Through the Looking Glass: Mediator Conceptions of Philosophy, Process and Power


  • Colleen M. Hanycz



While a number of civil reforms using mediation emerged across Canada in recent years, of particular interest is the Ontario Mandatory Mediation Program Mediation Program that was first piloted in 1999, deemed successful and then made a permanent feature of the Rules of Civil Procedure in 2001. This article suggests that before we can evaluate the outcomes of mandatory mediation, we must first look more closely at the process being implemented by the mediators in this context. With that in mind, this article considers the ways in which the mediators themselves perceive of the mediation process. It reports on a qualitative study that examined the nature of mediator views on the topics of, inter alia, settlement orientation and mediator power. This article advances the claim that mediator power Is, in fact, far greater than that held by the disputants or their advocates. This article suggests that this power, in the context of a mandatory mediation scheme, creates mediator self-interest in achieving high rates of settlement, regardless of whether or not settlement is in the best interests of the disputants in every situation.