Are there limits to Federal Court of Canada’s powers to grant relief?
Yes, there are limits to the Federal Court’s powers. Every law of Canada shall be so construed and applied as not to abrogate, abridge or infringe or to authorize the abrogation, abridgment or infringement of any of the rights or freedoms recognized and declared in the Bill of Rights and in the Constitution Act.
Federal Court Powers
Federal Court powers are limited by the:
- Constitution Act, 1867, s. 92
- Canadian Bill of Rights, S.C. 1960, c. 44
- Federal Courts Act,
- Trade-Marks Act, and
- Provincial acts of the Province where a dispute takes place, such as Ontario’s Property and Civil Rights Act.
- Interpretation Act (Canada)
The Federal Court of Canada cannot resolve property and civil rights disputes, regarding real or intangible property, except for those enumerated in Section 91 of the Constitution Act, 1867, because they are not courts of general jurisdiction and disputes regarding Property and Civil Rights are reserved to the Provinces.
Section 91 of the Constitution Act, 1867, provides that:
It shall be lawful for the Queen, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate and House of Commons, to make Laws for the Peace, Order, and good Government of Canada, in relation to all Matters not coming within the Classes of Subjects by this Act assigned exclusively to the Legislatures of the Provinces; and for greater Certainty, but not so as to restrict the Generality of the foregoing Terms of this Section, it is hereby declared that (notwithstanding anything in this Act) the exclusive Legislative Authority of the Parliament of Canada extends to all Matters coming within the Classes of Subjects next hereinafter enumerated; that is to say,
1. Repealed. 1A. The Public Debt and Property. 2. The Regulation of Trade and Commerce. 2A. Unemployment insurance. 3. The raising of Money by any Mode or System of Taxation. 4. The borrowing of Money on the Public Credit. 5. Postal Service. 6. The Census and Statistics. 7. Militia, Military and Naval Service, and Defence. 8. The fixing of and providing for the Salaries and Allowances of Civil and other Officers of the Government of Canada. 9. Beacons, Buoys, Lighthouses, and Sable Island. 10. Navigation and Shipping. 11. Quarantine and the Establishment and Maintenance of Marine Hospitals. 12. Sea Coast and Inland Fisheries. 13. Ferries between a Province and any British or Foreign Country or between Two Provinces. 14. Currency and Coinage. 15. Banking, Incorporation of Banks, and the Issue of Paper Money. 16. Savings Banks. 17. Weights and Measures. 18. Bills of Exchange and Promissory Notes. 19. Interest. 20. Legal Tender. 21. Bankruptcy and Insolvency. 22. Patents of Invention and Discovery. 23. Copyrights. 24. Indians, and Lands reserved for the Indians. 25. Naturalization and Aliens. 26. Marriage and Divorce. 27. The Criminal Law, except the Constitution of Courts of Criminal Jurisdiction, but including the Procedure in Criminal Matters. 28. The Establishment, Maintenance, and Management of Penitentiaries. 29. Such Classes of Subjects as are expressly excepted in the Enumeration of the Classes of Subjects by this Act assigned exclusively to the Legislatures of the Provinces.
And any Matter coming within any of the Classes of Subjects enumerated in this Section shall not be deemed to come within the Class of Matters of a local or private Nature comprised in the Enumeration of the Classes of Subjects by this Act assigned exclusively to the Legislatures of the Provinces.
Noteup: Section 91 cases on canlii.org
EXCLUSIVE POWERS OF PROVINCIAL LEGISLATURES
Section 92 of the Constitution Act, 1867, provides that:
In each Province the Legislature may exclusively make Laws in relation to Matters coming within the Classes of Subjects next hereinafter enumerated; that is to say,
1. Repealed. 2. Direct Taxation within the Province in order to the raising of a Revenue for Provincial Purposes. 3. The borrowing of Money on the sole Credit of the Province 4. The Establishment and Tenure of Provincial Offices and the Appointment and Payment of Provincial Officers. 5. The Management and Sale of the Public Lands belonging to the Province and of the Timber and Wood thereon. 6. The Establishment, Maintenance, and Management of Public and Reformatory Prisons in and for the Province. 7. The Establishment, Maintenance, and Management of Hospitals, Asylums, Charities, and Eleemosynary Institutions in and for the Province, other than Marine Hospitals. 8. Municipal Institutions in the Province. 9. Shop, Saloon, Tavern, Auctioneer, and other Licences in order to the raising of a Revenue for Provincial, Local, or Municipal Purposes. 10. Local Works and Undertakings other than such as are of the following Classes:
(a) Lines of Steam or other Ships, Railways, Canals, Telegraphs, and other Works and Undertakings connecting the Province with any other or others of the Provinces, or extending beyond the Limits of the Province: (b) Lines of Steam Ships between the Province and any British or Foreign Country: (c) Such Works as, although wholly situate within the Province, are before or after their Execution declared by the Parliament of Canada to be for the general Advantage of Canada or for the Advantage of Two or more of the Provinces.
