Weber v. Ontario Hydro, (1995) 183 N.R. 241 (SCC)

JudgeGonthier, McLachlin, Iacobucci and Major, JJ.
CourtSupreme Court (Canada)
Case DateJune 29, 1995
JurisdictionCanada (Federal)
Citations(1995), 183 N.R. 241 (SCC);[1995] 2 SCR 929;1995 CanLII 108 (SCC);24 OR (3d) 358;125 DLR (4th) 583;183 NR 241;24 CCLT (2d) 217;30 Admin LR (2d) 1;[1995] CarswellOnt 240;AZ-95111082;EYB 1995-67433;JE 95-1482;[1995] SCJ No 59 (QL);12 CCEL (2d) 1;[1995] ACS no 59;30 CRR (2d) 1;56 ACWS (3d) 94;82 OAC 321

Weber v. Ont. Hydro (1995), 183 N.R. 241 (SCC)

MLB headnote and full text

[French language version follows English language version]

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

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

Murray Weber (appellant) v. Ontario Hydro (defendant/respondent)

(23401)

Indexed As: Weber v. Ontario Hydro

Supreme Court of Canada

La Forest, L'Heureux-Dubé, Sopinka,

Gonthier, McLachlin, Iacobucci

and Major, JJ.

June 29, 1995.

Summary:

A unionized employee (Weber) of Ontario Hydro brought an action against Ontario Hydro for deceit, trespass, nuisance, invasion of privacy and an alleged violation of his rights under ss. 7 and 8 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Ontario Hydro applied for a determination as to whether the action should be dismissed where it was based on the same incident and subject matter as a grievance filed on the employee's behalf and whether the Charter applied to the actions of Ontario Hydro.

A Motions Court judge dismissed the employee's action, because the existence of the arbitration recourse ousted the court's jurisdiction and because the Charter would not, in any event, apply to Ontario Hydro. Weber appealed.

The Ontario Court of Appeal, in a judg­ment reported 60 O.A.C. 201, allowed the appeal in part. The court stated that the judge was correct in concluding that dam­ages could not be obtained in court for the tortious acts of the employer when the acts were also arbitrable under the collective agreement. The court stated that the court was not precluded from entertaining an action based on violation of Charter rights merely because the matter was also arbitrable. The court stated that the Charter claim should proceed to trial, with the trial judge to determine, on the basis of evidence not available on appeal, whether the Charter applied to Ontario Hydro. Weber appealed, seeking reinstatement of his action in its entirety. Ontario Hydro cross-appealed the decision to permit the Charter claim to stand.

The Supreme Court of Canada, Iacobucci, La Forest and Sopinka, JJ., dissenting in part, dismissed Weber's appeal and allowed Ontario Hydro's cross-appeal. The court agreed that the tort action could not stand. The court also held that the arbitrator was a "court of competent jurisdiction" for the purpose of granting s. 24(1) Charter reme­dies.

Civil Rights - Topic 8363

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms - Denial of rights - Jurisdiction - Court of competent jurisdiction - A grieving employee claimed the employer violated his Charter rights and sought a declaration to that effect and damages - The Supreme Court of Canada stated that "statutory tribunals created by Parliament or the legislatures may be courts of competent jurisdiction to grant Charter remedies, provided they have jurisdiction over the parties and the subject matter of the dis­pute and are empowered to make the orders sought" - The court found that an arbitrator hearing a collective agreement dispute under the Ontario Labour Relations Act was a "court of competent jurisdiction" to award damages for a violation of the employee's Charter rights - La Forest, Sopinka and Iacobucci, JJ., dissenting, stated that "the drafters of the Charter, in selecting the expression 'court of compe­tent jurisdiction', clearly did not intend to confer jurisdiction on tribunals to award Charter remedies" - See paragraphs 27 to 45, 76.

