Ordinary Meaning

Table of Contents

Cases

Almadhoun v. Canada, 2018 FCA 112

supposed purpose cannot supplant clear language

In confirming the finding below that the taxpayer, who came to Canada as a refugee claimant, was not entitled to the Canada child tax benefit, De Montigny JA stated (at para. 17):

[T]his Court reiterated in …. Quinco … that where a provision is clear and unambiguous, its words must simply be applied; one cannot rely on a “supposed purpose” to “supplant” clear language. Such is the case here.

Locations of other summaries Wordcount
Tax Topics - Income Tax Act - Section 122.6 - Eligible Individual - Paragraph (e) unsuccessful refugee claimant who was subsequently permitted to stay on compassionate grounds did not qualify 314
Tax Topics - Income Tax Act - Section 171 - Subsection 171(1) - Paragraph 171(1)(b) - Subparagraph 171(1)(b)(iii) TCC, after finding against the taxpayer, improperly directed CRA to “seriously” consider interest relief and tax remission 262
Tax Topics - Other Legislation/Constitution - Charter (Constitution Act, 1982) - Subsection 15(1) immigrant status not a protected s. 15 characteristic 255

Canada v. Cheema, 2018 FCA 45

Court should not depart from usual interpretation principles in seeking a sensible result

Before finding that the taxpayer did not satisfy the wording of the requirements for the new housing rebate, Stratas JA stated (at paras. 77-78):

The exhortation to judges [by Bowman CJ] in United Parcel Service to strive for “a sensible, practical and common sense result” is unsupported by authority. …

Seeking “a sensible, practical and common sense result” is quite different from dispassionately and objectively examining the text, context and purpose of the legislation in issue; the latter turns on the nature of the legislation while the former depends on the nature of the judge. One judge may think a result is sensible, practical and in accordance with common sense; another may say it is nothing of the sort.

Locations of other summaries Wordcount
Tax Topics - Excise Tax Act - Section 254 - Subsection 254(2) - Paragraph 254(2)(b) third party who did not intend to occupy was liable at the purchase agreement time 335
Tax Topics - Excise Tax Act - Section 133 s. 133 effectively deemed an acquisition of a future new home at the time of signing the purchase agreement 255
Tax Topics - Statutory Interpretation - Ease of Administration interpretation that favours administrative efficiency is to be favoured 190
Tax Topics - Excise Tax Act - Regulations - New Harmonized Value-Added Tax System Regulations, No. 2 - Section 40 co-purchaser with no intended beneficial interest was required to satisfy ETA s. 254(2) rules 165
Tax Topics - Income Tax Act - 101-110 - Section 104 - Subsection 104(1) "legal acquirer" rather than intended beneficial owner was the purchaser 213

The Mark Anthony Group Inc. v. The Queen, 2017 TCC 141

patent ambiguity revealed if text cannot be applied

Before concluding that the wording of an excise duty exemption referenced all of the ingredients of wine rather than only those made from plant products (and before going on to find that the only two interpretations that were supportable by the text produced absurd results), Graham J stated (at para. 103):

If the purposive analysis had demonstrated that it was impossible to make wine using only agricultural or plant products, a patent textual ambiguity would have been revealed. The phrase “composed wholly of” would have to have been given a meaning other than its normal grammatical meaning. For example, if I say “this car is composed wholly of steel made in Canada”, because you know that it is impossible to make a car using only steel, you automatically adjust the ordinary grammatical meaning of the sentence and interpret it to mean that any steel in the car must have been made in Canada. In other words, your purposive analysis of how cars are made reveals an ambiguity in your textual understanding of the sentence and you therefore adjust the ordinary grammatical meaning of the sentence so that it makes sense. The problem with the exemption in question is that there is no evidence that it is either impossible or even difficult to make wine using only agricultural or plant products

Locations of other summaries Wordcount
Tax Topics - Other Legislation/Constitution - Federal - Excise Act, 2001 - Section 135 - Subsection 135(2) - Paragraph 135(2)(a) exemption references wine “produced in Canada and, when produced, composed wholly of agricultural or plant product grown in Canada” 505

MacKay v. Canada, 2015 FCA 94, aff'g 2014 DTC 1059 [at 2959], 2014 TCC 33

no relief for "harsh" (timing difference) consequences

In rejecting a submission based on the harshness of s. 34.1 in the taxpayer's circumstances, Woods J noted that the allegedly harsh effect reversed in the following year – and in any event "it is well established that this Court cannot grant relief on grounds only that the result is harsh: Lans v The Queen, 2011 FCA 290."

