Ottawa – The Supreme Court of Canada will release its decision on Friday, November 15, 2013 in Information and Privacy Commissioner, et al. v. United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 401, et al.
This case concerns the United Food and Commercial Workers union, Local 401, which represents the workers at the Palace Casino in Edmonton. During 2006, the union went on strike to protest working conditions. The union formed a picket line. The union posted a sign stating that the union might videotape individuals who crossed the picket line and post those images on a website.
Several individuals who the union recorded crossing the picket line filed complaints with the Alberta Privacy Commissioner. The Commissioner decided that the union did not have the right to make or use the video because it was a violation of the individuals’ right to privacy. The Court of Appeal of Alberta determined that by restricting the union members’ ability to use the video, the privacy legislation at issue infringed the union members’ right to free expression.
The BCCLA is an intervener in the case. We argued that the Supreme Court of Canada must balance the right to privacy against the freedom of expression very carefully in the context of a labour dispute. A labour dispute, at its core, involves free expression and expressive actions. Freedom of expression includes the right to communicate one’s ideas and opinions, and is one of the most fundamental freedoms.
Picketing is the key way a union communicates about a labour dispute. Videotaping a picket line is a way for union members to express their views freely. It informs workers and the public about a strike. The BCCLA argued that the expressive act of videotaping at a picket line must be protected, and that an absolute ban on unions videotaping at a picket line is unjustified. The BCCLA also argued that Alberta’s privacy legislation fails to strike an appropriate balance between the protection of privacy and the freedom of expression.
The BCCLA is represented by Lindsay Lyster and Jessica Derynck of Moore Edgar Lyster.
The BCCLA’s argument in the case is available here >>
What: Supreme Court of Canada to deliver its decision in Information and Privacy Commissioner, et al. v. UFCW, Local 401, et al.
When: Reasons for judgment will be delivered on Friday, November 15, 2013 at 6:45 am PST / 9:45 am EST
Where: Supreme Court of Canada (Ottawa, ON)
Who: Lawyer for the BCCLA available for comment