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Interpretation Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. I-21)

Full Document:  

Act current to 2022-08-08 and last amended on 2021-08-03. Previous Versions

Rules of Construction (continued)

Majority and Quorum

Marginal note:Majorities

  •  (1) Where an enactment requires or authorizes more than two persons to do an act or thing, a majority of them may do it.

  • Marginal note:Quorum of board, court, commission, etc.

    (2) Where an enactment establishes a board, court, commission or other body consisting of three or more members, in this section called an “association”,

    • (a) at a meeting of the association, a number of members of the association equal to,

      • (i) if the number of members provided for by the enactment is a fixed number, at least one-half of the number of members, and

      • (ii) if the number of members provided for by the enactment is not a fixed number but is within a range having a maximum or minimum, at least one-half of the number of members in office if that number is within the range,

      constitutes a quorum;

    • (b) an act or thing done by a majority of the members of the association present at a meeting, if the members present constitute a quorum, is deemed to have been done by the association; and

    • (c) a vacancy in the membership of the association does not invalidate the constitution of the association or impair the right of the members in office to act, if the number of members in office is not less than a quorum.

  • R.S., c. I-23, s. 21

Appointment, Retirement and Powers of Officers

Marginal note:Public officers hold office during pleasure

  •  (1) Every public officer appointed by or under the authority of an enactment or otherwise is deemed to have been appointed to hold office during pleasure only, unless it is otherwise expressed in the enactment, commission or instrument of appointment.

  • Marginal note:Effective day of appointments

    (2) Where an appointment is made by instrument under the Great Seal, the instrument may purport to have been issued on or after the day its issue was authorized, and the day on which it so purports to have been issued is deemed to be the day on which the appointment takes effect.

  • Marginal note:Appointment or engagement otherwise than under Great Seal

    (3) Where there is authority in an enactment to appoint a person to a position or to engage the services of a person, otherwise than by instrument under the Great Seal, the instrument of appointment or engagement may be expressed to be effective on or after the day on which that person commenced the performance of the duties of the position or commenced the performance of the services, and the day on which it is so expressed to be effective, unless that day is more than sixty days before the day on which the instrument is issued, is deemed to be the day on which the appointment or engagement takes effect.

  • Marginal note:Remuneration

    (4) Where a person is appointed to an office, the appointing authority may fix, vary or terminate that person’s remuneration.

  • Marginal note:Commencement of appointments or retirements

    (5) Where a person is appointed to an office effective on a specified day, or where the appointment of a person is terminated effective on a specified day, the appointment or termination is deemed to have been effected immediately on the expiration of the previous day.

  • R.S., c. I-23, s. 22

Marginal note:Implied powers respecting public officers

  •  (1) Words authorizing the appointment of a public officer to hold office during pleasure include, in the discretion of the authority in whom the power of appointment is vested, the power to

    • (a) terminate the appointment or remove or suspend the public officer;

    • (b) re-appoint or reinstate the public officer; and

    • (c) appoint another person in the stead of, or to act in the stead of, the public officer.

  • Marginal note:Power to act for ministers

    (2) Words directing or empowering a minister of the Crown to do an act or thing, regardless of whether the act or thing is administrative, legislative or judicial, or otherwise applying to that minister as the holder of the office, include

    • (a) a minister acting for that minister or, if the office is vacant, a minister designated to act in the office by or under the authority of an order in council;

    • (b) the successors of that minister in the office;

    • (c) his or their deputy; and

    • (d) notwithstanding paragraph (c), a person appointed to serve, in the department or ministry of state over which the minister presides, in a capacity appropriate to the doing of the act or thing, or to the words so applying.

  • Marginal note:Restriction as to public servants

    (3) Nothing in paragraph (2)(c) or (d) shall be construed as authorizing the exercise of any authority conferred on a minister to make a regulation as defined in the Statutory Instruments Act.

  • Marginal note:Successors to and deputy of public officer

    (4) Words directing or empowering any public officer, other than a minister of the Crown, to do any act or thing, or otherwise applying to the public officer by his name of office, include his successors in the office and his or their deputy.

