Cuddy Chicks Ltd. v. Ontario (Labour Relations Board) [1991] 2 S.C.R. 5: the right and duty on an administrative agency to decide the constitutional validity of its enabling statute;

Respondent union filed an application for certification before the Ontario Labour Relations Board relating (page 6) to employees at the chicken hatchery of Cuddy Chicks Ltd. Section 2(b) of the Labour Relations Act, however, provided that the Act did not apply to persons employed in agriculture and the appellant maintained that the employees in question should be so designated. On filing the application, the union gave notice that it would request the Board to hold s. 2(b) invalid as being contrary to ss. 2(d) and 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms if the employees were found to be agricultural employees.

Prior to the commencement of the hearing, Cuddy Chicks disputed the jurisdiction of the Board to subject its enabling statute to Charter scrutiny. At that point, a separate hearing was convened to determine whether the panel had jurisdiction to entertain the Charter issues raised by the Union. The first panel found the employees to be in the agricultural sector so that the Act did not apply. A majority of the panel then held that the Board had jurisdiction to rule on the Charter issue because the Board was a "court of competent jurisdiction" within the meaning of s. 24(1) of the Charter and because s. 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982 imposed an obligation on the Board to ensure that the law it applies is consistent with the supreme law of Canada. The Board, under s. 106(1) of the Act, has jurisdiction to decide questions of law relevant to the proceedings before it.

The Divisional Court held that the Board had jurisdiction to deal with the Charter issue. A majority of the Court of Appeal held that s. 52(1) of the Constitution Act, 1982 conferred jurisdiction on the Board to decide the constitutionality of its enabling statute. At issue here were: (1) whether s. 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982 conferred the right and duty on an administrative agency such as the OLRB to decide the constitutional validity of its enabling statute; (2) whether the OLRB had the jurisdiction to decide the constitutional validity of s. 2(b) of its enabling statute by applying the Charter as part of its duty to consider statutes bearing on proceedings before it; and, (3) whether the OLRB was a "court of competent jurisdiction" under s. 24(1) of the Charter.

Held: The appeal should be dismissed.

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