Cooper v. Canadian Human Rights Commission, (1996) 204 N.R. 1 (SCC)

JudgeMcLachlin and Iacobucci, JJ.
CourtSupreme Court of Canada
Case DateNovember 21, 1996
JurisdictionCanada (Federal)
Citations(1996), 204 N.R. 1 (SCC);1996 CanLII 152 (SCC);40 CRR (2d) 81;[1996] 3 SCR 854;[1996] SCJ No 115 (QL);43 Admin LR (2d) 155;[1996] ACS no 115;[1996] CarswellNat 1693;204 NR 1;140 DLR (4th) 193;26 CCEL (2d) 1

Cooper v. CHRC (1996), 204 N.R. 1 (SCC)

MLB headnote and full text

[French language version follows English language version]

[La version française vient à la suite de la version anglaise]

....................

David John Cooper (appellant) v. Canadian Human Rights Commission and Canadian Airlines International Ltd. (respondents)

Noel Edwin Bell (appellant) v. Canadian Human Rights Commission and Canadian Airlines International Ltd. (respondents)

(24134, 24135)

Indexed As: Cooper v. Canadian Human Rights Commission

Supreme Court of Canada

Lamer, C.J.C., La Forest,

L'Heureux-Dubé, Sopinka, Gonthier,

McLachlin and Iacobucci, JJ.

November 21, 1996.

Summary:

Bell and Cooper were airline pilots employed by Canadian Airlines International Ltd. Upon reaching the age of 60, they were informed by Canadian that they would be retired in accordance with the terms of the collective agreement between the pilots and the company. Bell and Cooper complained to the Canadian Human Rights Commission, alleging discrimination on the basis of age. The Commission appointed an investigator. The investigator recommended that the complaints be dismissed. The Commission informed Bell and Cooper that an inquiry was not warranted. Bell and Cooper applied for judicial review.

The Federal Court of Canada, Trial Divi­sion, dismissed the applications. See 54 F.T.R. 96 for the decision respecting Coop­er's application. Bell and Cooper appealed.

The Federal Court of Appeal dismissed the appeals. See 167 N.R. 17 for the decision respecting Cooper's appeal. Bell and Cooper appealed.

The Supreme Court of Canada, McLachlin and L'Heureux-Dubé, JJ., dissenting, dis­missed the appeals.

Administrative Law - Topic 9013

Boards and tribunals - Jurisdiction - General - Constitutional questions - The Supreme Court of Canada held that the Canadian Human Rights Commission had no jurisdiction under the Canadian Human Rights Act to subject provisions of that statute to constitutional scrutiny - Similar­ly, a tribunal appointed at the request of the Commission was also without jurisdic­tion to determine the constitutional validity of limiting provisions of the Act - See paragraph 37.

Administrative Law - Topic 9013

Boards and tribunals - Jurisdiction - General - Constitutional questions - The Supreme Court of Canada stated that while the Canadian Human Rights Commission had power to interpret and apply its enabling statute, it did not follow that it had jurisdiction to address general ques­tions of law - The court rejected an argu­ment that because the Commission often determined whether a given complaint fell within the federal sphere pursuant to the constitutional division of powers, then it followed that it had jurisdiction to consider constitutional questions in general - The court stated that the process of the Com­mission in determining its jurisdiction over a given complaint through reference to the provisions of the Act was conceptually different from subjecting the same provi­sions to Charter scrutiny - See paragraphs 25 to 27.

Civil Rights - Topic 995

Discrimination - Employment - Age - Retirement - Two airline pilots com­plained to the Canadian Human Rights Commission because they were forced to retire at age 60 - The Commission dis­missed the complaints because the pilots' employment was terminated as a result of their reaching the normal age of retirement for airline pilots within the meaning of s. 15(c) of the Canadian Human Rights Act - The pilots had argued that s. 15(c) dis­criminated on the basis of age and violated s. 15 of the Charter - The Federal Court of Appeal held that the Commission had no choice but to decide as it did, because it did not have the power to dis­pute the constitutional validity of legisla­tive provi­sions governing its activity - The Supreme Court of Canada dismissed the pilots' appeals.

Civil Rights - Topic 7061

Federal or provincial legislation - Com­missions or boards - Jurisdiction - Gen­eral - [See both Administrative Law - Topic 9013 and Civil Rights - Topic 995 ].

Civil Rights - Topic 8363

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms - Denial of rights - Jurisdiction - [See Civil Rights - Topic 995 ].

