Legal expert available to comment on Supreme Court ruling in union picket-line case

The Supreme Court of Canada released a unanimous decision today holding that restrictions on a union's expression rights on a picket-line imposed under Alberta's privacy law were invalid.

 November 15, 2013

 November 15, 2013

The Supreme Court of Canada released a unanimous decision today holding that restrictions on a union’s expression rights on a picket-line imposed under Alberta’s privacy law were invalid.

In its unanimous decision written by Justices Abella and Cromwell, the court concluded that: “PIPA imposes restrictions on a union’s ability to communicate and persuade the public of its cause, impairing its ability to use one of its most effective bargaining strategies in the course of a lawful strike. In our view, this infringement of the right to freedom of expression is disproportionate to the government’s objective of providing individuals with control over personal information that they expose by crossing a picket-line.”

Sam Trosow, a Western University professor holding a joint appointment in the Faculty of Law and the Faculty of Information & Media Studies, says, “This case is highly significant and it could have broad implications beyond the labour context in which it arose. This particular dispute pitted privacy legislation against a union’s right to freedom of expression in the context of a labour dispute. But there are many other instances where the limitations imposed on the use of information under various privacy laws collide with other important interests regarding rights to receive and disseminate information.”

Trosow is available to discuss the case and its potential implications in other areas with media. He can be reached at

Commentary reflects the perspective and scholarly interest of Western faculty members and is not an articulation of official university policy on issues being addressed.

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