R. v. Multiform Manufacturing Co.,  2 S.C.R. 624
Multiform Manufacturing Co. Ltd., Creative
Design Homes Limited, Café Arrêt de Montréal,
106706 Canada Inc., 90430 Canada Inc. and
Multiform Kitchens International Appellants
Her Majesty The Queen, the Attorney General
of Canada, His Honour Judge Patrick Falardeau
in his capacity as justice of the peace for
the province of Quebec, J.H. Réal Poirier and
the Attorney General of Quebec Respondents
indexed as: r. v. multiform manufacturing co.
File No.: 21056.
1990: May 25; 1990: September 13.
Present: Lamer C.J.* and La Forest, L'Heureux‑Dubé, Sopinka, Gonthier, Cory and McLachlin JJ.
on appeal from the court of appeal for quebec
Criminal law ‑‑ Search and seizure ‑‑ Bankruptcy ‑‑ Bankruptcy Act providing for authorization of searches in limited circumstances related to bankruptcy ‑‑ Whether public authorities can also resort to s. 443 of Criminal Code to obtain a search and seizure warrant where Bankruptcy Act applies ‑‑ Bankruptcy Act, R.S.C. 1970, c. B‑3, s. 6 ‑‑ Criminal Code, R.S.C. 1970, c. C‑34, s. 443.
Respondent Poirier, an R.C.M.P. constable, applied for a warrant under s. 443 of the Criminal Code in order to have access to appellants' books, records and documents for purposes of an investigation into allegations of certain Bankruptcy Act violations. The warrant was issued and R.C.M.P. officers searched appellants' premises and seized various documents. Appellants applied to have the warrant quashed on the ground that the search should have been conducted pursuant to s. 6(2) of the Bankruptcy Act, not s. 443 of the Criminal Code. An amendment to s. 443(1) of the Code in 1985 added the words "or any other Act of Parliament" to paras. (a) and (b). The Superior Court concluded that the intent of the amendment was to render s. 443 applicable to all federal statutes, whether or not they included search and seizure provisions, and dismissed the application. The Court of Appeal affirmed the decision.
Held: The appeal should be dismissed.
The 1985 amendment to s. 443 of the Criminal Code makes the section applicable to all cases involving violations of federal statutes. On a plain reading, s. 443 applies to proceedings under any federal statute, regardless of whether or not it contains search and seizure provisions. Additionally, the section reveals that Parliament, when it wanted to restrict the application of s. 443, did so expressly (as in s. 443(1)(e)) through the use of the words "subject to any other Act of Parliament".
Statutes and Regulations Cited
Bankruptcy Act, R.S.C. 1970, c. B‑3, s. 6.
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, ss. 15, 24(1).
Criminal Code, R.S.C. 1970, c. C‑34, s. 443 [am. 1985, c. 19, s. 69].
Interpretation Act, R.S.C. 1970, c. I‑23, s. 27(2).
Côté, Pierre‑André. The Interpretation of Legislation in Canada. Translated by Katherine Lippel, John Philpot and Bill Schabas. Cowansville, Quebec: Yvon Blais Inc., 1984.
Driedger, Elmer A. Construction of Statutes, 2nd ed. Toronto: Butterworths, 1983.
Maxwell, Sir Peter B. Maxwell on the Interpretation of Statutes, 12th ed. By P. St. J. Langan. London: Sweet & Maxwell, 1969.
APPEAL from a judgment of the Quebec Court of Appeal,  R.L. 216, 22 Q.A.C. 168, 42 C.C.C. (3d) 174, affirming the judgment of the Superior Court,  R.J.Q. 879, 33 C.C.C. (3d) 521, dismissing appellants' application to have a search warrant quashed. Appeal dismissed.
Guy Du Pont and Basile Angelopoulous, for the appellants.
Pierre Loiselle, Q.C., for the respondents Her Majesty The Queen, the Attorney General of Canada and J.H. Réal Poirier.
Claude Provost, for the respondent the Attorney General of Quebec.
The judgment of the Court was delivered by
LAMER C.J. -- Section 6 of the Bankruptcy Act, R.S.C. 1970, c. B-3, provides for the authorization of searches in limited circumstances related to bankruptcy. This appeal raises the following issue: in situations where s. 6 of the Bankruptcy Act is applicable, can public authorities also resort to s. 443 of the Criminal Code, R.S.C. 1970, c. C-34 (now R.S.C., 1985, c. C-46, s. 487, as amended by R.S.C., 1985, c. 27 (1st Supp.), s. 68) to obtain a search and seizure warrant?