Ryer JA added (at FCA para. 3, quoting Chaya, 2004 327 at para. 4): "The Court must take the statute as it finds it."

Locations of other summaries Wordcount
Tax Topics - Income Tax Act - Section 34.1 - Subsection 34.1(1) no relief for "harsh" (timing difference) consequences 137

Canada v. Quinco Financial Inc., 2014 FCA 108

apply unambiguous wording even if taxpayer windfall

The GST credit note rule in s. 232 provided that where a registrant received a credit note for a taxable purchase made by it, any GST included in that credit note would be added to its net tax liability for the reporting period in which it received the credit note to the extent that it had claimed an input tax credit for the related purchase in its return for that or a preceding reporting period. The legislative drafter missed the point (subsequently addressed in a retroactive amendment to s. 225(3.1)) that the related ITCs potentially could be claimed in a return for a reporting period following that in which a credit note was received, so that such ITCs were not be recaptured under s. 232.

D'Auray J. in the Tax Court confirmed this legislative gap, so that the registrant received full ITCs for the GST on its original purchases notwithstanding that it subsequently received credit notes for $2.3M of those claims.

In affirming this decision, Pelletier JA stated (at para. 9):

There may be cases where precisely-worded provisions or their interaction creates an advantage or a windfall… . But we do not interpret taxation provisions in a tendentious or result-oriented way to enhance the federal treasury… . Instead, absent words allowing us to address situations of abuse or windfall, where the provisions are precisely-worded, clear and unambiguous, they must be given their plain effect.

St. Arnaud v. Canada, 2013 DTC 5074 [at 5909], 2013 FCA 88

context always considered

Before rejecting a literal interpretation of ITA s. 146(9) advanced by the Crown, Sharlow JA stated (at para. 59):

[A] literal interpretation of a statute cannot be accepted without further examination. In interpreting any statutory provision, even one that appears to be clear on its face, it is necessary to consider its context and purpose by reading the provisions of the statute 'as a harmonious whole' (Canada Trustco....at para.10).

Sheldon Inwentash and Lynn Factor Charitable Foundation v. Canada, 2012 FCA 136

clear words dominate

Before finding (at para. 33) that the language used in the definition in s. 149.1(1) of a public foundation indicated that "Parliament has precisely and unequivocably evidenced its intent that public foundations must have more than one trustee," Dawson JA stated (at para. 27):

The words, if clear, will dominate; if not, they yield to an interpretation that best meets the overriding purpose of the statute. See Celgene Corp. v. Canada...2011 SCC 1, [2011] 1 S.C.R. 3 at paragraph 21.

She then went on to refer to a discussion paper of the Department of Finance before concluding that this interpretation accorded with the legislative purpose. ("[T]he requirement that there be more than one arm's length trustee provides greater assurance that a public foundation will not be used for tax avoidance purposes" (para. 42).)

Toronto-Dominion Bank v. Canada, 2011 DTC 5125 [at 6061], 2011 FCA 221, [2011] 6 CTC 19

clear wording

The Minister contended that s. 112(3) was intended to prevent surplus-stripping, and should be interpreted expansively so as to achieve that effect in the present case. The Court dismissed this argument because it would contradict the clear wording of s. 112(3)(b). Evans J.A. stated (at para. 61):

In my opinion, what the Crown urges as the correct interpretation of subsection 112(3) is, because of the specificity of its text, more properly characterized as a proposed amendment.

Bastien Estate v. Canada, 2011 DTC 5118 [at 6014], 2011 SCC 38, [2011] 2 S.C.R. 710

avoid forensic dialectics

Before going on to find that interest income earned by a status Indian from a deposit with an on-reserve caisse populaire was exempt under s. 87 of the Indian Act as personal property situated on the reserve, Cromwell J stated (para.14):

Courts should interpret the phrase "on a reserve" having due regard to the "substance and the plain and ordinary meaning of the language used rather than to forensic dialectics."

