Montréal (Canada) – Fasken Martineau, a leading international business law and litigation firm, announced today that the Supreme Court of Canada has issued its decision in Rogers Communications Inc. v. Châteauguay (City), reversing a decision of the Quebec Court of Appeal, and affirming that the federal government has exclusive jurisdiction over radiocommunication in Canada, including the authority to determine the location of radiocommunication infrastructure.
The case concerns the construction of a new radio antenna in Châteauguay, Québec, to address a gap in Rogers’ wireless network coverage in the City. Rogers identified a site and initiated consultations with Châteauguay regarding installation of an antenna at the site in March 2008, in accordance with the consultation process established by the federal Minister of Industry and Industry Canada (now Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada). Châteauguay objected to the installation of an antenna at the site. The Minister of Industry approved installation of the antenna at the site identified by Rogers and Rogers informed the City that it intended to proceed with construction. However, just as Rogers was about to commence construction, Châteauguay served Rogers with a notice of reserve, prohibiting Rogers from proceeding.
A majority of the Court held that the “pith and substance” of the notice of reserve was the location of radiocommunication equipment, which is a matter that falls within exclusive federal constritutional jurisdiction. The Court concluded that “when the purpose of a municipal measure is to prevent or block the spectrum holder from, or to delay it in, constructing its antenna system at the location approved by the Minister pursuant to federal legislation, the municipality is, for the purpose of the pith and substance analysis, exercising the federal power to choose the location of the antenna system”. The Court also held that the reserve notice was inapplicable to Rogers under the constitutional doctrine of interjurisdictional immunity. The Court noted that the facts Châteauguay acted with the sole purpose of preventing Rogers from establishing an antenna at the location authorized by the Minister of Industry.
“The decision is an important affirmation of federal authority over radiocommunication and telecommunications and the fact that the orderly and efficient deployment of the infrastructure required to provide these services is a core element of that authority,” said Montréal litigator and partner Pierre Y. Lefebvre.
The Fasken Martineau team that represented Rogers was led by litigators Pierre Y. Lefebvre, Vincent Cérat Lagana, Leslie J. Milton and Nikolas Blanchette.
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