Open Letter: Senators voice concern bill to end postal strike could violate charter of rights

Photo: David Wilson/Flickr

In a special sitting of the House of Commons, members of Parliament early Saturday, November 24, passed Bill C-89, a back-to-work bill that would end the strike by Canada Post workers. This bill then went proceeded to the Senate.

After studying the bill, the Senate adopted a motion Saturday evening to adjourn its discussions until Monday afternoon.

As the Senate prepared to review the bill, two senators issued this public letter on November 23.

The Honourable Patricia A. Hajdu,
MP Office of the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour

Dear Minister Hajdu,

As your government moves forward with back-to-work legislation to force an end to the dispute between Canada Post and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, senators must consider their constitutional role.

One of the duties senators are tasked with is to pay particular attention to legislation that might impinge upon protections found within the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Section 2(d) of the Charter states that the freedom of association is a fundamental freedom. The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that infringement of the legal right to strike, in certain contexts, is a violation of this freedom of association. As such, any legislation that might restrict this legal right — as Bill C-89 does — presents the risk of a Charter violation.

We received a clear commitment from you that your government would issue a Charter statement, clarifying your analysis as to how this bill falls short of a violation. As senators prepare tonight for this weekend’s debate, we are still yet to receive any such statement.

It is essential that your office issue and publicize the statement immediately.

Sincerely,

Hon. Diane Griffin, Senator

and

Hon. Frances Lankin, Senator 

Photo: David Wilson/Flickr

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