Administrative law – Legislative Assembly – Committees – Constitutional law – Jurisdiction – Judicial review
Canada (Attorney General) v. Prince Edward Island (Legislative Assembly),  P.E.I.J. No. 7, Prince Edward Island Supreme Court, Trial Division, January 14, 2003, Cheverie J.
As a result of the discovery of the spread of “potato wart” disease from Newfoundland and Labrador to Prince Edward Island, the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Prince Edward Island called for the Standing Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Environment (the “Committee”) to embark on a full and complete examination of the disease and its potential impact on the province’s potato industry.
In the course of carrying out its duties, the Committee invited representatives of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (the “CFIA”) to appear before it. Summonses were issued requiring two employees of the CFIA to appear before the Committee. The Attorney General, the CFIA and the employees personally made application for judicial review for the purpose of quashing those summonses. The Committee, the Clerk of Committees of the Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island and the Clerk Assistant opposed the application. The Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario was granted leave to intervene and also opposed the application.
The court held that the Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island has the power to summon witnesses and order them to produce documents. This power is constitutional by virtue of the fact that it is an exercise of inherent parliamentary privilege. The Committee is an extension of the Legislative Assembly and possesses the same constitutional power to summon witnesses and order them to produce documents. Accordingly, the witnesses should not be exempt from the summonses issued by the Committee.
Finally, it was held that the Judicial Review Act does not apply to a decision of the Committee. The Committee was exercising a parliamentary privilege, rather than a power derived from the Act. It was further held that neither the proceedings of the Legislative Assembly, not any of its committees are subject to the Act. The fact that the Act provides for codification of certain parliamentary privileges does not necessarily imply a surrender of those privileges to the jurisdiction of the court.
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