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SCC to Address Test for “Federal Undertakings” Under the Constitution

Posted in Case Previews, Communications, Constitutional, Labour and Employment, Transportation
Brandon Kain

When do parties qualify as federal transportation undertakings for purpose of s. 92(10) of the Constitution Act, 1867?  The Supreme Court of Canada will answer this question in the Tessier case, for which it recently granted leave to appeal.

Decisions Below

The appeal comes before the Supreme Court from the ruling of the Quebec Court of Appeal in Tessier ltée c. Québec (Commission des lésions professionnelles). The applicant carried on the business of renting cranes for various purposes within Quebec, including the loading and unloading of ships, along with road transportation and maintaining and repairing equipment. A small part of its activities included longshoring. The respondent concluded that the applicant’s activities were within provincial jurisdiction over labour relations, and the applicant unsuccessfully challenged that decision before the Commission des lésions professionnelles. Although the Commission’s decision was overturned by the Quebec Superior Court, it was restored by the Quebec Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal held that the applicant’s undertaking was provincial in nature, and that it was not incorporated into a federal undertaking.

Potential Significance

The Supreme Court’s ruling will be of great interest to the transportation sector. It will also be relevant to businesses engaged in other types of federal undertakings under s. 92(10) of the Constitution Act (e.g., communications).

Case Information

Tessier Ltée c. Commission de la santé et de la sécurité du travail, 2011 CanLII 16149 (SCC)

SCC Docket Number: 33935

Date Leave Granted: March 24, 2011