Developments in Labour Law: The 1978-79 Term

Document Type

Academic Article

Publication Date



Supreme Court of Canada, Arbitrators, Labour Relations Boards, Uneven Record, Deference


Every labour case that reaches the Supreme Court of Canada has arisen against the backdrop of a comprehensive statutory scheme. In this field, therefore, we are entitled to expect legal reasoning from our highest court which reveals an appreciation of, and fidelity to, fundamental statutory purposes. Furthermore, because of the vast majority of labour law cases involve review of the decisions of arbitrators or labour relations boards, they have an institutional dimension; they raise the vital issue of the proper relationship between the courts and such specialized decision makers. A court that can bring an appreciation of fundamental statutory purpose to bear upon specific labour law issues is more likely to value the point of view of the specialized institutions on specific issues and to appreciate their proper role in the overall institutional framework. In these terms, the Supreme Court has, at best, an uneven record.