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Porter, Toronto Port Authority thwarted by court

April 16, 2013, Toronto - The Toronto Port Authority and Porter Airlines have failed in their bid to stifle freedom of expression in the airline fuel handlers' strike.


April 16, 2013
Carey Fredericks

The Port Authority and the airline sought a wide-ranging order from Superior Court, including severe restrictions on the ability to conduct demonstrations at LittleNorway Park at the corner of Bathurst Street and Queen's Quay West.

However, the result of the order from Justice David Aston is that peaceful demonstrations can continue at the park as long as they don't involve nuisance or intimidation.

Porter flies nearly 200 flights a day out of the island airport and now wants to add jets. In court, however, Porter and the TPA asked for strikers to be banned from using "bullhorns, loudspeakers, or other devices which amplify sound or which make noise (e.g. horns, drums, whistles)".

The Port Authority also tried to have the order automatically enforced at its request by the Toronto Police Service. However, the TPS objected to that condition and will continue to have the discretion to decide when the order has been breached.

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The union will also be allowed to hand out leaflets at the entrance to the terminal. The Port Authority objected to leafleting, arguing that the airport is "private property," and two union officials had earlier been charged and arrested for trespassing in connection with leafleting activity. The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that airports are public property for picketing purposes.

The injunction application is the latest in a series of legal bullying techniques taken by the Port Authority and Porter.

Porter is suing the union and a staff member for $4 million in relation to Twitter comments about the strike.

"Porter is trying to use its corporate might to undermine rights to free speech and access to public space," says Glenn Wheeler, legal counsel for the Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union, which represents 22 fuel handlers who have been on strike since January 10.