The court hears arguments in case #28743, Bell Canada v. Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, Femmes Action, and Canadian Human Rights Commission, on January 23, 2003.
In the early 1990s, the Canadian Telephone Employees Association (CTEA), the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada (CEP), and Femmes Action filed complaints with the Canadian Human Rights Commission against Bell Canada. These organizations alleged that Bell, in contravention of the Canadian Human Rights Act, was paying female employees less than male employees who were performing work of equal value. The Canadian Human Rights Commission referred the complaints to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal for adjudication. Bell objected on a variety of grounds and there followed a long and complicated series of applications for judicial review, judgments, appeals, and motions before the Tribunal itself. The Federal Court of Appeal ruled in 2001 that the Tribunal could proceed with investigating the original complaints, despite Bell’s continued protestations. Bell is now appealing that decision to the Supreme Court of Canada, which must decide if the Tribunal has the authority and jurisdiction to hear the original complaints.
Lawyer Mary F. Cornish presents arguments on behalf of the Canadian Labour Congress, an intervener in the case. Lawyer David Stratas presents arguments on behalf of Bell Canada.
Also on the program, Governor General Adrienne Clarkson receives an honorary law degree from the Law Society of Upper Canada at a ceremony at Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto in February 2003. Ms. Clarkson speaks about the roles and responsibilities of the legal profession in society. Also speaking at the event are Vern Krishna (the treasurer of the law society) and George Hunter (a member of the law society’s board of governors).