Ombudsman (Alta.) v. Human Rights and Citizenship Commission (Alta.), (2008) 443 A.R. 74 (QB)

JudgeTopolniski, J.
CourtCourt of Queen's Bench of Alberta (Canada)
Case DateMarch 13, 2008
Citations(2008), 443 A.R. 74 (QB);2008 ABQB 168

Ombudsman v. HRCC (2008), 443 A.R. 74 (QB)

MLB headnote and full text

Temp. Cite: [2008] A.R. TBEd. AP.044

Ombudsman for the Province of Alberta (applicant) v. Chief Commissioner, Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission (respondent)

(0703 12462; 2008 ABQB 168)

Indexed As: Ombudsman (Alta.) v. Human Rights and Citizenship Commission (Alta.)

Alberta Court of Queen's Bench

Judicial District of Edmonton

Topolniski, J.

March 13, 2008.

Summary:

A citizen's complaint to the Human Rights and Citizenship Commission was dismissed. Rather than seek judicial review, the citizen complained to the Ombudsman. After investigating, the Ombudsman recommended an addendum to the Chief Commissioner's decision to address a perceived failing. The Chief Commissioner declined to implement the recommendation. The Ombudsman applied for a declaration as to his jurisdiction to review and make recommendations regarding the Chief Commissioner's decisions.

The Alberta Court of Queen's Bench held that the Ombudsman was empowered to investigate the Chief Commissioner's decision and the Chief Commissioner was entitled to implement the Ombudsman's recommendation if he so chose.

Civil Rights - Topic 7005

Federal, provincial or territorial legislation - General - Effect of human rights legislation on conflicting legislation - [See Ombudsman - Topic 4 ].

Ombudsman - Topic 4

General - Interpretation of ombudsman legislation - A citizen's complaint to the Human Rights and Citizenship Commission was dismissed - Rather than seek judicial review, the citizen complained to the Ombudsman - After investigating, the Ombudsman recommended an addendum to the Chief Commissioner's decision to address a perceived failing - The Chief Commissioner declined to implement the recommendation - The Ombudsman applied for a declaration as to his jurisdiction to review and make recommendations regarding the Chief Commissioner's decisions - At issue was the effect of s. 21.1 of the Ombudsman Act (the reconsideration clause) and ss. 1(1) (the supremacy clause) and 35 (the finality clause) of the Human Rights, Citizenship and Multiculturalism Act (HRC&M Act) on the Ombudsman's jurisdiction - The Alberta Court of Queen's Bench held that the Ombudsman was empowered to investigate the Chief Commissioner's decision and the Chief Commissioner was entitled to implement the Ombudsman's recommendation if he so chose - Section 1(1) of the HRC&M Act gave primacy to the protected substantive rights and freedoms - It was not designed to insulate the Chief Commissioner's decisions by extending to him that same primacy - Similarly, the finality clause (s. 35), which provided that the Chief Commissioner's decisions were final and binding on the parties, subject to judicial review, was about process, not the protection of substantive human rights - Nothing in s. 12 (investigatory power) or 21.1 (the reconsideration clause) of the Ombudsman Act authorized or condoned interference with the substantive rights protected by the HRC&M Act - There was no discernable operational conflict - The reconsideration clause was not rendered inoperable by the interplay of the human rights legislation and the finality and supremacy clauses - The legislators of the day considered statutory impediments such as the finality and supremacy clauses when they empowered decision-makers to reconsider their decisions under s. 21.1 of the Ombudsman Act - See paragraphs 30 to 53.

Ombudsman - Topic 1406

Jurisdiction - General - Respecting recommendations - [See Ombudsman - Topic 4 ].

Ombudsman - Topic 1470

Jurisdiction - Power to investigate - Decision, act, recommendation or omission - [See Ombudsman - Topic 4 ].

Cases Noticed:

British Columbia Development Corp. v. Ombudsman, [1984] 2 S.C.R. 447; 55 N.R. 298, refd to. [para. 7, footnote 4].

British Columbia Development Corp. v. Friedmann - see British Columbia Development Corp. v. Ombudsman.

Alberta Ombudsman Act, Re (1970), 10 D.L.R.(3d) 47 (Alta. S.C.), refd to. [para. 8, footnote 5].

Vriend et al. v. Alberta, [1998] 1 S.C.R. 493; 224 N.R. 1; 212 A.R. 237; 168 W.A.C. 237, refd to. [para. 20, footnote 6].

Gramaglia v. Alberta (Minister of Government Services) et al. (2007), 404 A.R. 233; 394 W.A.C. 233; 2007 ABCA 93, refd to. [para. 20, footnote 6].

Gwinner et al. v. Alberta (2002), 321 A.R. 279; 217 D.L.R.(4th) 341; 2002 ABQB 685, refd to. [para. 20, footnote 6].

