Toronto Port Authority Injunction Protects Freedom of Expression and the Rights of Airport Users

TORONTO, April 17, 2013 /CNW/ - The Toronto Port Authority (TPA) has received an injunction order from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice that prevents members of the Canadian Office and Professional Employees (COPE) Union and its supporters from continuing to obstruct the operations of Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (BBTCA).

The TPA and Porter applied for the injunction following continued disruptive action at BBTCA that obstructed operations of the airport and contravened the law.

The wide-ranging order issued by the Ontario Superior Court on April 12th provides for protection for the BBTCA and its customers that TPA and Porter sought to achieve.

Inaccurate information published and sourced from COPE (the union representing the 22 striking fuel handlers at Porter's Fixed Based Operations (FBO)) has suggested that the TPA and Porter sought to "stifle freedom of expression in the airline fuel handlers' strike" through the injunction. This is misleading and factually incorrect.

TPA and Porter did not, as alleged by COPE, "seek to severely restrict COPE's ability to conduct demonstrations at Little Norway Park at the corner of Bathurst Street and Queen's Quay West".  The TPA was forced to seek an injunction following a series of escalating and obstructionist protests, including the commandeering of the BBTCA ferry, Marilyn Bell I, by approximately 30 masked individuals on Sunday March 10, 2013, which led to a 90 minute stoppage in ferry service.

The TPA had, in good faith, offered a picketing protocol to COPE many weeks ago which essentially mirrors the Court's Order, including permitting COPE to have up to three persons handing out leaflets outside of the mainland ferry terminal to the Airport in order to peacefully communicate their message about the strike. COPE refused to agree to such a protocol and broke off negotiations, which left TPA and Porter with no alternative but to protect the Airport, including its employees and passengers, by Court action.

Geoff Wilson, President and CEO of the TPA said, "We respect the Court's decision, the right to freedom of expression and the right to operate the airport. We remain focused on the safe and efficient operating of Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport and are committed to working to offer as superior a level of customer service as possible during this disruption.  We are grateful for the continued outstanding support of our passengers."

The TPA is particularly pleased that the Court agreed with its position that Ontario trespass laws apply to BBTCA property to the same extent as to other private property, and did not accept COPE's position that the BBTCA should be considered public property for picketing purposes. Unlike most other operators of airports in Canada, TPA is a port authority which operates the BBTCA on its own behalf, independent of the federal government and not as an agent of the Crown. None of the Airport lands are public federal lands.

BACKGROUND:

The Court's Order prohibits COPE and its supporters from:

1. Entering on any of TPA's BBTCA lands without the written permission of TPA (which, the Court ordered, would constitute "trespass" at law), except that three picketers are allowed to hand out leaflets at the entry doors of the BBTCA mainland ferry building and at pick up and drop off locations for Porter Airlines);
2. Picketing on Eireann Quay or other public roadways or access points leading to or from the BBTCA or at any shuttle passenger pick-up or drop-off point location, except that picketing activity is allowed on the sidewalk on the east side of Eireann Quay up to TPA's property line;
3. Physically preventing, impeding, obstructing, causing a delay, or otherwise interfering in any manner whatsoever with:
      a. any vehicles or persons using the BBTCA (except for inbound fuel tanker trucks which may be subject to delay for no more than 10 minutes in an area designed by TPA);
      b. the duties of TPA's security and cleaning staff and/or contractors;
      c. the operation of the ferry;
      d. the operation of shuttle bus or taxi services;
      e. the operation of parking facilities;
      f. any BBTCA construction activities;
      g. the operations of BBTCA tenants or contractors;
      h. roadways to, from and within the BBTCA; or
      i. the safe and secure operation of the BBTCA or the operation of any of its tenants;
4. Threatening or intimidating any employees, contractors or tenants of TPA or Porter or any members of the public having dealings with any of them, including at any designated shuttle passenger pick-up and drop-off location; or
5. Creating a nuisance, intimidating passengers or engaging in any activities which may degrade passenger experience, including by the use of bullhorns, loudspeakers or other devices which amplify sound or which make noise (e.g. horns, drums, whistles, etc.), including at any designated shuttle passenger pick-up and drop-off location.

The Court Order further provides that Toronto Police Service is authorized to arrest and remove any person who has knowledge of and contravenes the Order.

About the Toronto Port Authority (www.torontoport.com)

The Toronto Port Authority (TPA) owns and operates Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, the Port of Toronto (Terminals 51 and 52), and Toronto's Outer Harbour Marina. In addition to moving more than two million passengers through the airport in 2012, the Port Authority provides transportation, distribution, storage and container services to businesses at the Port, and owns and operates Toronto's largest freshwater marina. The Toronto Port Authority was incorporated on June 8, 1999 as a business enterprise under the Canada Marine Act as the successor to the Toronto Harbour Commissioners.


SOURCE Toronto Port Authority




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