Top court shuts down picket line privacy

Alberta’s privacy law deemed unconstitutional
By Liz Foster
|Canadian Labour Reporter|Last Updated: 12/02/2013

Following a Supreme Court of Canada ruling, the Alberta government is working to strike the right balance between the right to privacy and the right to freedom of expression.

The Supreme Court found Alberta’s Personal Information Privacy Act (PIPA) violated a union’s right to free expression. A nine-member panel unanimously ruled the privacy legislation was unconstitutional, saying it violated the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 401’s right to free speech by blocking its ability to photograph and film workers crossing a picket line.

The picket line in question was part of a 305-day strike at the Palace Casino in the West Edmonton Mall in 2006. UFCW Local 401 and the company’s management-hired security firm filmed and photographed the picket line in front of the casino’s entrance. The union posted signs warning images of workers crossing the picket line could be posted online.