Civil Rights - Topic 8504

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms - Enforcement - Jurisdiction - [See Civil Rights - Topic 995 ].

Cases Noticed:

McKinney v. University of Guelph et al., [1990] 3 S.C.R. 229; 118 N.R. 1; 45 O.A.C. 1; 76 D.L.R.(4th) 545; 2 C.R.R.(2d) 1, refd to. [para. 3].

Douglas/Kwantlen Faculty Association v. Douglas College, [1990] 3 S.C.R. 570; 118 N.R. 340; 77 D.L.R.(4th) 94, consd. [para. 11].

Cuddy Chicks Ltd. v. Labour Relations Board (Ont.) et al., [1991] 2 S.C.R. 5; 122 N.R. 361; 47 O.A.C. 271, consd. [para. 11].

Tétreault-Gadoury v. Canada Employment and Immigration Commission, [1991] 2 S.C.R. 22; 126 N.R. 1; 81 D.L.R.(4th) 358, consd. [para. 11].

Canada (Attorney General) v. Mossop, [1993] 1 S.C.R. 554; 149 N.R. 1, refd to. [para. 22].

Syndicat des employés de production du Québec et de l'Acadie v. Commission canadienne des droits de la personne, [1989] 2 S.C.R. 879; 100 N.R. 241, refd to. [para. 23].

Gould v. Yukon Order of Pioneers Dawson Lodge No. 1 et al., [1996] 1 S.C.R. 571; 194 N.R. 81; 72 B.C.A.C. 1; 119 W.A.C. 1, refd to. [para. 31].

Druken et al. v. Canada (Attorney Gen­eral), [1989] 2 F.C. 24; 88 N.R. 150 (F.C.A.), refd to. [para. 34].

Public Service Alliance of Canada v. Qu'Appelle Indian Residential School Council (1986), 7 C.H.R.R. D/3600 (Cdn. Human Rights Trib.), refd to. [para. 34].

Nealy v. Johnston (1989), 10 C.H.R.R. D/6450 (Cdn. Human Rights Trib.), refd to. [para. 34].

Taylor and Western Guard Party v. Cana­dian Human Rights Commission, [1990] 3 S.C.R. 892; 117 N.R. 191, refd to. [para. 34].

Fraser v. Public Service Staff Relations Board, [1985] 2 S.C.R. 455; 63 N.R. 161, refd to. [para. 48].

R. v. Power (E.), [1994] 1 S.C.R. 601; 165 N.R. 241; 117 Nfld. & P.E.I.R. 269; 365 A.P.R. 269, refd to. [para. 48].

Residential Tenancies Act of Ontario, Re, [1981] 1 S.C.R. 714; 37 N.R. 158, refd to. [para. 48].

MacMillan Bloedel Ltd. v. Simpson et al., [1995] 4 S.C.R. 725; 191 N.R. 260; 68 B.C.A.C. 161; 112 W.A.C. 161, refd to. [para. 49].

Crevier v. Quebec (Attorney General) et al., [1981] 2 S.C.R. 220; 38 N.R. 541, refd to. [para. 49].

Beauregard v. Canada, [1986] 2 S.C.R. 56; 70 N.R. 1, refd to. [para. 50].

R. v. Valente, [1985] 2 S.C.R. 673; 64 N.R. 1; 14 O.A.C. 79; 49 C.R.(3d) 97; 23 C.C.C.(3d) 193, refd to. [para. 52].

Hills v. Canada (Attorney General), [1988] 1 S.C.R. 513; 84 N.R. 86; 48 D.L.R.(4th) 193; 88 C.L.L.C. 14,011, refd to. [para. 59].

R. v. Nova Scotia Pharmaceutical Society et al. (No. 2), [1992] 2 S.C.R. 606; 139 N.R. 241; 114 N.S.R.(2d) 91; 313 A.P.R. 91, refd to. [para. 59].

Constitutional Amendment References 1981 (Manitoba, Newfoundland and Quebec), [1981] 1 S.C.R. 753; 39 N.R. 1, refd to. [para. 60].

Harvey v. New Brunswick (Attorney Gen­eral) et al. (1996), 201 N.R. 1; 178 N.B.R.(2d) 161; 454 A.P.R. 161 (S.C.C.), refd to. [para. 62].

