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Statutory Interpretation - Federal

. Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce v. Canada

In Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce v. Canada (Fed CA, 2023) the Federal Court of Appeal quoted from a leading federal statutory interpretation case:
[19] The Supreme Court of Canada, in Canada Trustco Mortgage Co. v. The Queen, 2005 SCC 54, [2005] 2 S.C.R. 601, set out the approach to be adopted in interpreting statutory provisions:
[10] It has been long established as a matter of statutory interpretation that "the words of an Act are to be read in their entire context and in their grammatical and ordinary sense harmoniously with the scheme of the Act, the object of the Act, and the intention of Parliament": see 65302 British Columbia Ltd. v. Canada, 1999 CanLII 639 (SCC), [1999] 3 S.C.R. 804, at para. 50. The interpretation of a statutory provision must be made according to a textual, contextual and purposive analysis to find a meaning that is harmonious with the Act as a whole. When the words of a provision are precise and unequivocal, the ordinary meaning of the words play a dominant role in the interpretive process. On the other hand, where the words can support more than one reasonable meaning, the ordinary meaning of the words plays a lesser role. The relative effects of ordinary meaning, context and purpose on the interpretive process may vary, but in all cases the court must seek to read the provisions of an Act as a harmonious whole.
[20] As noted by the Supreme Court, "“[w]hen the words of a provision are precise and unequivocal, the ordinary meaning of the words play a dominant role in the interpretive process”". The importance of considering the words chosen by Parliament and the dominant role that "“precise and unequivocal”" language plays in the interpretation of the provisions of the ITA was reinforced by the Supreme Court in Canada v. Loblaw Financial Holdings Inc., 2021 SCC 51, at paragraph 41.
. Canada (Attorney General) v. Burke

In Canada (Attorney General) v. Burke (Fed CA, 2022) the Federal Court of Appeal cites the preferred leading case on statutory interpretation in the federal court system, Canada Trustco:
[32] In Canada Trustco Mortgage Co. v. Canada, 2005 SCC 54, the Supreme Court of Canada stated that the words of a statute "“are to be read in their entire context and in their grammatical and ordinary sense harmoniously with the scheme of the Act, the object of the Act, and the intention of Parliament”": at para. 10, citing 65302 British Columbia Ltd. v. Canada, 1999 CanLII 639 (SCC), [1999] 3 S.C.R. 804 at para. 50.

[33] While language in a statutory provision is not to be interpreted independently of its context and legislative purpose, the Court nevertheless went on in Canada Trustco to observe that where the words of a statutory provision are precise and unequivocal, the ordinary meaning of the words will play a dominant role in the interpretive process: above at para. 10. Where, however, the words are capable of supporting more than one reasonable meaning, the ordinary meaning of the words will play a lesser role. Although the relative effects of ordinary meaning, context and purpose on the interpretive process may vary from case to case, courts must seek to read the provisions as a harmonious whole in every case: Canada Trustco, above at para. 10.



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Last modified: 05-05-23
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