Union says Critical Infrastructure Act violates the rights of Albertan
EDMONTON – The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) is today (Friday, Feb. 11) moving to take its constitutional challenge to Alberta’s Critical Infrastructure Defence Act, commonly referred to as Bill 1, to the Supreme Court of Canada.
The union, which represents 95,000 workers, is seeking leave to have the Supreme Court hear an application to overturn a decision by the Albert Court of Appeal. The appeal court ruled in December 2021 that AUPE had no standing to bring the claim because no one had yet been charged under the Act.
“AUPE says that Bill 1 violates the rights of Albertans and is an attack on the freedom to take part in peaceful protests,” says Patrick Nugent, counsel for AUPE. “It prohibits public protest and picketing on a vast swath of public property, including sidewalks and boulevards. AUPE views it as a threat to its ability to effectively take strike and picket action on behalf of members.”
The grounds for AUPE seeking take the case to go to the Supreme Court are:
- The Court of Appeal erred in finding that AUPE’s challenge to Bill 1 was based solely on hypotheticals, when AUPE pled and argued that AUPE and its members were experiencing a current chilling effect from Bill 1’s prohibitions;
- The Court of Appeal erred in finding that until AUPE or one of its members is actually charged with an offence under Bill 1, AUPE has no standing to bring a challenge to it. The Court of Appeal’s finding means that AUPE’s members and all Albertans have to live under the spectre of unconstitutional legislation; and
- The Court of Appeal applied the wrong test in assessing whether to strike AUPE’s claim at this stage of the litigation by failing to find that AUPE had standing to bring this challenge to the legislation on behalf of its members.
“AUPE believes that peaceful protesting is a cornerstone of our democracy and that the aim of the government is to use Critical Infrastructure Defence Act to silence opposition to its policies,” says Nugent.
“Alberta government leaders have spoken at length about using Bill 1 against environmental protests and have a track record of attacking unions and workers,” adds AUPE President Guy Smith. “The fact that the government and police waited so long to charge anyone under Bill 1 during the border protests at Coutts and aren’t using the Act to shut down the protests entirely suggests that this will be a law that is imposed only on those with whom the government does not agree.”
Patrick Nugent is available for comment.
He can be reached at:
T: 780 439 3232
C: 780 901 1572
AUPE president Guy Smith is not available for comment.