Labour Law - Topic 7208

Industrial relations - Collective agreement - Enforcement - Civil action - For dam­ages for breach of collective agreement - A unionized employee of Ontario Hydro brought an action for damages against Ontario Hydro for deceit, trespass, nui­sance and invasion of privacy - The same matter was subject to arbitration and filed grievances were settled - The Supreme Court of Canada affirmed that the exis­tence of the collective agreement and arbitration procedure ousted the court's jurisdiction to entertain a tort action based on the same impugned conduct of Ontario Hydro, where the essential character of the dispute arose from the interpretation, ap­plication, administration or violation of the collective agreement - The court stated that "the dispute resolution process which the various labour statutes of this country have established should not be duplicated and undermined by concurrent actions. It conforms to a pattern of growing judicial deference for the arbitration and grievance process and correlative restrictions on the rights of the parties to proceed with paral­lel or overlapping litigation in the courts" - See paragraphs 7 to 27.

Labour Law - Topic 7208

Industrial relations - Collective agreement - Enforcement - Civil action - For dam­ages for breach of collective agreement - Section 45(1) of the Ontario Labour Re­lations Act precluded a civil action based solely on a collective agreement where binding arbitration was required - The Supreme Court of Canada rejected the availability of concurrent regimes of arbi­tration and court actions and the model of overlapping jurisdiction, where a court action may be brought if it raises issues which go beyond the traditional subject matter of labour law - The court held that the "exclusive jurisdiction model" was the correct approach: "if the difference between the parties arises from the col­lective agreement, the claimant must pro­ceed by arbitration and the courts have no power to entertain an action in respect of that dispute. There is no overlapping juris­diction." - If the essential character of the dispute arises from the interpretation, application, administration or violation of the collective agreement, then the court lacked jurisdiction to entertain a civil action - See paragraphs 7 to 27.

Labour Law - Topic 7209

Industrial relations - Collective agreement - Enforcement - Civil action - For Char­ter relief - A unionized employee brought an action for damages against his employer for alleged violation of his Charter rights - The Supreme Court of Canada held that the arbitrator had jurisdiction over the parties and subject matter of the dispute and was empowered under the Labour Relations Act to award the Charter reme­dies claimed - Accordingly, the arbitrator was a "court of competent jurisdiction" under s. 24(1) - La Forest, Sopinka and Iacobucci, JJ., dissenting, stated that a tribunal could not be a "court of competent jurisdiction" to award Charter remedies - See paragraphs 28 to 45, 76.

Cases Noticed:

New Brunswick v. O'Leary (1995), 183 N.R. 229 (S.C.C.), refd to. [para. 1].

Franck v. Kenebuc (Galt) Ltd. (1985), 7 C.C.E.L. 85 (Ont. H.C.), refd to. [para. 9].

St. Anne Nackawic Pulp & Paper Co. v. Canadian Paper Workers Union, Local 219, [1986] 1 S.C.R. 704; 68 N.R. 112; 73 N.B.R.(2d) 236; 184 A.P.R. 236; 28 D.L.R.(4th) 1, refd to. [para. 10].

St. Anne Nackawic Pulp & Paper Co. v. Canadian Paper Workers Union, Local 219 (1982), 44 N.B.R.(2d) 10; 116 A.P.R. 10; 142 D.L.R.(3d) 678 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 11].

Gendron v. Supply and Services Union of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, Local 50057 et al., [1990] 1 S.C.R. 1298; 109 N.R. 321; 66 Man.R.(2d) 81; [1990] 4 W.W.R. 385, refd to. [para. 15].

Kim v. University of Regina (1990), 87 Sask.R. 118; 74 D.L.R.(4th) 120 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 17].

Irving Oil Ltd., Refining Division v. Energy & Chemical Workers Union, Local 691 (1983), 47 N.B.R.(2d) 205; 124 A.P.R. 205; 148 D.L.R.(3d) 398 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 21].

Wainwright v. Vancouver Shipyards Co. (1987), 38 D.L.R.(4th) 760 (B.C.C.A.), refd to. [para. 21].

Johnston et al. v. Dresser Industries Canada Ltd. (1990), 36 O.A.C. 371; 75 O.R.(2d) 609 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 21].

Bartello v. Canada Post Corp. (1987), 46 D.L.R.(4th) 129 (Ont. H.C.), refd to. [para. 22].