  • Marginal note:Powers of holder of public office

    (5) Where a power is conferred or a duty imposed on the holder of an office, the power may be exercised and the duty shall be performed by the person for the time being charged with the execution of the powers and duties of the office.

  • R.S., 1985, c. I-21, s. 24
  • 1992, c. 1, s. 89

Evidence

Marginal note:Documentary evidence

  •  (1) Where an enactment provides that a document is evidence of a fact without anything in the context to indicate that the document is conclusive evidence, then, in any judicial proceedings, the document is admissible in evidence and the fact is deemed to be established in the absence of any evidence to the contrary.

  • Marginal note:Queen’s Printer

    (2) Every copy of an enactment having printed thereon what purports to be the name or title of the Queen’s Printer and Controller of Stationery or the Queen’s Printer is deemed to be a copy purporting to be printed by the Queen’s Printer for Canada.

  • R.S., c. I-23, s. 24

Computation of Time

Marginal note:Time limits and holidays

 Where the time limited for the doing of a thing expires or falls on a holiday, the thing may be done on the day next following that is not a holiday.

  • R.S., 1985, c. I-21, s. 26
  • 1999, c. 31, s. 147(F)

Marginal note:Clear days

  •  (1) Where there is a reference to a number of clear days or “at least” a number of days between two events, in calculating that number of days the days on which the events happen are excluded.

  • Marginal note:Not clear days

    (2) Where there is a reference to a number of days, not expressed to be clear days, between two events, in calculating that number of days the day on which the first event happens is excluded and the day on which the second event happens is included.

  • Marginal note:Beginning and ending of prescribed periods

    (3) Where a time is expressed to begin or end at, on or with a specified day, or to continue to or until a specified day, the time includes that day.

  • Marginal note:After specified day

    (4) Where a time is expressed to begin after or to be from a specified day, the time does not include that day.

  • Marginal note:Within a time

    (5) Where anything is to be done within a time after, from, of or before a specified day, the time does not include that day.

  • R.S., c. I-23, s. 25

Marginal note:Calculation of a period of months after or before a specified day

 Where there is a reference to a period of time consisting of a number of months after or before a specified day, the period is calculated by

  • (a) counting forward or backward from the specified day the number of months, without including the month in which that day falls;

  • (b) excluding the specified day; and

  • (c) including in the last month counted under paragraph (a) the day that has the same calendar number as the specified day or, if that month has no day with that number, the last day of that month.

  • R.S., c. I-23, s. 25

Marginal note:Time of the day

 Where there is a reference to time expressed as a specified time of the day, the time is taken to mean standard time.

  • R.S., c. I-23, s. 25

Marginal note:Time when specified age attained

 A person is deemed not to have attained a specified number of years of age until the commencement of the anniversary, of the same number, of the day of that person’s birth.

  • R.S., c. I-23, s. 25

Miscellaneous Rules

Marginal note:Reference to provincial court judge, etc.

  •  (1) Where anything is required or authorized to be done by or before a judge, provincial court judge, justice of the peace or any functionary or officer, it shall be done by or before one whose jurisdiction or powers extend to the place where the thing is to be done.

  • Marginal note:Ancillary powers

    (2) Where power is given to a person, officer or functionary to do or enforce the doing of any act or thing, all such powers as are necessary to enable the person, officer or functionary to do or enforce the doing of the act or thing are deemed to be also given.

  • Marginal note:Powers to be exercised as required

    (3) Where a power is conferred or a duty imposed, the power may be exercised and the duty shall be performed from time to time as occasion requires.

  • Marginal note:Power to repeal

    (4) Where a power is conferred to make regulations, the power shall be construed as including a power, exercisable in the same manner and subject to the same consent and conditions, if any, to repeal, amend or vary the regulations and make others.