New Brunswick Broadcasting Co. and Canadian Broadcasting Corp. v. Speaker of the House of Assembly (N.S.) et al., [1993] 1 S.C.R. 319; 146 N.R. 161; 118 N.S.R.(2d) 181; 327 A.P.R. 181, refd to. [para. 65].

Rosen, Re, [1987] 3 F.C. 238; 80 N.R. 47 (F.C.A.), refd to. [para. 74].

Weber v. Ontario Hydro, [1995] 2 S.C.R. 929; 183 N.R. 241; 82 O.A.C. 321, refd to. [para. 81].

R. v. Mills, [1986] 1 S.C.R. 863; 67 N.R. 241; 16 O.A.C. 81; 52 C.R.(3d) 1; 26 C.C.C.(3d) 481; 29 D.L.R.(4th) 161; 21 C.R.R. 76, refd to. [para. 82].

Insurance Corp. of British Columbia v. Heerspink et al., [1982] 2 S.C.R. 145; 43 N.R. 168, refd to. [para. 99].

Shewchuck v. Ricard (1986), 28 D.L.R.(4th) 429 (B.C.C.A.), refd to. [para. 99].

Statutes Noticed:

Canadian Human Rights Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. H-6, sect. 15(c) [para. 2].

Authors and Works Noticed:

Anisman, Philip, Jurisdiction of Adminis­trative Tribunals to Apply the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, in Special Lectures of the Law Society of Upper Canada 1992: Administrative Law: Principles, Practice and Pluralism, pp. 113, 114 [para. 56].

Evans, J.M., Administrative Tribunals and Charter Challenges (1989), 2 C.J.A.L.P. 13, generally [para. 49].

Finkelstein, Neil R., and Rogers, Brian MacLeod, Administrative Tribunals and the Charter (1990), p. 11 [para. 56].

Hogg, Peter W., Constitutional Law of Canada (3rd Ed. 1992), p. 168 [para. 54].

Kuttner, Thomas, Courts, Labour Tribunals and the Charter (1990), 39 U.N.B.L.J. 85, pp. 95 [para. 54]; 97 [para. 63].

Macaulay, Robert W., and Sprague, James L.H., Practice and Procedure Before Administrative Tribunals (1995), p. 23-28 [para. 56].

McAllister, Debra M., Administrative Tribunals and the Charter: A Tale of Form Conquering Substance, in Special Lectures of the Law Society of Upper Canada 1992: Administrative Law: Prin­ciples, Practice and Pluralism, p. 150 [para. 45].

Priest, Margot, Charter Procedure in Ad­ministrative Cases: The Tribunal's Per­spective (1994), 7 C.J.A.L.P. 151, p. 154 [para. 45].

Roman, Andrew J., Tribunals Deciding Charter of Rights Questions: The Trilogy of the Supreme Court of Canada - Douglas College, Cuddy Chicks, and Tétreault-Gadoury (1992), 1 Admin. L.R.(2d) 243, pp. 252 [para. 56]; 254 [para. 45].

Taman, Larry, Jurisdiction of Administra­tive Tribunals to Consider Charter Argu­ments, in Neil R. Finkelstein and Brian MacLeod Rogers, Administrative Tri­bunals and the Charter (1990), p. 11 [para. 56].

Counsel:

David John Cooper appeared on his own behalf;

Noel Edwin Bell appeared on his own behalf;

René Duval and William F. Pentney, for the respondent, Canadian Human Rights Commission;

Rhys Davies and Jennifer Duprey, for the respondent, Canadian Airlines Interna­tional Ltd.;

Andrew Raven and David Yazbeck, for the amicus curiae.

Solicitors of Record:

Canadian Human Rights Commission, Ottawa, Ontario, for the respondent, Canadian Human Rights Commission;

Davis & Company, Vancouver, British Columbia, for the respondent, Canadian Airlines International Ltd.

Raven, Jewitt & Allen, Ottawa, Ontario, for the amicus curiae.

This appeal was heard on June 18, 1996, before Lamer, C.J.C., La Forest, L'Heureux-Dubé, Sopinka, Gonthier, McLachlin and Iacobucci, JJ., of the Supreme Court of Canada.

The judgment of the court was delivered in both official languages on November 21, 1996, and the following opinions were filed:

La Forest, J. (Sopinka, Gonthier and Iacobucci, JJ., concurring) - see para­graphs 1 to 38;

Lamer, C.J.C. - see paragraphs 39 to 68;

McLachlin, J., dissenting (L'Heureux-Dubé, J., concurring) - see paragraphs 69 to 109.

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