Supreme Court won't hear Alberta union's constitutional challenge of Bill 1

·2 min read
AUPE asked the Supreme Court for leave to appeal the ruling. The court declined without providing reasons why, as it does in all of its leave to appeal denials. (Michel Aspirot/CBC - image credit)
AUPE asked the Supreme Court for leave to appeal the ruling. The court declined without providing reasons why, as it does in all of its leave to appeal denials. (Michel Aspirot/CBC - image credit)

The Supreme Court of Canada has decided not to hear an appeal of a decision on the constitutionality of the United Conservative Party government's Critical Infrastructure Defence Act.

The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees challenged the law, also known as Bill 1, after it came into force in June 2020.

AUPE argued the law is unconstitutional as it would prohibit picketing of what the government deemed "essential infrastructure" during labour disputes and hurt its ability to engage in collective bargaining.

The union wanted the court to declare Bill 1 unconstitutional.

In December, the Alberta Court of Appeal dismissed the AUPE's claim, ruling that the union had no standing in the case because none of its members have been charged under the act. The court said AUPE was basing its arguments on "hypothetical" situations.

AUPE asked the Supreme Court for leave to appeal the ruling. The court declined without providing reasons why, as it does in all of its leave to appeal denials. The Alberta Court of Appeal decision stands.

Eric Adams, a law professor at the University of Alberta, wasn't surprised the Supreme Court declined to hear the case.

"For a legal challenge to fully come before the courts, you need evidence," Adams said.

"You need evidence of how it actually is operating on people's lives, what rights and freedoms it actually is impacting.

"And the (Alberta) Court of Appeals said, since we don't have any of that evidence, we don't have any of that information, and the claim could not proceed."

Bill 1 was introduced in response to the blockades of CN rail lines by Indigenous protesters in January 2020.

The bill levies hefty fines against individuals or companies found to have blocked, damaged or illegally entered any "essential infrastructure" including pipelines, rail lines, highways, oil sites, telecommunications equipment, radio towers, electrical lines, dams and farms.

Artur Pawlowski, the controversial Calgary street preacher, was charged under the act in February. He was accused of inciting protesters at the border blockade in Coutts, Alta.

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