Pursuant to s. 6(1) of the Bankruptcy Act, the Superintendent of Bankruptcy asked the R.C.M.P. to investigate allegations of Bankruptcy Act violations in relation to the bankruptcy of Multiform Kitchens International Ltd. The appellants were all companies related to Multiform Kitchens International Ltd. Constable J.H. Réal Poirier applied for a warrant under s. 443 of the Criminal Code in order to have access to the appellants' books, records and documents, all of which were necessary to the investigation. Falardeau J.S.P.C. issued the warrant and the R.C.M.P. officers searched the appellants' premises and seized various accounting books, records and documents. The appellants applied to have the search warrant quashed stating that the search should have been conducted pursuant to s. 6(2) of the Bankruptcy Act and not s. 443 of the Criminal Code. The Quebec Superior Court dismissed the application. A subsequent appeal was dismissed by the Quebec Court of Appeal.
Relevant Statutory Provisions
Section 6 of the Bankruptcy Act provides
6. (1) Where, on information supplied by an official receiver, trustee or other person, it appears to the Superintendent that there are reasonable grounds for suspecting that a person has, in connection with a bankruptcy, committed an offence under this Act or any other Act of the Parliament of Canada, whether before or after the bankruptcy, the Superintendent may, if it appears to him that the matter might not otherwise be investigated, make or cause to be made such inquiries or investigations as he deems expedient with respect to the conduct, dealings and transactions of the bankrupt concerned, the causes of his bankruptcy and the disposition of his property.
(2) For the purposes of an investigation under subsection (1), the Superintendent or any person duly authorized by him in writing, with the approval of the court, which may be given upon an ex parte application, may, either alone or together with such peace officers as he calls on to assist him, enter and search, if necessary by force, any building, receptacle or place for books, records, papers or documents that may afford evidence as to an offence in connection with a bankruptcy and examine any such books, records, papers or documents.
. . .
(7) Where any book, record, paper or other document is examined or produced in accordance with this section, the person by whom it is examined or to whom it is produced or the Superintendent may make or cause to be made one or more copies thereof, and a document purporting to be certified by the Superintendent or a person thereunto authorized by him to be a copy made pursuant to this section is admissible in evidence and has the same probative force as the original document would have if it were proven in the ordinary way.
Section 443 of the Criminal Code, when the warrant hereunder was sought, provided:
443. (1) A justice who is satisfied by information upon oath in Form 1, that there is reasonable ground to believe that there is in a building, receptacle or place
(a) anything on or in respect of which any offence against this Act or any other Act of Parliament has been or is suspected to have been committed,
(b) anything that there is reasonable ground to believe will afford evidence with respect to the commission of an offence against this Act or any other Act of Parliament, or
(c) anything that there is reasonable ground to believe is intended to be used for the purpose of committing any offence against the person for which a person may be arrested without warrant,
may at any time issue a warrant under his hand authorizing a person named therein or a peace officer
(d) to search the building, receptacle or place for any such thing and to seize it, and
(e) subject to any other Act of Parliament, to, as soon as practicable, bring the thing seized before, or make a report in respect thereof to, the justice or some other justice for the same territorial division in accordance with section 445.1.
Finally, s. 27(2) of the Interpretation Act, R.S.C. 1970, c. I-23, read as follows:
(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 the Criminal Code relating to summary conviction offences apply to all other offences created by an enactment, except to the extent that the enactment otherwise provides.
The Judgments of the Courts Below
Superior Court:  R.J.Q. 879, 33 C.C.C. (3d) 521
Section 443(1) was amended in 1985 to add the words "or any other Act of Parliament" to paras. (a) and (b). Boilard J. noted that, prior to this amendment, s. 443 of the Code could be used to obtain a warrant in relation to federal statutes which did not have search and seizure provisions. He concluded that the intent of the 1985 amendment was to render s. 443 applicable to all federal statutes, whether or not they included search and seizure provisions. Boilard J. was also of the opinion that the availability of two procedures for authorizing searches (s. 443 of the Code and s. 6 of the Bankruptcy Act) would not offend s. 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Court of Appeal:  R.L. 216, 22 Q.A.C. 168, 42 C.C.C. (3d) 174
Bernier J.A., writing for the Court, held that until the 1985 amendment, s. 443 of the Code could only be used where the federal statute in question contained no search and seizure provisions. In his opinion, the purpose of the 1985 amendment which added the words "or any other Act of Parliament" was to widen the application of s. 443 of the Code so as to make it available as an investigatory tool for violations of any federal statute. He also dismissed the argument to the effect s. 27 of the Interpretation Act removes search and seizure powers of the Superintendent in relation to violations of the Bankruptcy Act from the potential application of s. 443 of the Code. It could not be said that, to use the terms of s. 27(2) of the Interpretation Act, s. 6 of the Bankruptcy Act "otherwise provides". Like the Superior Court, the Court of Appeal dismissed any argument relating to an alleged violation of the Charter.