  • R.S., 1985, c. I-21, s. 31
  • R.S., 1985, c. 27 (1st Supp.), s. 203

Marginal note:Forms

 Where a form is prescribed, deviations from that form, not affecting the substance or calculated to mislead, do not invalidate the form used.

  • R.S., c. I-23, s. 26

Marginal note:Gender

  •  (1) Words importing female persons include male persons and corporations and words importing male persons include female persons and corporations.

  • Marginal note:Number

    (2) Words in the singular include the plural, and words in the plural include the singular.

  • Marginal note:Parts of speech and grammatical forms

    (3) Where a word is defined, other parts of speech and grammatical forms of the same word have corresponding meanings.

  • R.S., 1985, c. I-21, s. 33
  • 1992, c. 1, s. 90

Offences

Marginal note:Indictable and summary conviction offences

  •  (1) Where an enactment creates an offence,

    • (a) the offence is deemed to be an indictable offence if the enactment provides that the offender may be prosecuted for the offence by indictment;

    • (b) the offence is deemed to be one for which the offender is punishable on summary conviction if there is nothing in the context to indicate that the offence is an indictable offence; and

    • (c) if the offence is one for which the offender may be prosecuted by indictment or for which the offender is punishable on summary conviction, no person shall be considered to have been convicted of an indictable offence by reason only of having been convicted of the offence on summary conviction.

  • Marginal note:Criminal Code to apply

    (2) All the provisions of the Criminal Code relating to indictable offences apply to indictable offences created by an enactment, and all the provisions of that Code relating to summary conviction offences apply to all other offences created by an enactment, except to the extent that the enactment otherwise provides.

  • Marginal note:Documents similarly construed

    (3) In a commission, proclamation, warrant or other document relating to criminal law or procedure in criminal matters,

    • (a) a reference to an offence for which the offender may be prosecuted by indictment shall be construed as a reference to an indictable offence; and

    • (b) a reference to any other offence shall be construed as a reference to an offence for which the offender is punishable on summary conviction.

  • R.S., c. I-23, s. 27

Powers to Enter Dwelling-houses to Carry out Arrests

Marginal note:Authorization to enter dwelling-house

 Any person who may issue a warrant to arrest or apprehend a person under any Act of Parliament, other than the Criminal Code, has the same powers, subject to the same terms and conditions, as a judge or justice has under the Criminal Code

  • (a) to authorize the entry into a dwelling-house described in the warrant for the purpose of arresting or apprehending the person, if the person issuing the warrant is satisfied by information on oath that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the person is or will be present in the dwelling-house; and

  • (b) to authorize the entry into the dwelling-house without prior announcement if the requirement of subsection 529.4(1) of the Criminal Code is met.

  • 1997, c. 39, s. 4

Definitions

Marginal note:General definitions

  •  (1) In every enactment,

    Act

    Act, in respect of an Act of a legislature, includes a law of the Legislature of Yukon, of the Northwest Territories or for Nunavut; (loi provinciale)

    bank

    bank means a bank listed in Schedule I or II to the Bank Act; (banque)

    British Commonwealth

    British Commonwealth or British Commonwealth of Nations has the same meaning as Commonwealth; (Commonwealth, Commonwealth britannique, Commonwealth des nations ou Commonwealth des nations britanniques)

    broadcasting

    broadcasting means any radiocommunication in which the transmissions are intended for direct reception by the general public; (radiodiffusion)

    Canada

    Canada, for greater certainty, includes the internal waters of Canada and the territorial sea of Canada; (Canada)

    Canadian waters

    Canadian waters includes the territorial sea of Canada and the internal waters of Canada; (eaux canadiennes)

    Clerk of the Privy Council

    Clerk of the Privy Council or Clerk of the Queen’s Privy Council means the Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet; (greffier du Conseil privé ou greffier du Conseil privé de la Reine)

    commencement

    commencement, when used with reference to an enactment, means the time at which the enactment comes into force; (Version anglaise seulement)

    Commonwealth

    Commonwealth or Commonwealth of Nations means the association of countries named in the schedule; (Commonwealth, Commonwealth britannique, Commonwealth des nations ou Commonwealth des nations britanniques)