Exida.Com Limited Liability Company v. Canada, 2010 DTC 5101, 2010 FCA 159

purposive interpretation must be consistent with words

Although the legislative intent for s. 162(2.1) was to have a non-resident corporation pay an alternative penalty when it had no liability for income tax (para. 28), "those charged with implementing the legislative plan failed in their task" (para. 38). Nöel, J.A. stated (at para. 32):

[W]hile a contextual and purposive analysis is useful in identifying amongst the meanings which a word (or phrase) can have the one that best reflects Parliamentary intent, it cannot be used to give the legislative language a meaning which it cannot bear ...

Locations of other summaries Wordcount
Tax Topics - Income Tax Act - Section 162 - Subsection 162(2.1) no substantive tax liability 64
Tax Topics - Income Tax Act - Section 162 - Subsection 162(7) "penalty" does not include nil penalty 90
Tax Topics - Statutory Interpretation - Territorial Limits no filing requirement if no connection with Canada 77

Canada Trustco Mortgage Co., v. The Queen, 2005 DTC 5523, [2005] 2 S.C.R. 601, 2005 SCC 54

primacy to ordinary meaning if unequivocal

In the course of a general introduction, McLachlin CJ stated (at para. 10):

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.

Locations of other summaries Wordcount
Tax Topics - Income Tax Act - Section 245 - Subsection 245(1) - Tax Benefit 126
Tax Topics - Income Tax Act - Section 245 - Subsection 245(4) policy of CCA provisions relied on cost irrespective of risk mitigation 207
Tax Topics - Income Tax Act - Section 248 - Subsection 248(10) "in contemplation" references "because of" or "in relation to" 115
Tax Topics - Statutory Interpretation - Certainty 127

Stewart v. Canada, 2002 DTC 6969, 2002 SCC 46, [2002] 2 S.C.R. 645

avoid judicial rule-making

Before finding that the taxpayer was not required to establish that he had a reasonable expectation of profit ("REOP") with respect to four rental condominium units held by him, the Court stated (at p. 6979) that:

"The REOP test has been applied independently of provisions of the Act to second-guess bona fide commercial decisions of the taxpayer and therefore runs afoul of the principle that courts should avoid judicial rule-making in tax law."

Canada v. Citibank Canada, 2002 DTC 6876, 2002 FCA 128

The legislative history of the definition of term preferred share in s. 248(1) indicated that the provision applied to a specific and sophisticated segment of taxpayers, with the result that it was appropriate that the phrase "guarantee, security or similar indemnity or covenant" be interpreted in accordance with its more technical meaning derived from the laws that applied to commerce in general and public business companies in particular, rather than its ordinary dictionary meaning.

Malone J.A. also stated (at p. 6881):

"... as indicated in Bon-Secours, once ambiguity becomes an issue, the legislative provision should be given a strict or liberal interpretation depending on the purpose underlying the provision. That purpose must be identified in light of the context of the statute, its objective and the apparent legislative intent. Hence it is necessary to canvas the purpose and intent underlying the definition of 'term preferred share'."

Will-Kare Paving & Contracting Ltd. v. Canada, 2000 DTC 6467, 2000 SCC 36, [2000] 1 S.C.R. 915 (SCC)

Major J. indicated (at p. 6473) that in providing an incentive for equipment that was used in Canada primarily in the manufacturing or processing of goods "for sale or lease", "Parliament has chosen to use language that imports relatively fine private law distinctions", and that "the technical nature of the Act does not lend itself to broadening the principle of plain meaning to embrace popular meaning.

Locations of other summaries Wordcount
Tax Topics - Income Tax Regulations - Schedules - Schedule II - Class 29 supplied asphalt was merely an accession to customers' real property 146
Tax Topics - Statutory Interpretation - Hansard, explanatory notes, etc. 9

Maccabi Canada v. Canada (Minister of National Revenue), 98 DTC 6526 (FCA)

After reviewing diversified references provided by counsel to the appellant on the use of the words "nation-wide" on the internet, Létourneau J.A. stated (at p. 6528):

"These references are obviously not determinative of the issue before us, but they help to understand the common and usual meaning generally ascribed to these words."

Friesen v. Canada, 95 DTC 5551, [1995] 3 S.C.R. 103

After concluding that property held as an adventure in the nature of trade qualified as "inventory", and after noting that such property would qualify as inventory for accounting purposes, Major J. stated (at p. 5557):

"... the Court should be cautious to adopt an interpretation which is clearly inconsistent with the commonly accepted usage of a technical term particularly where an interpretation consistent with common usage is more natural on a plain reading of the definition."

