Fort Frances Pulp and Paper v. Manitoba Free Press

Fort Frances Pulp and Paper v. Manitoba Free Press

Fort Francis Pulp and Paper Co. v. Manitoba Free Press Co. [1923] A.C. 695 (P.C.) is a famous Canadian Constitutional decision of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council on the "emergency doctrine" of the peace, order and good government power in the Constitution Act, 1867. The Council upheld a war-time price control scheme, enacted under the War Measures Act, despite the war having already ended.

Background

Since during the war, the federal government had been maintaining strict control on the price of newsprint. Typically, the pricing of goods are in the exclusive jurisdiction of the provincial government under the property and civil rights power.

Manitoba Free Press, a Winnipeg newspaper publisher, regularly purchased paper from Fort Frances Pulp and Paper at a price set by the price control scheme. Fort Frances attempted to raise their prices but Manitoba Free Press brought an action against them for violation of the price scheme. Fort Frances argued that the price scheme was unconstitutional. The government argued that they had the constitutional authority to do so under the p.o.g.g. power which allowed the federal government to make laws related to national emergencies.

The issue before the Council was whether the federal government had power to control prices under the "emergency doctrine" and if so for how long.

Opinion of the Council

The Council held that it was not in their power to determine if there was a "national emergency", it is entirely in the authority of Parliament to determine the existence of a national authority. An emergency is determined by common sense, thus World War I was clearly a "national emergency" and was sufficient reason to invoke the "emergency doctrine". Nonetheless, the Council noted, any use of the emergency power must be temporary. However, it was for the federal government to decide when the state of emergency was over, and as such, "very clear evidence that the crisis had wholly passed away would be required to justify the judiciary, even when the question raised was one of ultra vires which it had to decide, in over-ruling the decision of the Government that exceptional measures were still requisite."

This decision, like many others of its time, completely ignored the "national concern" doctrine established earlier in "Russell v. The Queen".

ee also

* List of Judicial Committee of the Privy Council cases


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