(Canadian Press) – Ontario’s top court ruled Friday that rank and file RCMP officers cannot form a union.
The ruling in favour of the federal government upholds a section of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Regulations, which establishes a mechanism under which officers interact with management.
The mechanism – the staff relations representative program – came in response to the fact that RCMP officers are specifically exempt from the Public Service Relations Act under which most federal employees can form unions.
Several RCMP associations, which want to represent RCMP members in collective bargaining through traditional unions, argued the regulations violate their Charter right to freedom of association in the labour context.
In a ruling that overturned a lower court decision in favour of the associations, the Appeal Court disagreed.
“There is more than one conception of collective bargaining,” the Appeal Court ruling states.
“The Supreme Court has made it abundantly clear that (the Charter) does not guarantee any particular model of labour relations.”
In response, Ottawa argued the program affords employee participation in the decision-making process, and that the process is constitutionally sound.
The associations said because the program is merely consultative and management has the final say, the system could hardly be called collective bargaining.
The Appeal Court, however, said the associations had an “expansive concept” of the constitutionally guaranteed right to collective bargaining.
The Charter protection applies only to the right to make collective representations and to have those representations considered in good faith, the court found.