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AUPE launches constitutional challenge against government’s Bill 1

Union says Bill 1 violates Charter of Rights and Freedoms in multiple ways

Jun 23, 2020

AUPE launches constitutional challenge against government’s Bill 1

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EDMONTON – The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) is launching a constitutional challenge against the UCP government’s controversial Bill 1 the Critical Infrastructure Defence Act.

“This Bill violates the rights of Albertans. It is an attack on our freedom to take part in peaceful protests, which is recognized as an essential part of democracy,” said Guy Smith, president of AUPE, Western Canada’s largest union.

“This is the kind of law we would expect to see in an oppressive dictatorship.”

In a statement of claim being filed at the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta this morning (Tuesday, June 23), the union claims the Bill breaches a number of very important Charter rights and that it will “substantially hinder AUPE’s ability to meaningfully engage in the collective bargaining process.”

The problems with the Bill have been well-documented and include concerns about the Bill’s criminalization of important speech, assembly and association rights as well as concerns about what the Bill actually means, which AUPE argues is rooted in the Bill’s vagueness and overbreadth.

“We will fight this all the way to the Supreme Court and we will defend any and all AUPE members or staff who are caught in the Bill’s cross-hairs,” Smith vowed.

“In the past month, we have pledged to stand in solidarity with Indigenous Albertans and Black Albertans and we have always stood hand-in-hand with our fellow workers across sectors,” said Smith. “This Bill attempts to criminalize that solidarity.

“It’s obvious the government’s intent is to crush opposition against their unpopular policies and reckless cuts to services,” he added.

“The lack of clarity in this Bill causes us grave concern, particularly because the government can secretly expand the definition of “essential infrastructure” without warning, and without democratic oversight,” Smith continued.

As many observers have noted, what limited clarity the Bill does possess makes it clear that “essential infrastructure” can include sidewalks, boulevards and ditches, which is hugely problematic for many meaningful demonstrations and gatherings.

“Our members and all citizens deserve to know what the law is and what it means before the state starts punishing them for violating it. The lack of clear enforcement guidelines will create confusion and conflict, not prevent it,” Smith said.

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AUPE President Guy Smith and legal counsel Patrick Nugent will be available for comment at 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday, June 23, 2020 on the east side of Edmonton Law Courts Building (97 Street entrance).

For further information, please contact: Mimi Williams, AUPE Communications Officer: 780-930-3416

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  • Media release

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