Michael Yar Zuk v. Alberta Dental Association and College, et al.
(Alberta) (Civil) (By Leave)
Canadian charter (Non-criminal) - Freedom of expression (s. 2(b)) - Charter of Rights — Freedom of expression — Whether the Court of Appeal erred in failing to apply a robust approach to the balancing and reasonableness process in the regulation of speech by a professional regulatory body — The College is a statutory body that exercises governmental authority and the Court of Appeal should have scrutinized the decisions below that resulted in the punishment of Dr. Zuk for his expression — Whether the Court of Appeal erred in finding that Dr. Zuk’s public communications should be labeled as advertising — Whether the Court of Appeal erred in finding that the value of protecting the dignity and integrity of the dental profession was sufficient to overcome Dr. Zuk’s expressive rights – Charter of Rights and Freedoms, s. 2(b).
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Dr. Zuk is a dentist. The Alberta Dental Association and College (“ADA+C”), is the governing body of the dentistry profession. The practice of dentistry is a regulated profession under the auspices of the Health Professions Act, RSA 2000, c. H-7 (HPA), which grants ADA+C certain powers to regulate the professionalism and ethics of its members. Beginning in late 2007, Dr. Zuk took to speaking out, through written, online, and interview publications about his practice, the profession, and the ADA+C. The ADA+C issued a Notice of Hearing to Dr. Zuk and commenced an investigation and referred all complaints to a discipline hearing. The Hearing Tribunal of the ADA+C held a hearing and found that Dr. Zuk’s conduct constituted unprofessional conduct within the meaning of the HPA and imposed sanctions. Dr. Zuk appealed to the Appeal Panel of the Council of the ADA+C (the “Council”). The Council dismissed Dr. Zuk’s appeal. The Court of Appeal concluded: that though many of the Tribunal’s conclusions were affirmed, the appeal was allowed in part. The finding of unprofessional conduct for the breach of an undertaking (First Notice of Hearing, allegations 21 and 22) was unreasonable, as was the Hearing Tribunal’s assessment of the gravity of Dr. Zuk’s failure to cooperate with the investigator. The matter was referred back to the Council for consideration of sanction and costs.
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