Moysa v The Labour Relations Board of Alberta  1 S.C.R. 1572: Evidence - Privilege - Press - Journalist refusing to testify at a labour relations board hearing - Journalist claiming privilege against the disclosure of communications from sources - Whether journalist has a privilege at common law or under the Canadian Charter to refuse to answer questions involving her sources
Evidence - Privilege - Press - Journalist refusing to testify at a labour relations board hearing - Journalist claiming privilege against the disclosure of communications from sources - Whether journalist has a privilege at common law or under the Canadian Charter to refuse to answer questions involving her sources - Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, s. 2(b).
Constitutional law - Charter of Rights - Freedom of the press - Labour relations board ordering journalist to answer questions involving her sources - Whether compelling journalist to testify violation of s. 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
A week after the appellant, a journalist, wrote an article on the Union organizing campaign at several department stores, the Hudson Bay Co. terminated the employment of six employees. The Union alleged that the employees were fired because of their organizing activities and brought an unfair labour practices claim against the Bay. The appellant was summoned to attend the Labour Relations Board hearing. The Union proposed to ask her whether she had spoken with someone at the Bay and, if so, what the details of the conversation were. The appellant objected to being compelled to testify alleging that she has a right to protect her sources of information on the basis of a qualified privilege either at common law or under s. 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Board held that the appellant had no privilege and ordered her to testify. The Alberta Court of Queen's Bench dismissed appellant's application for certiorari to quash the Board's decision and the judgment was affirmed by the Court of Appeal. This Court granted appellant's leave to appeal and, pursuant to Rule 32 of the Supreme Court Rules, the parties submitted the following constitutional questions: (1) Does requiring a journalist witness to disclose communications from a source violate s. 2(b) of the Charter? (2) Does requiring a journalist witness to disclose communications to some other person violate s. 2(b) of the Charter? and (3) If the answer to either questions 1 or 2 is in the affirmative, can compulsive disclosure be justified under s. 1 of the Charter?
Held: The appeal should be dismissed.
Appellant has no privilege to refuse to testify before the Board. Even if a qualified form of testimonial privilege exists in Canada, appellant's claim of privilege in this case must be dismissed as she does not fall within any of the possible tests which establish the conditions necessary to justify a refusal to testify. In any event, the Union was primarily interested in the information that the appellant gave to the Bay's official concerning the organizing campaign. This information would not come within the ambit of any qualified privilege with respect to information received from sources.
Despite the importance of ascertaining the extent of the s. 2(b) rights, the disposition of this appeal does not require that the constitutional questions be answered. The facts of this case do not warrant an answer to these broad and important constitutional questions. To address the questions would require this Court to make pronouncements well beyond the issues presented in the actual appeal.
Assuming that the right to gather the news is constitutionally enshrined in s. 2(b) of the Charter, the appellant has not demonstrated that compelling journalists to testify before bodies such as the Labour Relations Board would detrimentally affect journalists' ability to gather information. No evidence was placed before the Court suggesting that such a direct link exists. Absent any evidence that there is a tie between the impairment of the alleged right to gather information and the requirement that journalists testify before the Labour Relations Board, this Court cannot find that there has been a breach of s. 2(b) in this case.
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