This was a busy week at the Supreme Court of Canada, with numerous developments likely to be of interest to Canadian businesses.
A very significant labour law appeal — Saskatchewan Federation of Labour v. Saskatchewan, on appeal from the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal — was argued on May 16, 2014. At issue was a Charter challenge to two pieces of provincial legislation. The statutes had, respectively, (i) introduced restrictions on the ability of public sector workers who provide essential services to engage in strike activity, and (ii) changed existing provincial labour legislation to make it more difficult for unions to obtain certification as bargaining agents and to broaden the scope of permissible communications between employers and their employees. A link to the recorded proceedings can be found here. A link to the facta of the parties and of the (many) interveners can be found here.
In addition, the Supreme Court refused leave to appeal in a significant number of interesting and relevant proceedings:
The Court refused to grant leave in Cold Lake First Nations v. The Queen in Right of Alberta, in which a divided Alberta Court of Appeal had permitted a campground development to go forward, after finding that the provincial government had fulfilled its duty to consult with the affected First Nation.
The Court likewise refused to grant leave in ACE INA Insurance v. Associated Electric & Gas Insurance Services Limited, in which the Ontario Court of Appeal had determined a dispute between a primary insurer and an excess insurer — relating to the insurers’ liability to defend following an explosion in an electrical transformer — by confirming that the excess insurer had no duty to make equitable contribution.
Leave was also refused in an appeal from the Québec Court of Appeal — Lyne Trudeau v. Fraternité des policiers et policières de Montréal — in which an injunction had been granted, removing a senior union official from her position (based on allegations of illegal conduct and breaches of various duties).
The Supreme Court refused to grant leave to appeal in Ganitano v. Metro Vancouver Housing Corporation, a ruling in which the British Columbia Court of Appeal had confirmed that the equitable remedy of relief from forfeiture (under s. 24 of the B.C. Law and Equity Act) was not available under the provincial Residential Tenancy Act.
Leave was also refused in a second appeal from British Columbia — Hungerford Tomyn Lawrenson and Nichols v. Wilson — in which the BCCA had ruled that a law firm’s recovery of $16 million under a contingency agreement should be reduced to $5 million.
Lastly, the Supreme Court refused to grant leave to appeal the ruling of the Federal Court of Appeal in Kossow v. Canada. The FCA had dismissed the taxpayer’s appeal of her reassessment, rejecting claimed income tax credits generated through a leveraged charitable donation program.