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Constitutional Labour Rights in Canada

Farm Workers and the Fraser Case

On 29 April 2011, the Supreme Court of Canada released its much-anticipated decision in Attorney General of Ontario v Fraser, which dealt with the scope of constitutional protection of collective bargaining. The case involved a constitutional challenge to an Ontario statute on the grounds that it violated agricultural workers’ freedom of association and right to equality by excluding them from the statutory protection that is available to virtually all other private sector workers and by failing to provide them with alternative legislative support for meaningful and effective collective bargaining rights. Although the Court upheld the constitutionality of the legislation by an eight to one majority, it provided four different, and incommensurable, sets of reasons. For the union that instigated the litigation, Fraser is a defeat. For the labour movement and their advocates, Fraser is ambiguous. What is clear, however, is that the Supreme Court of Canada was badly divided over the scope of protection that freedom of association provides to the right to bargain collectively.

This collection of original essays untangles the two stories that are intertwined in the Fraser decision—the story of the farm workers and their union’s attempt to obtain rights at work available to other working people in Ontario, and the tale of judicial discord over the meaning of freedom of association in the context of work. The contributors include trade unionists, lawyers, and academics (several of whom were involved in Fraser as witnesses, parties, lawyers, and interveners). The collection provides the social context out of which the decision emerged, including a photo essay on migrant workers, while at the same time illuminating Fraser’s broader jurisprudential and institutional implications.


Fay Faraday

Fay Faraday is a social justice lawyer in Toronto, representing community groups and coalitions, unions, and individuals. With a practice focusing on constitutional and appellate litigation, labour, human rights, and administrative/public law, she has extensive experience with Charter litigation at all levels of court, including numerous cases before the Supreme Court of Canada and the Ontario Court of Appeal. In her legal practice, Fay has addressed a wide range of social justice issues relating to migrant workers and workers in precarious employment, women's equality, race discrimination, gender and work, rights of persons with disabilities, employment equity, poverty, income security, international human rights norms, and homelessness and the right to adequate housing. Fay has also served as an adjunct professor at Osgoode Hall Law School teaching courses in legal ethics and ethical lawyering, and has published extensively on constitutional law and human rights.

Judy Fudge

Judy Fudge is the Lansdowne Chair in Law at the University of Victoria. She has been widely published in law, history, and industrial relations journals, and she has co-authored and co-edited several books, including Labour Before the Law: The Legal Regulation of Workers' Collective Action (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2001, with Eric Tucker), Privatization, Law and the Challenge to Feminism (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2002, with Brenda Cossman), Precarious Work, Women and the New Economy: The Challenge to Legal Norms (Oxford: Hart Publishing, 2006, with Rosemary Owens). She is a member of the Inter-University Research Centre on Globalization and Work, and in 2009 she received the Bora Laskin National Fellowship in Human Rights for her research project "Labour Rights as Human Rights: Unions, Women, and Migrants."

Eric Tucker

Eric Tucker, B.A., LL.B., LL.M. is a professor at Osgoode Hall Law School, York University. He has published extensively on the history and current state of labour and employment law. He is the author of Administering Danger in the Workplace (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1990) and co-author of Labour Before the Law: The Legal Regulation of Workers' Collective Action (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2001, with Judy Fudge) and Self-Employed Workers Organize (Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2005, with Cynthia Cranford, Judy Fudge, and Leah Vosko). He is also the editor of Working Disasters: The Politics of Recognition and Response (Amityville, NY: Baywood Publishing Company, 2006).

Chapter Title Abstract Contributors Pages Year Price


Introduces farm workers, collective bargaining rights and the meaning of constitutional protection, focusing on the landmark Fraser case and constitutionalizing labour rights. 29 $2.90


Discusses farm worker exceptionalism, specifically considering how the Fraser case has effected this, as well as the history of farm worker exceptionalism, the role of the Charter and the future … 27 $2.70


Describes the roots of organizing agriculture workers in Canada, focusing on the struggle of farm workers in Ontario to organize, union organizing, community building and the way forward for farm … 24 $2.40


Discusses development and Canada’s temporary migration programs, focusing on methods and terminology, problematic policies of "managed migration" and moving from meeting needs to … 28 $2.80


Discusses equality regarding farmworkers and their experiences of discimination, placing considerable focus on constructing agricultural workers on the margins, Dunmore‘s substantive … 30 $3.00


Provides insight into the lives of migrant farm workers in Ontario. This chapters consists of a collection of photographs spanning the years 1984-2009. 16 $1.60


Discusses the significant Fraser case and considers the case’s prematurity, judicial deference, labour law and international law. 35 $3.50


Considers the mark that Fraser left on labour rights in Canada, focusing on the doctrinal and practical implications of the Fraser majority’s reasons, its impact on litigation discourse and … ; 44 $4.40


Discusses labour rights as a counterweight to growing income inequality in Canada, focusing on the use of Fraser an attempt to roll back BC Health Services, the role of the Charter of Rights and … 27 $2.70


Disccuses the international constitution, specifically considering the demise of dualism, the post-dualist trajectory of freedom of association and the importance of re-engaging international law. 25 $2.50


Reflects on the importance of Fraser and BC Health Services, focusing on the International Labour Organization (ILO) and parallels between the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) and the European Court … ; 32 $3.20