by The Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory and is described by Martindale-Hubbell as counsel with an “exemplary reputation and high professional standing”.

Peter Edwards

Peter Edwards is the founder and CEO of a privately held polymathic group. Prior to leaving CP to form this endeavour, he was Vice-President Human Resources and Labour Relations at Canadian Pacific from 2010 to 2017 and was responsible for the integrated function across North America. During this tenure, CP performed “the greatest turnaround in corporate history,” according to CNBC.

Prior to joining Canadian Pacific, Peter held senior positions at Labatt Breweries / Interbrew, and Canadian National Railway. During this time, culture change and the high performance organization were part of Peter’s mandate. From working on critically praised books on managing a changing railway (How We Work and Why, and Change, Leadership, Mud, and Why) to establishing individual employee performance scorecards for every one of the 18,500 unionized employees, Peter uses the gamut of OD, HR and LR to continuously re-invent organizations.

In 2008, Wiley Publishing released a book co-authored by Peter, called Switchpoints: Culture Change on the Fast Track. The book is a Canadian bestseller, reaching the top ten business books in Canada in the Globe and Mail.

Peter currently sits on four Boards of Directors that include start-ups and charitable organizations.

Peter holds an undergraduate degree and Master of Industrial Relations degree from Queen’s University.