A recent string of high-profile pro-union Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) rulings in the realm of labour and constitutional law have placed a renewed spotlight on the relationship between organized labour and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, emboldening some labour unions to champion a"labour rights as human rights" judicial strategy aimed at constitutionalizing specific features of Canada's system of labour relations. However, the extent of the Charter's guarantee of freedom of association remains an open and contested question, as evidenced by the SCC's most recent ruling in Fraser (2011), which seemingly narrowed the scope of collective rights for workers. These new developments represent important changes in the approaches of both the Courts and the union movement. In the wake of these events, our research intends to make an original, significant, and distinctive contribution to ongoing debates concerning workers' rights and judicial politics by exploring the labour movement's evolving relationship with the Court and Charter-based litigation. At the heart of such explorations are important theoretical considerations about the ontological and epistemological foundations of collective rights in liberal democratic societies, as embodied in the Charter's guarantee of freedom of association.
Dr. Smith gratefully acknowledges the support of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada for the funding of this research.