Federal Court Quashes Minister Ordered Forced Vote

On August 30, 2013, the Federal Court of Canada quashed an Order made by the Minister of Heritage, James Moore, and cancelled a forced vote on the Canada Border Services Agency’s (“CBSA”) employees in the Frontière/Border (“FB”) group.

The Minister’s Order was made following a request by Treasury Board President Tony Clement for a forced vote on the employer’s final offer, dated May 6, 2013. Minister Moore ordered the vote without consulting or giving notice to the Public Service Alliance of Canada (“PSAC”), the certified bargaining agent representing the 7 000 plus employees affected.

PSAC successfully judicially reviewed the decision before the Federal Court of Canada. In her decision, Justice Mary Gleason emphasized the importance of the vote on PSAC’s interests. Justice Gleason found that “it would be difficult to find a decision that might more deeply affect a trade union’s interests than the decision to order a vote among bargaining unit members” and concluded that PSAC was entitled to adequate notice of the employer’s request for a forced vote and a meaningful opportunity to respond to it.

Justice Gleason noted each side’s duty to engage in good faith collective bargaining and set aside the Minister’s order, without remitting the matter back to the Minister for reconsideration: “the decision of the Minister to order a vote among the employees in the FB bargaining unit on the Employer’s final offer will be set aside. And, since the decision directing the vote is being quashed, the activities currently being undertaken by the PSLRB to conduct that vote must cease as there is no longer any decision to authorize them.”

PSAC was represented by Andrew Raven and Wassim Garzouzi of Raven, Cameron, Ballantyne & Yazbeck LLP/s.r.l.

The full reasons can be read here.

PSAC’s press release can be found here.