    Commonwealth and Dependent Territories

    Commonwealth and Dependent Territories means the several Commonwealth countries and their colonies, possessions, dependencies, protectorates, protected states, condominiums and trust territories; (Commonwealth et dépendances)

    contiguous zone

    contiguous zone,

    • (a) in relation to Canada, means the contiguous zone of Canada as determined under the Oceans Act, and

    • (b) in relation to any other state, means the contiguous zone of the other state as determined in accordance with international law and the domestic laws of that other state; (zone contiguë)

    continental shelf

    continental shelf,

    • (a) in relation to Canada, means the continental shelf of Canada as determined under the Oceans Act, and

    • (b) in relation to any other state, means the continental shelf of the other state as determined in accordance with international law and the domestic laws of that other state; (plateau continental)

    contravene

    contravene includes fail to comply with; (contravention)

    corporation

    corporation does not include a partnership that is considered to be a separate legal entity under provincial law; (personne morale)

    county

    county includes two or more counties united for purposes to which the enactment relates; (comté)

    county court

    county court[Repealed, 1990, c. 17, s. 26]

    diplomatic or consular officer

    diplomatic or consular officer includes an ambassador, envoy, minister, chargé d’affaires, counsellor, secretary, attaché, consul-general, consul, vice-consul, pro-consul, consular agent, acting consul-general, acting consul, acting vice-consul, acting consular agent, high commissioner, permanent delegate, adviser, acting high commissioner, and acting permanent delegate; (agent diplomatique ou consulaire)

    exclusive economic zone

    exclusive economic zone,

    • (a) in relation to Canada, means the exclusive economic zone of Canada as determined under the Oceans Act and includes the seabed and subsoil below that zone, and

    • (b) in relation to any other state, means the exclusive economic zone of the other state as determined in accordance with international law and the domestic laws of that other state; (zone économique exclusive)

    Federal Court

    Federal Court[Repealed, 2002, c. 8, s. 151]

    Federal Court — Appeal Division

    Federal Court — Appeal Division or Federal Court of Appeal[Repealed, 2002, c. 8, s. 151]

    Federal Court — Trial Division

    Federal Court — Trial Division[Repealed, 2002, c. 8, s. 151]

    Governor

    Governor, Governor General or Governor of Canada means the Governor General of Canada or other chief executive officer or administrator carrying on the Government of Canada on behalf and in the name of the Sovereign, by whatever title that officer is designated; (gouverneur, gouverneur du Canada ou gouverneur général)

    Governor General in Council

    Governor General in Council or Governor in Council means the Governor General of Canada acting by and with the advice of, or by and with the advice and consent of, or in conjunction with the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada; (gouverneur en conseil ou gouverneur général en conseil)

    Great Seal

    Great Seal means the Great Seal of Canada; (grand sceau)

    Her Majesty

    Her Majesty, His Majesty, the Queen, the King or the Crown means the Sovereign of the United Kingdom, Canada and Her or His other Realms and Territories, and Head of the Commonwealth; (Sa Majesté, la Reine, le Roi ou la Couronne)

    Her Majesty’s Realms and Territories

    Her Majesty’s Realms and Territories or His Majesty’s Realms and Territories means all realms and territories under the sovereignty of Her or His Majesty; (royaumes et territoires de Sa Majesté)

    herein

    herein used in any section shall be understood to relate to the whole enactment, and not to that section only; (Version anglaise seulement)

    holiday

    holiday means any of the following days, namely, Sunday; New Year’s Day; Good Friday; Easter Monday; Christmas Day; the birthday or the day fixed by proclamation for the celebration of the birthday of the reigning Sovereign; Victoria Day; Canada Day; the first Monday in September, designated Labour Day; National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, which is observed on September 30; Remembrance Day; any day appointed by proclamation to be observed as a day of general prayer or mourning or day of public rejoicing or thanksgiving; and any of the following additional days, namely,

