After the Supreme Court of Canada made a number of decisions enlarging the scope of the fundamental freedom of association in the field of labour relations, in British Columbia Teachers Federation v. British Columbia, 2015 BCCA 184, the British Columbia Court of Appeal has slowed its growth and given some considered discussion of the Supreme Court’s recent pronouncements in the field. A majority of four of a five member panel led by Chief Justice Bauman and Mr. Justice Harris reviewed the law respecting freedom of association, including the recent decisions of the Supreme Court in Mounted Police Association of Ontario v. Canada (Attorney General), 2015 SCC 1 (“MPAO“)and Saskatchewan Federation of Labour v. Saskatchewan, 2015 SCC 4 (“SFL“). Their comments provide penetrating insights as to one approach to understand the newly reconstructed freedom of association.
The Supreme Court of Canada recently pronounced on the appropriateness of a municipal council insisting on a prayer before holding its meetings. In Mouvement Laique Quebecois v. Saguenuay (City), 2015 SCC 16, Justice Gascon for the majority (Abella J dissenting on the question of the variable test for judicial review of administrative tribunals) held that City of Saguenay’s bylaw which provided for the use of such a prayer, even if it did not derive from any particular denomination, nonetheless offended the freedom of religion of atheists and agnostics (the freedom not to believe) and was therefore inoperative.
Edward McWhinney, Q.C.
On May 19, 2015, Canada lost one of her great constitutional scholars. Edward (“Ted”) McWhinney, Queen’s Counsel, former Liberal Member of Parliament for Vancouver Quadra, and constitutional and international law expert passed away on his 91st birthday. Ted McWhinney was born in New South Wales, and then educated first in Australia and later at Yale where he obtained his doctorate in constitutional and international law. Along the way, Canada became the lucky beneficiary of this citizen of the world who made Canada his home and eventually his nationality. He was fluent in English, French, German and Russian, and authored 24 books, three of which were in French or German, and countless papers of distinction. He was the first Canadian to be elected to the Institut du droit international based in Geneva and was actually that Institut’s president from 1999-2001. He ended his career as a university professor as a professor emeritus with Simon Fraser University. His full obituary was published in the Province. Thank you, Ted McWhinney, for your contributions to Canada and to the world. We are all richer because of your brilliance and your life’s work.