October 10, 2018
Counsel Yael Bienenstock spoke with Canadian Lawyer about the application of parliamentary privilege in Jacques Chagnon, ès qualités de Président de l'Assemblée nationale du Québec v. Syndicat de la fonction publique et parapublique du Québec (SFPQ).
In this case, three security guards at the National Assembly of Québec argued for parliamentary privilege following their dismissal by president Jacques Chagnon, for using a National Assembly camera to observe adjacent hotel rooms.
The guards’ labour union, the Syndicat de la foncton publique et parapublique du Québec contested their dismissal but Jacques Chagnon argued he acted under parliamentary privileges: “the privilege over the management of employees and the privilege to eject strangers from the National Assembly and its precincts.” Ultimately, the SCC dismissed Chagnon’s appeal, stating that parliamentary privilege did not apply in this case.
Yael told Canadian Lawyer she agreed with this decision, stating “parliamentary privilege applies as long as…the employees are necessary to the legislative body to perform their constitutional role.”
She further explained that “section 120 of the Act Respecting the National Assembly qualifies personnel of the National Assembly as civil servants unless they are appointed by regulation derogation from the Public Service Act.”
“[B]ased on the ARNA, [the guards are] subject to ordinary law,” Yael said.
Concerning the dissenting justices apprehension regarding specific derogation procedures, given “the Court will soon be considering the nature and scope of judicial review – possibly including the concept of ‘true question of jurisdiction,” Yael thinks they are saying “stay tuned, part two is coming!”
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