    • (a) in any province, any day appointed by proclamation of the lieutenant governor of the province to be observed as a public holiday or as a day of general prayer or mourning or day of public rejoicing or thanksgiving within the province, and any day that is a non-juridical day by virtue of an Act of the legislature of the province, and

    • (b) in any city, town, municipality or other organized district, any day appointed to be observed as a civic holiday by resolution of the council or other authority charged with the administration of the civic or municipal affairs of the city, town, municipality or district; (jour férié)

    internal waters

    internal waters,

    • (a) in relation to Canada, means the internal waters of Canada as determined under the Oceans Act and includes the airspace above and the bed and subsoil below those waters, and

    • (b) in relation to any other state, means the waters on the landward side of the baselines of the territorial sea of the other state; (eaux intérieures)

    legislative assembly

    legislative assembly, legislative council or legislature[Repealed, 2014, c. 2, s. 14]

    legislative assembly

    legislative assembly or legislature includes the Lieutenant Governor in Council and the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories, as constituted before September 1, 1905, and the Legislature of Yukon, of the Northwest Territories or for Nunavut; (législature ou assemblée législative)

    lieutenant governor

    lieutenant governor means the lieutenant governor or other chief executive officer or administrator carrying on the government of the province indicated by the enactment, by whatever title that officer is designated, and in Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut means the Commissioner; (lieutenant-gouverneur)

    lieutenant governor in council

    lieutenant governor in council means

    • (a) the lieutenant governor of the province indicated by the enactment acting by and with the advice of, by and with the advice and consent of, or in conjunction with, the executive council,

    • (b) in Yukon, the Commissioner of Yukon acting with the consent of the Executive Council of Yukon,

    • (c) in the Northwest Territories, the Commissioner of the Northwest Territories acting with the consent of the Executive Council of the Northwest Territories, and

    • (d) in Nunavut, the Commissioner; (lieutenant-gouverneur en conseil)

    local time

    local time, in relation to any place, means the time observed in that place for the regulation of business hours; (heure locale)

    military

    military shall be construed as relating to all or any part of the Canadian Forces; (militaire)

    month

    month means a calendar month; (mois)

    oath

    oath includes a solemn affirmation or declaration when the context applies to any person by whom and to any case in which a solemn affirmation or declaration may be made instead of an oath, and in the same cases the expression sworn includes the expression “affirmed” or “declared”; (serment)

    Parliament

    Parliament means the Parliament of Canada; (Parlement)

    person

    person, or any word or expression descriptive of a person, includes a corporation; (personne)

    proclamation

    proclamation means a proclamation under the Great Seal; (proclamation)

    province

    province means a province of Canada, and includes Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut; (province)

    radio

    radio or radiocommunication means any transmission, emission or reception of signs, signals, writing, images, sounds or intelligence of any nature by means of electromagnetic waves of frequencies lower than 3 000 GHz propagated in space without artificial guide; (radiocommunication ou radio)

    regular force

    regular force means the component of the Canadian Forces that is referred to in the National Defence Act as the regular force; (force régulière)

    reserve force

    reserve force means the component of the Canadian Forces that is referred to in the National Defence Act as the reserve force; (force de réserve)

    security

    security means sufficient security, and sureties means sufficient sureties, and when those words are used one person is sufficient therefor, unless otherwise expressly required; (caution ou cautionnement)

    standard time

    standard time, except as otherwise provided by any proclamation of the Governor in Council that may be issued for the purposes of this definition in relation to any province or territory or any part thereof, means

    • (a) in relation to the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, Newfoundland standard time, being three hours and thirty minutes behind Greenwich time,

    • (b) in relation to the Provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, that part of the Province of Quebec lying east of the sixty-third meridian of west longitude, and that part of Nunavut lying east of the sixty-eighth meridian of west longitude, Atlantic standard time, being four hours behind Greenwich time,