MCA Television Ltd. v. The Queen, 94 DTC 6375 (FCTD)

MacKay J. found that the phrase "motion picture films" in Article XIIIC of the 1942 Canada-U.S. Income Tax Convention did not include made-for-television movies or other television productions in light of evidence that this was how the phrase "motion-picture-film" was interpreted in the industry.

Canada v. Antosko, 94 DTC 6314, [1994] 2 S.C.R. 312

In finding that the taxpayers are entitled to a deduction under s. 20(14)(b) because they complied with the expressed conditions of the provision, Iacobucci J. stated (p. 6321):

"Where the words of the section are not ambiguous, it is not for this Court to find that the appellants should be disentitled to a deduction because they do not deserve a 'windfall', as the respondent contends. In the absence of a situation of ambiguity, such that the Court must look to the results of a transaction to assist in ascertaining the intent of Parliament, a normative assessment of the consequences of the application of a given provision is within the ambit of the legislature, not the Courts."

R. v. Cappell, 92 DTC 6591 (Ont CA)

Given that the phrase "about to" in s. 232(3.1) was not obscure or ambiguous, there was no justification for departing from its grammatical and ordinary sense in order to give effect to an allegedly differing scheme of the Act.

Locations of other summaries Wordcount
Tax Topics - Income Tax Act - Section 232 - Subsection 232(3.1) 68

British Columbia Telephone Co. Ltd. v. The Queen, 92 DTC 6129 (FCA)

After noting that the statement in the Sussex Peerage case (that "if the words of the statute are in themselves precise and unambiguous, then no more can be necessary than to expound those words in their natural and ordinary sense") could "no longer be considered as a satisfactory statement of the law" (p. 6132), MacGuigan J.A. found that the word "cable" should be considered to be an "open-textured" term which therefore could include devices which were not contemplated at the time of the enactment of the relevant provision, i.e., fibre optic cables.

O'Sullivan v. The Queen, 90 DTC 6278 (FCTD)

Collier J. found that the word "objected" in the transitional provisions respecting s. 225.1 should be interpreted in its ordinary and grammatical sense rather than in its technical sense, and took into account the purpose of s. 225.1, being the protection of taxpayer's rights.

The Queen v. Morrissey, 89 DTC 5080 (FCA)

After quoting extracts from Hansard, in which the purpose of the monetary limit in s. 31(1) was discussed, Mahoney, J.A. stated:

"The judiciary must interpret what Parliament has said, which is not necessarily what it may have intended to say."

C. & E. Cmners. v. West Yorkshire Hospital (Contract Services) Ltd., [1988] BTC 5095 (Q.B.D.)

"First, while (the context apart) one would expect payment to be construed in its ordinary sense, it is a well recognized legal concept. Accordingly I am sceptical that, in a revenue statute of all places, one would prefer a construction which rejects the lawyer's accurate use of the word and prefers a layman's inaccurate use of the word - particularly as VAT is a tax on which those in doubt will be likely to seek advice from the professions rather than in the saloon bar." (p. 5100)

Nova, an Alberta Corporation v. The Queen, 88 DTC 6386, [1988] 2 CTC 167 (FCA)

Urie, J.A. indicated that since the word "pipeline" is a word in fairly common usage, it should be construed in its popular sense, and that:

"I would have thought that ... construing it in its popular sense would mean that sense 'which people conversant with the subject matter with which the statute is dealing [in this case those utilizing the service of the pipeline for the transmission of, gas, oil, water or solids] would attribute to it' not the popular sense derived from the perception of the man in the street not conversant with either the user industries or pipelines."

The Queen v. Merali, 88 DTC 6173, [1988] 1 CTC 320 (FCA)

"It would be incorrect, in my view, for courts of law to create prohibitions which do not exist in the statute. There is nothing in the Act to prevent a resident from carrying over non-capital losses incurred when he was a non-resident taxpayer having elected during his non-resident years to be treated as a resident under the terms of subsection 216(1)."

Hodson v. The Queen, 88 DTC 6001, [1988] 1 CTC 2 (FCA)

"I am unable to ascertain anything in the context or purpose of the statute or the circumstances of use which would justify an interpretation different from that resulting from a literal interpretation."