11. The Incorporation of Companies with Provincial Objects. 12. The Solemnization of Marriage in the Province. 13. Property and Civil Rights in the Province. 14. The Administration of Justice in the Province, including the Constitution, Maintenance, and Organization of Provincial Courts, both of Civil and of Criminal Jurisdiction, and including Procedure in Civil Matters in those Courts. 15. The Imposition of Punishment by Fine, Penalty, or Imprisonment for enforcing any Law of the Province made in relation to any Matter coming within any of the Classes of Subjects enumerated in this Section. 16. Generally all Matters of a merely local or private Nature in the Province.
Noteup: Section 92 cases on canlii.org.
BILL OF RIGHTS
PART I of the Canadian Bill of Rights provides:
Marginal note: Recognition and declaration of rights and freedoms
1. It is hereby recognized and declared that in Canada there have existed and shall continue to exist without discrimination by reason of race, national origin, colour, religion or sex, the following human rights and fundamental freedoms, namely,
(a) the right of the individual to life, liberty, security of the person and enjoyment of property, and the right not to be deprived thereof except by due process of law;
Construction of law
2. Every law of Canada shall, unless it is expressly declared by an Act of the Parliament of Canada that it shall operate notwithstanding the Canadian Bill of Rights, be so construed and applied as not to abrogate, abridge or infringe or to authorize the abrogation, abridgment or infringement of any of the rights or freedoms herein recognized and declared, and in particular, no law of Canada shall be construed or applied so as to ….
(e) deprive a person of the right to a fair hearing in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice for the determination of his rights and obligations;
Duties of Minister of Justice
3. (1) Subject to subsection (2), the Minister of Justice shall, in accordance with such regulations as may be prescribed by the Governor in Council, examine every regulation transmitted to the Clerk of the Privy Council for registration pursuant to the Statutory Instruments Act and every Bill introduced in or presented to the House of Commons by a Minister of the Crown, in order to ascertain whether any of the provisions thereof are inconsistent with the purposes and provisions of this Part and he shall report any such inconsistency to the House of Commons at the first convenient opportunity.
Marginal note: Exception
(2) A regulation need not be examined in accordance with subsection (1) if prior to being made it was examined as a proposed regulation in accordance with section 3 of the Statutory Instruments Act to ensure that it was not inconsistent with the purposes and provisions of this Part.
- 1960, c. 44, s. 3;
- 1970-71-72, c. 38, s. 29;
- 1985, c. 26, s. 105;
- 1992, c. 1, s. 144(F).
Marginal note:Short title
4. The provisions of this Part shall be known as the Canadian Bill of Rights.
Marginal note: Savings
Marginal note: “Law of Canada” defined
(2) The expression “law of Canada” in Part I means an Act of the Parliament of Canada enacted before or after the coming into force of this Act, any order, rule or regulation thereunder, and any law in force in Canada or in any part of Canada at the commencement of this Act that is subject to be repealed, abolished or altered by the Parliament of Canada.
Marginal note: Jurisdiction of Parliament
(3) The provisions of Part I shall be construed as extending only to matters coming within the legislative authority of the Parliament of Canada.
Now both the Federal Courts Act and the Trade-Marks Act fall within the legislative authority of the Parliament of Canada. And section 53.2(1) of the Trade-Marks Act provides:
Power of court to grant relief
53.2 (1) If a court is satisfied, on application of any interested person, that any act has been done contrary to this Act, the court may make any order that it considers appropriate in the circumstances, including an order providing for relief by way of injunction and the recovery of damages or profits, for punitive damages and for the destruction or other disposition of any offending goods, packaging, labels and advertising material and of any equipment used to produce the goods, packaging, labels or advertising material.
Marginal note: Notice to interested persons
(2) Before making an order for destruction or other disposition, the court shall direct that notice be given to any person who has an interest or right in the item to be destroyed or otherwise disposed of, unless the court is of the opinion that the interests of justice do not require that notice be given.
- 1993, c. 44, s. 234;
- 2014, c. 32, s. 45.
All disputes regarding the ownership of property in Ontario are governed by the Property and Civil Rights Act of Ontario:
Rule of decision
1. In all matters of controversy relative to property and civil rights, resort shall be had to the laws of England as they stood on the 15th day of October, 1792, as the rule for the decision of the same, and all matters relative to testimony and legal proof in the investigation of fact and the forms thereof in the courts of Ontario shall be regulated by the rules of evidence established in England, as they existed on that day, except so far as such laws and rules have been since repealed, altered, varied, modified or affected by any Act of the Imperial Parliament, still having the force of law in Ontario, or by any Act of the late Province of Upper Canada, or of the Province of Canada, or of the Province of Ontario, still having the force of law in Ontario. R.S.O. 1990, c. P.29, s. 1.
And sec. 8(1) of the Interpretation Act of Canada provides:
Rules of Construction
Property and Civil Rights
Marginal note:Duality of legal traditions and application of provincial law
8.1 Both the common law and the civil law are equally authoritative and recognized sources of the law of property and civil rights in Canada and, unless otherwise provided by law, if in interpreting an enactment it is necessary to refer to a province’s rules, principles or concepts forming part of the law of property and civil rights, reference must be made to the rules, principles and concepts in force in the province at the time the enactment is being applied.
2001, c. 4, s. 8.
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