    • (c) in relation to that part of the Province of Quebec lying west of the sixty-third meridian of west longitude, that part of the Province of Ontario lying between the sixty-eighth and the ninetieth meridians of west longitude, Southampton Island and the islands adjacent to Southampton Island, and that part of Nunavut lying between the sixty-eighth and the eighty-fifth meridians of west longitude, eastern standard time, being five hours behind Greenwich time,

    • (d) in relation to that part of the Province of Ontario lying west of the ninetieth meridian of west longitude, the Province of Manitoba, and that part of Nunavut, except Southampton Island and the islands adjacent to Southampton Island, lying between the eighty-fifth and the one hundred and second meridians of west longitude, central standard time, being six hours behind Greenwich time,

    • (e) in relation to the Provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta, the Northwest Territories and that part of Nunavut lying west of the one hundred and second meridian of west longitude, mountain standard time, being seven hours behind Greenwich time,

    • (f) in relation to the Province of British Columbia, Pacific standard time, being eight hours behind Greenwich time, and

    • (g) in relation to Yukon, Yukon standard time, being nine hours behind Greenwich time; (heure normale)

    statutory declaration

    statutory declaration means a solemn declaration made pursuant to section 41 of the Canada Evidence Act; (déclaration solennelle)

    superior court

    superior court means

    • (a) in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Supreme Court,

    • (a.1) in the Province of Ontario, the Court of Appeal for Ontario and the Superior Court of Justice,

    • (b) in the Province of Quebec, the Court of Appeal and the Superior Court in and for the Province,

    • (c) in the Province of New Brunswick, Manitoba, Saskatchewan or Alberta, the Court of Appeal for the Province and the Court of Queen’s Bench for the Province,

    • (d) in the Provinces of Nova Scotia, British Columbia and Prince Edward Island, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of the Province, and

    • (e) the Supreme Court of Yukon, the Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories and the Nunavut Court of Justice,

    and includes the Supreme Court of Canada, the Federal Court of Appeal, the Federal Court and the Tax Court of Canada; (juridiction supérieure ou cour supérieure)

    telecommunications

    telecommunications means the emission, transmission or reception of signs, signals, writing, images, sounds or intelligence of any nature by any wire, cable, radio, optical or other electromagnetic system, or by any similar technical system; (télécommunication)

    territorial sea

    territorial sea,

    • (a) in relation to Canada, means the territorial sea of Canada as determined under the Oceans Act and includes the airspace above and the seabed and subsoil below that sea, and

    • (b) in relation to any other state, means the territorial sea of the other state as determined in accordance with international law and the domestic laws of that other state; (mer territoriale)

    territory

    territory means Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut; (territoires)

    two justices

    two justices means two or more justices of the peace, assembled or acting together; (deux juges de paix)

    United Kingdom

    United Kingdom means the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland; (Royaume-Uni)

    United States

    United States means the United States of America; (États-Unis)

    writing

    writing, or any term of like import, includes words printed, typewritten, painted, engraved, lithographed, photographed or represented or reproduced by any mode of representing or reproducing words in visible form. (écrit)

  • Marginal note:Governor in Council may amend schedule

    (2) The Governor in Council may, by order, amend the schedule by adding thereto the name of any country recognized by the order to be a member of the Commonwealth or deleting therefrom the name of any country recognized by the order to be no longer a member of the Commonwealth.

  • R.S., 1985, c. I-21, s. 35
  • R.S., 1985, c. 11 (1st Supp.), s. 2, c. 27 (2nd Supp.), s. 10
  • 1990, c. 17, s. 26
  • 1992, c. 1, s. 91, c. 47, s. 79, c. 51, s. 56
  • 1993, c. 28, s. 78, c. 38, s. 87
  • 1995, c. 39, s. 174
  • 1996, c. 31, s. 87
  • 1998, c. 15, s. 28, c. 30, ss. 13(F), 15(E)
  • 1999, c. 3, s. 71, c. 28, s. 168
  • 2002, c. 7, s. 188, c. 8, s. 151
  • 2014, c. 2, s. 14
  • 2015, c. 3, s. 124
  • 2021, c. 11, s. 3
 
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