Administrative tribunal’s interpretation of own statute reviewable on standard of reasonableness

Federal appeal | Administrative Law

BOARDS AND TRIBUNALS

Administrative tribunal’s interpretation of own statute reviewable on standard of reasonableness

Section 16(1) of Canada Transportation Act (CTA) specified that, subject to Canadian Transportation Agency rules, two members constituted quorum. In 2013, respondent Canadian Transportation Agency amended own General Rules by adding Rule 2.1 stating that one member constituted quorum in all proceedings before agency. Appellant granted leave to appeal on question of law, whether respondent permitted to amend quorum rule without approval of Governor in Council (GIC). Appellant submitted that Rules were regulations within meaning of s. 36(1) of Act and, as such, could only be made with approval of GIC. Appellant also submitted that since Rules originally made with approval of GIC, they only be amended with approval of GIC. Respondent claimed authority to enact rule according to rule-making power in s. 17 of Act. Appeal dismissed. Administrative tribunal’s interpretation of own statute reviewable on standard of reasonableness. Under s. 17, respondent granted power to make rules respecting variety of matters, including number of members required to hear any matter or perform any function. Whether respondent required approval of GIC depended on interpretation of “regulation” in s. 36(1). While s. 2(1) of Interpretation Act (Can.), and s. 2(1) of Statutory Instruments Act (Can.), both provided that “regulation” included rule, definitions limited to only those statutes themselves. Contrary intention evidenced in CTA, which did not use words “regulation” or “rule” interchangeably. Act used “rule” only for internal procedural or non-adjudicative administrative matters, such as quorum. Interpreting s. 17 as granting power to make rules without approval of GIC reasonable on textual, contextual and purposive analysis.
Lukács v. Canadian Transportation Agency (Mar. 19, 2014, F.C.A., Eleanor R. Dawson J.A., Wyman W. Webb J.A., and Edmond P. Blanchard J.A. (ex officio), File No. A-279-13) 239 A.C.W.S. (3d) 2.

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