United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 401 v. Privacy Commissioner (Alta.) et al. 2012 ABCA 130
Civil Rights - Freedom of speech or expression - Limitations on - Picketing (incl. recording of)
The United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 401 (UFCW) sought judicial review of a decision by an Adjudicator for the office of the Privacy Commissioner under Alberta’s Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA). UFCW alleged that the provisions of PIPA that prohibited the Union from recording (either by photo or video) its lawful picket line was an infringement of its s. 2(b) rights under the Charter. The Attorney General of Alberta was the only participating respondent in the judicial review.
The Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench, in a decision reported at 509 A.R. 150, granted UFCW’s application for judicial review. The court found that: (a) the exception in s. 4(3)(c) of PIPA that applied only to an organization that had a journalistic purpose and no other purpose infringed s. 2(b) and was not justified under s. 1 of the Charter; and (b) the provisions in PIPA that prohibited an organization from collecting, using and disclosing personal information collected at a public, political demonstration, like a picket line, infringed s. 2(b) and were not justified under s. 1. The Adjudicator’s decision was quashed to the extent that it relied on the impugned provisions. The court granted a declaration that the phrase “and for no other purpose” in s. 4(3)(c) was of no force or effect. As the remedy for the breach occasioned by the narrow definition of “publicly available” in s. 7 of the PIPA Regulation, the court declared s. 7 to be of no force or effect, but suspended the declaration of invalidity for 12 months. The Attorney General appealed.
The Alberta Court of Appeal allowed the appeal only to the extent that the court varied the remedy granted by the chambers judge. In place of the declarations of invalidity, the court granted a declaration that the application of PIPA to the activities of the Union was unconstitutional. The order quashing the offending portions of the Adjudicator’s decision was affirmed.