Microsoft Dealt Title Blow

Quebec Court Sides With Self-Regulating Association

A Quebec court has ruled against Microsoft Canada’s use of the word “engineer” in its international software certification program – a decision which bodes well for legislative wording changes approved by the 84th APEGGA Annual General Meeting in April. The AGM voted in favour of recommending that the Alberta Government make a statutory amendment to the Engineering, Geological and Geophysical Professions Act to strengthen right-to-title provisions and APEGGA’s authority to protect them.

Judge Claude Millette of the Court of Quebec ruled that Microsoft Canada contravenes a Quebec provincial code with its Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer designation. The proposed new Alberta wording of the EGGP Act is closely aligned with the Quebec wording.

“ We were anxiously awaiting this decision, and we’re very happy that it favours our sister organization in Quebec,” said APEGGA Executive Director & Registrar Neil Windsor, P.Eng. “This is more ammunition for us in our legislated role of making sure the public is not misled by illegally used titles.”

L’Qrdre de ingéniéurs du Québec brought the action against Microsoft under Quebec’s Professional Code. Director General Denis Leblanc, ing., said the Quebec association originally held off in its action against Microsoft Canada because it believed the company would drop engineer from its MCSE designation.

Mr. Leblanc told the April 23 edition of Computing Canada: “There is a risk for the public to be fooled by people who pretend to be an engineer without having gone through a university-approved program in engineering. Our job is to make sure we protect the public against any misconception about the way the real engineers practice.”

APEGGA Council began the process of strengthening the EGGP Act after a court loss in November 2003. An Edmonton man won an appeal and can continue calling himself a “systems engineer” or “systems engineer representative,” even though he is not an APEGGA member and is not a professional engineer.

The Association contends that Raymond Merhej is misleading the public when he uses the titles. APEGGA filed an injunction to stop him, but the Court of Queen’s Bench did not agree and the Court of Appeal upheld the decision.

The decision did not sit well with APEGGA or Council. The ability to enforce the reserve title and practice provisions is considered fundamental to the Association’s self-regulating and public protection mandate.

The statutory change recommendations stress that the words engineer, geologist and geophysicist can’t be used “alone or in combination with any other title, description, letter, symbol or abbreviation that may represent expressly or by implication that the individual, corporation, partnership or other entity” is a professional engineer, professional geologist, professional geophysicist, licensee or permit holder.

One of the key changes is the addition of the word “may” in front of “represent expressly.” That takes away the need to demonstrate a misused title actually misleads – if there’s any chance it misleads, the new wording makes it illegal.
There are right-to-title exceptions. APEGGA’s right does not extend to uses covered by any other enactment.

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