At issue were the privacy rights created by Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA) and
the right to free expression, which is constitutionally enshrined
as section 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and
Freedoms (Charter). The SCC upheld the Alberta Court of Appeal
decision and found that the United Food and Commercial Workers
(UFCW) was entitled to make and distribute recorded images of
people crossing a picket line because of the Charter, which
superseded an individual's privacy rights under PIPA.
The SCC also held that PIPA was unconstitutional, and that the
protection of privacy rights granted under PIPA could not be
equated to being constitutional in nature. The SCC specifically
held that PIPA was overly broad and the infringement on UFCW's
freedom of expression was not saved by section 1 of the Charter, as
the infringement was not a reasonable limit prescribed by law:
 In our view, the legislation violates s. 2(b) because its
impact on freedom of expression in the labour context is
disproportionate and the infringement is not justified under
 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
 This conclusion does not require that we condone all of the
Union's activities. The breadth of PIPA's
restrictions makes it unnecessary to examine the precise expressive
activity at issue in this case. It is enough to note that, like
privacy, freedom of expression is not an absolute value and both
the nature of the privacy interests implicated and the nature of
the expression must be considered in striking an appropriate
balance. To the extent that PIPA restricted the
Union's collection, use and disclosure of personal information
for legitimate labour relations purposes, the Act violates s. 2(b)
of the Charter and cannot be justified under s. 1.
As the provisions in the British Columbia, Manitoba, and federal
privacy legislations are "substantively similar" to
the Alberta PIPA, this decision will likely impact the
interpretation of those legislations. As such, amendments to the
British Columbia, Manitoba, and federal privacy legislations are
likely forth coming. It should be noted that the SCC suspended the
declaration of invalidity for 12 months to give the Alberta
legislature time to amend the legislation.
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