Bourne v. Otis Elevator Co. (1984), 45 O.R.(2d) 321 (H.C.), refd to. [para. 22].

Butt v. United Steelworkers of America et al. (1993), 106 Nfld. & P.E.I.R. 181; 334 A.P.R. 181 (Nfld. T.D.), refd to. [para. 22].

Forster v. Canadian Airlines International Ltd. (1993), 3 C.C.E.L.(2d) 272 (B.C.S.C.), refd to. [para. 22].

Bell Canada v. Foisy (1989), 26 C.C.E.L. 234 (Que. C.A.), refd to. [para. 22].

Ne-Nsoko Ndungidi v. Centre Hospitalier Douglas, [1993] R.J.Q. 536 (S.C.), refd to. [para. 22].

Elliott v. De Havilland Aircraft Co. of Canada Ltd. (1989), 32 O.A.C. 250 (Div. Ct.), refd to. [para. 23].

McLeod v. Egan, [1975] 1 S.C.R. 517; 2 N.R. 443; 46 D.L.R.(3d) 150, refd to. [para. 25].

Taylor (David) & Son v. Barnett Trading Co., [1953] 1 All E.R. 843 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 25].

Douglas/Kwantlen Faculty Association v. Douglas College, [1990] 3 S.C.R. 570; 118 N.R. 340; 71 D.L.R.(4th) 94, refd to. [para. 25].

Moore v. British Columbia (1988), 50 D.L.R.(4th) 29 (B.C.C.A.), refd to. [para. 26].

Ontario (Attorney General) v. Bowie (1993), 110 D.L.R.(4th) 444 (Ont. Div. Ct.), refd to. [para. 27].

Cuddy Chicks Ltd. v. Labour Relations Board (Ont.), [1991] 2 S.C.R. 5; 122 N.R. 361; 47 O.A.C. 271, refd to. [para. 30].

Ontario Council of Regents for Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology (St. Lawrence College) v. Ontario Public Service Employees Union (1986), 24 L.A.C.(3d) 144, refd to. [para. 30].

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. 32].

Imbleau v. Laskin, [1962] S.C.R. 338, refd to. [para. 44].

Board of Education of Halton v. Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation, District 9 (1978), 17 L.A.C.(2d) 279 (Ont.), refd to. [para. 44].

Tétreault-Gadoury v. Canada (Em­ployment and Immigration Commission), [1991] 2 S.C.R. 22; 126 N.R. 1; 81 D.L.R.(4th) 358, refd to. [para. 48].

R. v. Rahey, [1987] 1 S.C.R. 588; 75 N.R. 81; 78 N.S.R.(2d) 183; 193 A.P.R. 183; 33 C.C.C.(3d) 289; 57 C.R.(3d) 289; 39 D.L.R.(4th) 481, refd to. [para. 62].

Statutes Noticed:

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, 1982, sect. 7, sect. 8 [para. 4]; sect. 24(1) [para. 31].

Constitution Act, 1982, sect. 52(1) [para. 70].

Labour Relations Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. L-2, sect. 45(1) [para. 5].

Authors and Works Noticed:

Concise Oxford English Dictionary (7th Ed. 1989) [para. 57].

Petit Robert 1 (1990) [para. 58].

Counsel:

Stephen T. Goudge, Q.C., Martha Milczynski and Andrew K. Lokan, for the appellant;

Joan M. Prior, for the respondent.

Solicitors of Record:

Gowling, Strathy & Henderson, Toronto, Ontario, for the appellant;

Joan M. Prior, Toronto, Ontario, for the respondent.

This appeal and cross-appeal were heard on December 6, 1994, before La Forest, L'Heureux-Dubé, Sopinka, Gonthier, McLachlin, Iacobucci and Major, JJ., of the Supreme Court of Canada.

On June 29, 1995, the judgment of the Supreme Court of Canada was delivered in both official languages and the following opinions were filed:

McLachlin, J. (L'Heureux-Dubé, Gonthier and Major, JJ., concurring) - see paragraphs 1 to 46;

Iacobucci, J. (La Forest and Sopinka, JJ., concurring), dissenting in part - see paragraphs 47 to 77.

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