St. Anne Pulp v. CPU (1986), 68 N.R. 112 (SCC)

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St. Anne-Nackawic Pulp & Paper Co. Ltd. v. Canadian Paper Workers Union, Local 219

(No. 17485)

Indexed As: St. Anne Nackawic Pulp & Paper Co. v. Canadian Paper Workers Union, Local 219

Supreme Court of Canada

Dickson, C.J.C., Estey, McIntyre, Chouinard, Lamer, Wilson and Le Dain, JJ.

June 12, 1986.


The plaintiff employer brought an action against the defendant union for damages for an unlawful strike in breach of a “no-strike” clause in the collective agreement between the parties and contrary to a prohibition in the Industrial Relations Act. The collective agreement contained provision for the settlement of all disputes by arbitration. The New Brunswick Court of Queen’s Bench, Trial Division, raised on its own motion the issue of whether the court had jurisdiction in light of the arbitration clause. After a hearing on the matter, the court ruled that it had no jurisdiction and that the matter should be submitted to arbitration in accordance with the agreement. See (1982), 37 N.B.R.(2d) 62; 97 A.P.R. 62. The plaintiff employer appealed.

The New Brunswick Court of Appeal, in a decision reported in (1982), 44 N.B.R.(2d) 10; 116 A.P.R. 10; 142 D.L.R.(3d) 678; 82 C.L.L.C. 14,216, dismissed the appeal. The employer appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada.

The Supreme Court of Canada dismissed the appeal.

Labour Law – Topic 7208

Industrial relations – Collective agreement – Enforcement – Civil action – For damages for breach of collective agreement – The Supreme Court of Canada affirmed that the court has no jurisdiction, at common law, by statute or in equity, to entertain a civil action by an employer for damages for an unlawful strike in breach of the “no- strike” clause in a collective agreement and contrary to the Industrial Relations Act – The Supreme Court held that arbitration was the sole proceeding to advance a claim for damages, where legislation required the parties to establish a mechanism for dispute resolution and whether the arbitration board so established was “statutory” or was private in nature.

Labour Law – Topic 8867

Industrial relations – Sanctions – Injunctions – Interim – Power to grant – General – The Supreme Court of Canada held that the court has jurisdiction to issue injunctions to restrain illegal strike activity during the currency of a collective agreement, where the grievance and arbitration procedures do not provide an adequate remedy in the circumstances – See paragraphs 21 – 34.

Cases Noticed:

Shell Canada Ltd. v. United Oil Workers of Canada, [1980] 2 S.C.R. 181; 33 N.R. 328, refd to. [para. 2].

I.B.E.W. v. Winnipeg Builders’ Exchange, [1967] S.C.R. 628, refd to. [para. 2].

Winnipeg Teachers’ Association No. 1 v. Winnipeg School Division No. 1, [1976] 2 S.C.R. 695; 7 N.R. 91, consd. [para. 2].

Ainscough v. McGavin Toastmaster Ltd., [1976] 1 S.C.R. 718; 4 N.R. 618, consd. [para. 7].

General Motors of Canada Ltd. v. Brunet, [1977] 2 S.C.R. 537; 13 N.R. 233, consd. [para. 8].

Hamilton Street Railway Company v. Northcott, [1967] S.C.R. 3, refd to. [para. 10].

Woods v. Miramichi Hospital et al. (1966), 59 D.L.R.(2d) 290 (N.B.S.C.A.D.), refd to. [para. 11].

Logan v. Board of School Trustees District No. 14 (1973), 6 N.B.R.(2d) 782; 40 D.L.R.(3d) 152 (S.C.A.D.), refd to. [para. 11].

Foisy v. Bell Canada, [1984] C.S. 1164; 18 D.L.R.(4th) 222 (Que. S.C.), refd to. [para. 11].

Shank v. KVP Company Ltd., [1966] 2 O.R. 847 (H.C.), refd to. [para. 12].

Close v. Globe & Mail Ltd. (1966), 60 D.L.R.(2d) 105 (Ont. C.A.), refd to. [para. 12].

Acadia Pulp and Paper Ltd. v. International Brotherhood of Pulp, Sulphite and Paper Mill Workers et al. (1970), 2 N.B.R.(2d) 596; 15 D.L.R.(3d) 227 (Q.B.), refd to. [para. 12].

Ford v. Trustees of the Ottawa Civic Hospital, [1973] 3 O.R. 437 (H.C.), refd to. [para. 12].

Binder v. Halifax County Municipal School Board (1978), 24 N.S.R.(2d) 504; 35 A.P.R. 504; 84 D.L.R.(3d) 494 (S.C.A.D.), refd to. [para. 12].

Bergeron v. Kingsway Transport Ltd. (1979), 23 O.R.(2d) 332 (Div. Ct.), refd to. [para. 12].

Campbell v. East-West Packers (1969) Ltd. (1982), 18 Man.R.(2d) 293; 142 D.L.R.(3d) 90 (C.A.), consd. [para. 13].

Lawn v. Algonquin College of Applied Arts and Technology (1982), 39 O.R.(2d) 377 (H.C.), refd to. [para. 13].

Hooper v. Wellington County Board of Education (1984), 4 O.A.C. 93; 46 O.R.(2d) 680 (Div. Ct.), refd to. [para. 13].

