Supreme Court Judgments

Decision Information

Decision Content

Alberta Government Telephones v. Canada (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission), [1989] 2 S.C.R. 225

 

Alberta Government Telephones                                                                                    Appellant

 

and

 

Canadian Radio‑television and

Telecommunications Commission

and CNCP Telecommunications                                                                                      Respondents

 

and

 

The Attorney General of Canada,

the Attorney General of Quebec,

the Attorney General of Nova Scotia,

the Attorney General for New Brunswick,

the Attorney General of Manitoba,

the Attorney General of British Columbia,

the Attorney General of Prince Edward Island,

the Attorney General for Saskatchewan,

the Attorney General for Alberta and

the Attorney General of Newfoundland                                                                          Interveners

 

indexed as:  alberta government telephones v. (canada) canadian radio‑television and telecommunications commission

 

File No.:  19731.

 

1987:  November 12, 13; 1989:  August 14.

 

Present:  Dickson C.J. and Beetz*, Estey*, McIntyre, Lamer, Wilson, Le Dain*, La Forest and L'Heureux‑Dubé JJ.

 

on appeal from the federal court of appeal

 

    Constitutional law -- Division of powers -- Interprovincial work or undertaking -- Provincial telecommunications system -- Physical equipment and subscribers located within province -- Member of unincorporated group providing national and international service -- Agreements subject to federal regulation -- Whether or not work or undertaking within federal jurisdiction -- If so, whether or not agent of provincial Crown bound by federal regulatory provisions -- Constitution Act, 1867, ss. 91(29) , 92(10) (a) -- Alberta Government Telephones Act, R.S.A. 1980, c. A‑23, ss. 1(c), (d), 4, 42(1) ‑‑ Public Utilities Board Act, R.S.A. 1980, c. P‑37, ss. 1(j), 70(1)(c) -- Railway Act, R.S.C. 1970, c. R‑2, ss. 5, 320(1), (11), (12).

 

    Crown -- Immunity -- Agent of provincial Crown operating provincial telecommunications system -- If system otherwise subject to federal regulation, whether or not provincial Crown bound by federal regulatory provisions ‑‑ Interpretation Act, R.S.C. 1970, c. I‑23, ss. 16, 28.

 

    Alberta Government Telephones (AGT) was created by statute by the province of Alberta to provide telephone and telecommunications services within the province.  Its activities were subject to regulation by a provincial commission.  AGT's physical equipment connected with the cable and microwave equipment of other companies at the Alberta border.  AGT was also a member of Telecom Canada, an unincorporated group composed of telecommunications companies providing a network for telecommunications services throughout Canada.  The agreements to which AGT was a party were subject to federal regulation by the Canadian Radio‑television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) but the applications for approval of these agreements had been made by Telecom Canada and never by AGT.  CNCP was not a member of Telecom Canada and was not a party to the agreements to which AGT was a party.

 

    On September 17, 1982, CNCP brought an application to the CRTC seeking various orders under the Railway Act requiring AGT to provide facilities for the interchange of telecommunications traffic between the system operated by CNCP and the system operated by AGT.  AGT, however, sought and was granted a writ of prohibition in the Federal Court, Trial Division on the ground that, although AGT was a federal undertaking within s. 92(10) (a), it was entitled to assert Crown immunity as an agent of the provincial Crown.  The Federal Court of Appeal agreed that AGT was a federal undertaking, but held that AGt had exceeded its statutory mandate and was therefore not entitled to assert Crown immunity.  The order of prohibition was set aside.

 

    The constitutional questions before this Court queried (1) if AGT was a work or undertaking within federal legislative authority by virtue of s. 92(10) (a) or otherwise of the Constitution Act, 1867 , and (2) if so, was AGT bound by the relevant provisions of the Railway Act.

 

    Held (Wilson J. dissenting):  The appeal should be allowed.  The first constitutional question should be answered in the affirmative, the second in the negative.

 

    Per Dickson C.J. and McIntyre, Lamer, La Forest and L'Heureux‑Dubé JJ.:  AGT is an interprovincial undertaking within the meaning of s. 92(10) (a) of the Constitution Act, 1867  and accordingly lies exclusively within federal jurisdiction.  However, as a provincial Crown agent, AGT is entitled to claim Crown immunity with the effect that AGT does not fall within the regulatory authority of the CRTC pursuant to the terms of ss. 5 and 320 of the Railway Act.  Had the Railway Act been expressly made to bind the Crown, however, AGT would have been be subject to its provisions as a constitutional matter.