Locations of other summaries Wordcount
Tax Topics - Income Tax Act - Section 60 - Paragraph 60(b) 68

Canterra Energy Ltd. v. The Queen, 87 DTC 5019, [1987] 1 CTC 89 (FCA)

The court accepted the Crown's submission "that only if the context supports the contention can a technical meaning be given a word in a statute in preference to its ordinary and grammatical meaning." However, the word "minus", when used in the context of a provision which in essence was an algebraic formula, had its technical algebraic meaning.

D.MNR for Customs and Excise v. Amoco Canada Petroleum Co. Ltd., 86 DTC 6008, [1986] 1 CTC 124 (FCA)

The word "directly" was given its grammatical and ordinary meaning since neither the Excise Tax Act nor industry practice attributed to it a special meaning.

McBurney v. The Queen, 84 DTC 6494, [1984] CTC 466 (FCTD), rev'd 85 DTC 5433, [1985] 2CTC 214 (FCA)

It was accepted that in determining what constitutes a charity for purposes of the Act, regard should be had to the legal, rather than the popular, meaning of "charity".

Pollon v. The Queen, 84 DTC 6139, [1984] CTC 131 (FCTD)

"[I]n a taxing statute where the technical meaning of a word is in conflict with the common ordinary meaning of that word, then it is the latter meaning which should be applied by the court." It was further stated that the activities of the taxpayer would be considered by the general public to constitute "farming."

Roome v. Edwards, [1982] A.C. 279 (HL)

"Since 'settlement' and 'trusts' are legal terms, which are also used by business men or laymen in a business or practical sense, I think that the question whether a particular set of facts amounts to a settlement should be approached by asking what a person, with knowledge of the legal context of the word under established doctrine and applying this knowledge in a practical and common-sense manner to the facts under examination, would conclude."

Tootal Broadhurst Lee Co. Ltd. v. I.R.C., [1949] 1 All E.R. 261 (HL)

It was found that the meaning of the word "investments" should be founded "on the meaning of the word for the man engaged in trade or business rather than for the man in the street" (p. 268).

See Also

Besner v. The Queen, 2008 DTC 4299, 2008 TCC 404

V.A. Miller J was assisted in her conclusion that the word "complaint" in s. 239(3) was used in its technical legal sense rather than having its ordinary everyday meaning given that it had the former meaning in s. 244 of the Act.

Imperial Oil Ltd. v. The Queen, 2003 DTC 179, 2003 TCC 46

An argument of the Crown that a taxpayer is not entitled to object to an assessment based on its own return of income or an assessment that does not result in an adverse adjustment, was rejected. Bowman A.C.J. stated (at p. 183) that:

"There must be very compelling reasons to find that a taxpayer's rights under the Income Tax Act are implicitly restricted where the rights are explicitly conferred and no restrictions are explicitly expressed."

MacNiven v. Westmoreland Investments Ltd., [2001] 1 All ER 865 (HL)

Before declining to apply the Ramsay line of cases to find (as alleged by the Crown) that the taxpayer in fact did not make a "payment" of interest, Lord Hoffmann stated (at p. 882):

"Taxing statutes often refer to purely legal concepts. They use expressions of which a commercial man, when asked what they mean, would say 'you had better ask a lawyer'."

London Life Insurance Co. v. The Queen, 2000 DTC 1774 (TCC)

Before going on to find that deferred tax credits were not reserves for Part VI purposes, Mogan TCJ. noted (at p. 1777) that expert accounting evidence "has very little relevance or weight in the interpretation of a particular word or phrase".

McGorman v. The Queen, 99 DTC 699 (TCC)

In explaining the relevance to the interpretation of paragraph 8(1)(c) of the testimony of experts in religious matters, Bowman TCJ. stated (at p. 701):

"Here we are dealing with words used in a provision that deals, broadly speaking, with ecclesiastical concepts. It is, in determining the meaning to be assigned to such concepts in paragraph 8(1)(c), at least informative to know how these concepts have developed historically and have been articulated within an ecclesiastical context provided, of course, that the court remains mindful of its ultimate responsibility of determining the meaning in law of the words used."

Wheeler v. The Queen, 97 DTC 1156 (TCC)

Lamarre TCJ. found that evidence of usage within the oil and gas industry of "discovery" and "accumulation" would assist in interpreting those words as used in the Act.