Two preliminary remarks are in order to circumscribe the limits of the question this Court is called upon to answer. First, neither the constitutionality of s. 6 of the Bankruptcy Act nor that of s. 443 of the Code and, in particular, the applicability of the latter to all offences irrespective of whether they are created by an Act other than the Criminal Code, was questioned by the parties before this Court. Second, although the appellants seek remedy under s. 24(1) of the Charter, no argument was presented to this Court in relation to any violation of the Charter. Indeed, there is no suggestion that the officers, through the exercise of the powers granted them under s. 443 of the Code, violated the appellants' rights under the Charter. The only question this Court must answer is whether s. 6 of the Bankruptcy Act and s. 443 of the Criminal Code can both be resorted to in the course of an investigation instigated by the Superintendent of Bankruptcy.
The parties and the courts below made an exhaustive review of the case law which developed prior to the amendment of s. 443 of the Code in 1985. Where a federal statute included search and seizure powers, the cases were clearly to the effect that s. 443 of the Code could not be resorted to. Some legal controversy existed however where statutes were silent as to search and seizure powers. The majority of the cases suggested that s. 443 of the Code could be used in such cases by resorting to the application of s. 27(2) of the Interpretation Act. Since section 27(2) provided that the Code was applicable to any offence under a federal statute, s. 443 was, where the statute was silent as regards searches, available to public authorities in need of a search warrant. Indeed, in cases where the statute was silent as to search and seizure powers, it could not be said that s. 27(2) did not apply because there was not in the statute an "enactment [that] otherwise provides".
What then is the effect of the amendment? In my view, the amendment to s. 443 of the Code makes it applicable to all cases involving violations of federal statutes.
When the courts are called upon to interpret a statute, their task is to discover the intention of Parliament. When the words used in a statute are clear and unambiguous, no further step is needed to identify the intention of Parliament. There is no need for further construction when Parliament has clearly expressed its intention in the words it has used in the statute. As Maxwell stated in The Interpretation of Statutes (12th ed. 1969), at pp. 28-29:
If there is nothing to modify, alter or qualify the language which the statute contains, it must be construed in the ordinary and natural meaning of the words and sentences. "The safer and more correct course of dealing with a question of construction is to take the words themselves and arrive if possible at their meaning without, in the first instance, reference to cases."
The rule of construction is "to intend the Legislature to have meant what they have actually expressed." The object of all interpretation is to discover the intention of Parliament, "but the intention of Parliament must be deduced from the language used," for "it is well accepted that the beliefs and assumptions of those who frame Acts of Parliament cannot make the law."
Where the language is plain and admits of but one meaning, the task of interpretation can hardly be said to arise.
Or, as Professor P. A. Côté succinctly puts it in The Interpretation of Legislation in Canada (1984), at p. 2:
It is said that when an Act is clear there is no need to interpret it: a simple reading suffices.
To the same effect see Driedger, Construction of Statutes (2nd ed. 1983), at p. 28.
Turning back to s. 443 as it stood after its amendment, I am in complete agreement with Boilard J. when he says (at p. 529, C.C.C.):
[Translation] This amendment was not adopted for the sole purpose of codifying the common law rule which is distilled from the list of decisions set out above. Parliament clearly wanted to change the scope of s. 443 and to extend it to all federal legislation.
In 1985, the words "or any other Act of Parliament" were added to paras. (a) and (b) of s. 443(1) of the Code. On a plain reading, s. 443 would thus apply to proceedings under any federal statute, regardless of whether or not the statute in question also contains search and seizure provisions. The use of the word "any" unambiguously shows that every single Act of Parliament could fall within the ambit of these paragraphs.
Further support for the general application of paras. (a) and (b), assuming any is needed, is found by reference to para. (e) of s. 443(1), which reveals that when Parliament wanted to restrict the application of s. 443 it expressly did so. In para. (e) of s. 443(1), Parliament specifically provided for a restriction to the general application of this paragraph by making it "subject to any other Act of Parliament". As the expressio unius est exclusio alterius maxim suggests, the presence of such a restriction in one paragraph reinforces the position that Parliament did not intend to restrict the scope of paras. (a) and (b). I therefore conclude that s. 443(1)(a) and (b) (now s. 487(1)(a) and (b)) is applicable to any federal statute whether or not that statute includes any reference to search and seizure powers.
I would accordingly dismiss the appeal with costs.
Appeal dismissed with costs.
Solicitors for the appellants: Phillips & Vineberg, Montréal.
Solicitor for the respondents Her Majesty The Queen, the Attorney General of Canada and J.H. Réal Poirier: John C. Tait, Ottawa.
Solicitor for the respondent the Attorney General of Quebec: Claude Provost, Montréal.