 

    The question of whether an undertaking, service or business is a federal one depends on the nature of its operation, and in determining that, the normal or habitual activities of the business as "a going concern" must be considered without regard for exceptional or casual factors.  A single comprehensive test for all cases cannot be formulated in the abstract; the court must be guided by the particular facts in each situation.

 

    The location of the physical apparatus in one province and the fact that all the recipients of a service are within a single province do not preclude an undertaking's being interprovincial in scope.  The primary concern is not the physical structures or their geographical location, but the service provided by the undertaking through the use of its physical equipment.

 

    AGT's involvement in the transmission and reception of electronic signals at the borders of Alberta was sufficient to mark AGT as an interprovincial, as opposed to a local, undertaking.  While the mere interconnection of physical facilities in one province with those in a neighbouring province may not of itself be sufficient to warrant an undertaking's being characterized as interprovincial, much more than mere physical interconnection of AGT's system at provincial borders is involved here.  AGT's various bilateral and multilateral commercial arrangements enable it to play a crucial role in the national telecommunications system and so provide to its local subscribers services of an interprovincial and international nature.

 

    A constitutional issue is to be determined by the reality of the situation, and not the choice of a particular corporate form.  AGT's role and relationship with Telecom Canada is therefore relevant to AGT's own constitutional character.  AGT is the mechanism through which the residents of Alberta send and receive interprovincial and international telecommunications services.  The services are provided through both corporate and physical arrangements which are marked by a high degree of cooperation.  Telecom Canada is one essential vehicle employed by AGT to interprovincialize and internationalize its services.  No label need be attached to the legal relationship that exists among the members of Telecom Canada.  It is a form of a joint venture and is a necessary feature of AGT's overall undertaking.  AGT could not separate itself from Telecom Canada without significantly altering the fundamental nature of AGT's enterprise.

 

    The fact that the members of Telecom Canada own their respective "works" is not significant.  The separate ownership of works does not, in this case, take away from the degree of integration which exists between the member system and the level of cooperation and coordination which exists in the national telephone system.  It does not make AGT's system less interprovincial and it does not make the Telecom Canada enterprise a mere loose association of interested parties.  Ownership itself is not conclusive.

 

    An individual organization does not necessarily retain its local character because it lacks the ability to effect an interprovincial connection on its own.  The criterion of a single promoter is not essential to a finding of an interprovincial operation.  Even if it were, AGT and the other members of Telecom Canada would be considered "single promoters" in that they act together, as one unit, through a form of joint venture to effect the various interprovincial connections which form the backbone of the Canadian telecommunications network.  To ignore the interdependence of the various members of Telecom Canada because of the separate corporate structures involved would be a sacrifice of substance to form and would advance no constitutional value.

 

    AGT's involvement in the interprovincial flow of signals does not begin and end at Alberta's border.  It, in conjunction with the other members of Telecom, provides a physical framework for the provision of interprovincial and international telecommunications services.  AGT itself provides the critical interconnection at Alberta's borders.

 

    The reference to "Her Majesty" in s. 16 of the federal Interpretation Act  refers not only to the Crown in right of Canada but also to the Crown in right of a province.  The scope of the words "mentioned or referred to" in that section must be given an interpretation independent of the supplanted common law with respect to Crown immunity.  These words are capable of encompassing:  (1) expressly binding words; (2) an intention revealed when provisions are read in the context of other textual provisions; and, (3) an intention to bind where an absurdity, as opposed to an undesirable result, were to occur if the government were not bound.  Any exception to the normal Crown immunity rule based on a necessary implication should be narrowly confined.

 

    The Railway Act cannot bind AGT except to the extent the provincial Crown is "mentioned or referred to" in the enactment.  Sections 320 and 5 of the Railway Act do not contain words that expressly bind the Crown and nothing in the context of these provisions indicates a clear Parliamentary intention to do so.  The fact that granting immunity will produce a regulatory vacuum with respect to AGT does not amount to a frustration of the Railway Act as a whole.  While granting immunity unless and until Parliament chooses to amend the legislation will produce a gap in potential coverage of the Railway Act, the Act can continue to function just as it did prior to this Court's finding that AGT is a federal undertaking.

 

    AGT did not waive its immunity when it took advantage of the benefits of federal regulation of telecommunications under the Railway Act.  To waive immunity, a nexus must be established indicating the benefit received by the Crown to be conditional upon compliance with the restriction.  Requiring a fairly close nexus between benefit and burden is in keeping with precedent, with the very nature of the Crown immunity doctrine and with the strict test for finding a legislative intention to bind the Crown.  A broad benefit/burden test would be overly legislative in the face of the current formulation of s. 16  of the Interpretation Act .

