Supreme Court


Members of school board’s executive committee could be examined

Following his dismissal, union’s teacher filed grievance before an arbitrator and sought request to examine executive committee’s commissioners of executive who had decided in camera to dismiss him. School board objected to the examination on basis of principle of deliberative secrecy. Arbitrator dismissed Board’s objections and allowed examination of executive committee’s members regarding their deliberations and their decision to dismiss teacher. On motion for judicial review, Superior Court quashed arbitrator’s decision and barred any testimony by members of the executive committee. Majority of Court of Appeal restored arbitrator’s decision and allowed examination of executive committee’s members. School board appealed. Appeal dismissed. Principle that motives of legislative body are “unknowable” and deliberative secrecy do not apply to a public employer, Board in this case, that decides to take disciplinary action against employee, even if an in camera meeting is ordered. Here, it was reasonable for arbitrator to rule that he needed to know what had taken place in camera in order to determine whether executive committee’s deliberations had been thorough. Hence, three members of Board’s executive committee could be examined. Further, it was wrong to say that discussions held by members of executive committee in camera were shielded by deliberative secrecy. Furthermore, arbitrator had exclusive jurisdiction to determine whether any questions that might be asked were relevant. Reasons for arbitrator’s decision were transparent and intelligible, and justification given for it was sufficient. Arbitrator’s decision fell within a range of possible acceptable outcomes which were defensible in respect of facts and law. Therefore, there was no justification for Court to intervene.

Commission scolaire de Laval c. Syndicat de l’enseignement de la région de Laval (Mar. 18, 2016, S.C.C., McLachlin C.J.C., Abella J., Karakatsanis J., Wagner J., Gascon J., Côté J., and Brown J., 35898) Decision at 242 A.C.W.S. (3d) 103 was affirmed. 263 A.C.W.S. (3d) 396.

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