British Columbia v. Tozer et al., [1998] B.C.T.C. Uned. F67; [1998] 7 W.W.R. 349; 60 B.C.L.R.(3d) 160 (S.C.), refd to. [para. 20, footnote 6].

Cooper v. Canadian Human Rights Commission, [1996] 3 S.C.R. 854; 204 N.R. 1, refd to. [para. 22, footnote 8].

Mis v. Human Rights and Citizenship Commission (Alta.) (2001), 293 A.R. 391; 257 W.A.C. 391; 2001 ABCA 212, refd to. [para. 23].

Canadian Broadcasting Corp. v. Paul (2001), 274 N.R. 47; 198 D.L.R.(4th) 633; 2001 FCA 93, refd to. [para. 23, footnote 10].

Syndicat des employés de production du Québec et de l'Acadie v. Commission canadienne des droits de la personne et al., [1989] 2 S.C.R. 879; 100 N.R. 241, refd to. [para. 23, footnote 10].

Bigsby v. Human Rights and Citizenship Commission (Alta.) et al. (2002), 318 A.R. 144; 2002 ABQB 574, affd. (2005), 363 A.R. 162; 343 W.A.C. 162; 2005 ABCA 52, refd to. [para. 23, footnote 10].

Economic Development Edmonton v. Wong et al. (2005), 371 A.R. 362; 354 W.A.C. 362; 2005 ABCA 278, refd to. [para. 23, footnote 10].

St. Albert and Area Student Health Initiative Partnership v. Polczer et al. (2007), 447 A.R. 27; 2007 ABQB 692, refd to. [para. 23, footnote 10].

Calgary (City) v. Cabalde (2003), 320 A.R. 314; 288 W.A.C. 314; 2003 ABCA 39, refd to. [para. 32, footnote 12].

Calgary (City) v. Human Rights and Citizenship Commission (Alta.) - see Calgary (City) v. Cabalde.

Pushpanathan v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration), [1998] 1 S.C.R. 982, addendum [1998] 1 S.C.R. 1222; 226 N.R. 201, refd to. [para. 32, footnote 12].

Ombudsman v. Ontario Labour Relations Board (1987), 18 O.A.C. 215; 44 D.L.R.(4th) 312; 58 O.R.(2d) 225 (C.A.), leave to appeal dismissed (1987), 79 N.R. 333; 23 O.A.C. 80; 44 D.L.R.(4th) vi (S.C.C.), refd to. [para. 38, footnote 17].

Bell ExpressVu Limited Partnership v. Rex et al., [2002] 2 S.C.R. 559; 287 N.R. 248; 166 B.C.A.C. 1; 271 W.A.C. 1, refd to. [para. 42, footnote 20].

Citizens' Representative (Nfld. and Lab.) v. Newfoundland and Labrador (Minister of Environment and Labour) et al. (2005), 244 Nfld. & P.E.I.R. 112; 726 A.P.R. 112; 2005 NLCA 7, refd to. [para. 43, footnote 21].

Human Rights Commission (Ont.) and Bates v. Zurich Insurance Co., [1992] 2 S.C.R. 321; 138 N.R. 1; 55 O.A.C. 81, refd to. [para. 45, footnote 23].

Craton v. Winnipeg School Division No. 1 and Winnipeg Teachers' Association No. 1 of the Manitoba Teachers' Society, [1985] 2 S.C.R. 150; 61 N.R. 241; 38 Man.R.(2d) 1; 21 D.L.R.(4th) 1, refd to. [para. 46, footnote 25].

Statutes Noticed:

Human Rights, Citizenship and Multiculturalism Act, R.S.A. 2000, c. H-14, sect. 1(1) [para. 25]; sect. 35 [para. 28].

Ombudsman Act, R.S.A. 2000, c. O-8, sect. 12(1) [para. 10]; sect. 21.1 [para. 18].

Authors and Works Noticed:

Alberta, Hansard, Legislative Assembly Debates (May 15, 1972), pp. 50, 51 [para. 21, footnote 7].

Alberta, Hansard, Legislative Assembly Debates (March 10, 2003), pp. 386, 387 [para. 31, footnote 11].

Hansard (Alta.) - see Alberta, Hansard, Legislative Assembly Debates.

Sullivan, Ruth, Sullivan and Driedger on the Construction of Statutes (4th Ed. 2002), pp. 186, 187 [para. 37, footnote 15]; 262, 263 [para. 48, footnote 28]; 265 [para. 48, footnote 27].

Counsel:

James T. Casey, Q.C., and Katrina M. Haymond (Field LLP), for the applicant;

Audrey Dean and Arman Chak (Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission), for the respondent.

This application was heard by Topolniski, J., of the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench, Judicial District of Edmonton, who delivered the following memorandum of decision on March 13, 2008.

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