Bourne v. Otis Elevator Co. (1984), 45 O.R.(2d) 321 (H.C.), refd to. [para. 13].

Caines v. Cape Breton Development Corp. (1973), 13 N.S.R.(2d) 285; 9 A.P.R. 285; 39 D.L.R.(3d) 606 (S.C.T.D.), refd to. [para. 13].

Downey v. Scotia Square Hotel Ltd. (1974), 16 N.S.R.(2d) 344; 16 A.P.R. 344; 55 D.L.R.(3d) 300 (S.C.T.D.), refd to. [para. 13].

Drogt et al. v. Robson-Lang Leathers Ltd. et al., [1971] 3 O.R. 488 (Co. Ct.), refd to. [para. 17].

Perini Pacific Ltd. v. International Union of Operating Engineers (1961), 28 D.L.R.(2d) 727 (B.C.S.C.), refd to. [para. 18].

Roberval Express Ltée v. Transport Drivers, Warehousemen and General Workers Union et al., [1982] 2 S.C.R. 888; 47 N.R. 34, refd to. [para. 20].

Howe Sound Company v. International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers (Canada), Local 663, [1962] S.C.R. 318, affming. (1961), 29 D.L.R.(2d) 76, refd to. [para. 20].

International Nickel Co. of Canada Ltd. and Rivando, Re, [1956] O.R. 379 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 20].

Maritime Employers’ Association v. Local 273, International Longshoremen’s Association, [1979] 1 S.C.R. 120; 23 N.R. 386, refd to. [para. 21].

British Columbia Maritime Employers’ Association v. International Longshoremen’s and Warehousemen’s Union, [1972] 5 W.W.R. 738 (B.C.S.C.), refd to. [para. 21].

Saint John Shipbuilding v. International Union of Marine and Shipbuilding Workers (1979), 26 N.B.R.(2d) 179; 55 A.P.R. 179 (S.C.), refd to. [para. 21].

New Brunswick Electric Power Commission v. I.B.E.W. (1978), 22 N.B.R.(2d) 364; 39 A.P.R. 364 (S.C.), refd to. [para. 21].

Barraclough v. Brown, [1897] A.C. 615 (H.L.), dist. [para. 23].

Young v. Canadian Northern Ry Co., [1931] A.C. 83, refd to. [para. 25].

Textile Workers Union v. Lincoln Mills (1957), 353 U.S. 448, refd to. [para. 25].

United Steelworkers of America v. American Manufacturing Co. (1960), 363 U.S. 564, refd to. [para. 25].

Transport Labour Relations v. General Truck Drivers & Helpers Union (1974), 54 D.L.R.(3d) 457 (B.C.S.C.), refd to. [para. 26].

Statutes Noticed:

Industrial Relations Act, R.S.N.B. 1973, c. I-4, sect. 53(1) [para. 4]; sect. 55(1) [paras. 4, 17, 23]; sect. 55(2) [para. 4]; sect. 91(1) [paras. 4, 6, 32-33]; sect. 102(3) [paras. 24, 33]; sect. 109(4) [para. 6]; sect. 111(1) [para. 33].

Rights of Labour Act, R.S.O. 1980, c. 456, sect. 3(3) [para. 17].

Canada Labour Code – see Labour Code.

Labour Code, R.S.C. 1970, c. L-1, sect. 125(3) [para. 17].

Labour Relations Act, R.S.N.B. 1952, c. 124, sect. 18(3) [para. 17].

Labour Relations Act, R.S.O. 1980, c. 228, generally [para. 24].

Courts of Justice Act, S.O. 1984, c. 11, sect. 115 [para. 28].

Chancery Amendment Act (Lord Cairns’ Act), 21 & 22 Vic., c. 27, generally [para. 31].

Authors and Works Noticed:

de Smith, Judicial Review of Administrative Action (4th Ed. 1980), pp. 358-360 [para. 23].

Adams, George W., Canadian Labour Law (1985), p. 703 [para. 33].


J. Gordon Petrie, Q.C., and Donald E. MacPherson, for the appellant;

Brian Neill and Robert Breen, for the respondent.

This appeal was heard before Dickson, C.J.C., Estey, McIntyre, Chouinard, Lamer, Wilson and Le Dain, JJ., of the Supreme Court of Canada on December 10, 1984.

The decision of the Supreme Court was delivered by Estey, J., on June 12, 1986.


St. Anne Nackawic Pulp & Paper Co. v. Canadian Paper Workers Union, Local 219

(1986), 68 N.R. 112 (SCC)

Supreme Court of Canada
Reading Time:
27 minutes
Chouinard, Dickson, Estey, Lamer, Le Dain, McIntyre, Wilson 

Estey, J.
: This case raises for the first time in this Court the question whether a court of otherwise competent jurisdiction is authorized to receive a claim by an employer for damages against a trade union, the bargaining agent for its employees, by reason of a strike which was allegedly, and on the record before this Court, apparently, illegal under the applicable labour relations statute, and which was at the same time a breach of a collective agreement to which the employer and the trade union are parties. In earlier proceedings, the details of which are not disclosed in the record in this appeal, the employer obtained an interlocutory injunction enjoining the continuance of a strike by this group of employees. Apparently the claim for damages, the issue now before the Court, arose in the same proceedings, although there is no mention of a claim for injunction in the prayer for relief in the statement of claim issued some months after the interlocutory injunction.

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