 

    The Alberta Government Telephones Act (AGT Act) provides the corporation with the capacity and powers to participate in the advantages of an integrated and federally regulated telecommunications network in the course of performing its telecommunications service to local subscribers.  None of AGT's actions through TransCanada Telephone Systems (TCTS), however, could be seen as an implied general submission to the entire statutory regime of benefits and burdens.  AGT does not now rely, nor has it relied, on particular benefits of the Railway Act or of CRTC regulation to which interconnection with CNCP is an attendant burden.  CNCP is neither a member of the TCTS agreement, nor is it requesting an interconnection pursuant to an existing agreement between it and AGT.  The advantages obtained by AGT under the Railway Act are insufficient to link it to CRTC jurisdiction under the theory of waiver of Crown immunity.  AGT cannot therefore be taken to have waived immunity with respect to burdens related to the operation of TCTS and other agreements.  If CNCP were a member of TCTS, it would be a different matter; or, if the requested interconnection related to an existing AGT/CNCP agreement, a sufficient nexus would exist.  The waiver doctrine would be stretched too far to hold that AGT, by its participation in the benefit of the TCTS agreements, has submitted itself to the general jurisdiction of the CRTC.

 

    A provincial Crown agent does not lose the immunity it would otherwise have by entering into a federally‑regulated area and becoming an interprovincial work or undertaking.  If activity in an area of federal jurisdiction alone sufficed to prevent the agent from invoking its immunity, s. 16  of the Interpretation Act would become a dead letter vis‑à‑vis the Crown in right of a province.  Entrance into one or another head of federal jurisdiction, simpliciter, does not automatically strip AGT of its Crown agency status and immunity.

 

    The doctrine that Crown immunity is lost when a Crown agent exceeds its statutory mandate makes particular sense in a unitary state where the regulating authority and the Crown agent fall under the same jurisdiction.  Parliament or the legislature can be assumed to have granted the immunity from its own regulation for specific purposes only; where the Crown acts for an extraneous purpose any reason for the grant of immunity is lost.  The doctrine may also be applied where one level of government seeks to invoke Crown immunity from a statute of the other.  The distinction between an agent acting for Crown purposes and acting personally applies.

 

    However, AGT has not exceeded its statutory mandate or Crown purposes.  Rather, as a provincial Crown agent, its statutory purposes and ever‑evolving technological advances eventually required it to operate as a federal undertaking in order to service its customers, thus attracting federal regulation.

 

    Per Wilson J. (dissenting):  AGT waived its entitlement to Crown immunity when it elected to garner the benefits of participating in a national telecommunications network under the regulatory supervision of the CRTC for, in doing so, it also had to accept the burdens accompanying that participation.  The benefit‑burden doctrine requires a close nexus between the benefit obtained and the burden sought to be imposed but does not require that nexus to be a specific limitation on a specific benefit.  The burden‑benefit doctrine therefore applies when the Crown agent has engaged in a deliberate and sustained course of conduct through which it has benefited from a particular provision or provisions of a statute.  The Crown agent cannot pick and choose the situations in which it wishes the legislation to apply.

 

    Section 320(7) of the Railway Act gives the CRTC jurisdiction to regulate the interconnection of telephone systems when one party refuses to agree to terms with another party which desires the interconnection.  This provision clearly confers a benefit on the party seeking the interconnection and imposes a burden on the party resisting it since it removes the matter from the parties in default of agreement and puts it in the hands of the CRTC.  AGT accordingly will be bound by s. 320(7) if it has undertaken a deliberate and sustained course of conduct supporting the application of the benefit‑burden doctrine.

 

    The applications made to the CRTC under s. 320(11) should be treated as if they had been made by the participating parties.  As an unincorporated association, Telecom Canada was nothing more than the sum of its constituent parts and, accordingly, the formal applications to the CRTC by Telecom Canada were made on behalf of all its members.  AGT, therefore, engaged in a sustained course of conduct through which it enjoyed the benefits derived from the agreements approved by the CRTC under s. 320(11) of the Railway Act.  The nexus between the broadly‑based benefits which AGT received and the broadly‑based burdens which CNCP seeks to impose upon it is sufficiently close to warrant the application of the benefit‑burden doctrine.  The fact that CNCP was never a party to any of the consensual interconnection agreements to which AGT was a party did not affect that nexus and prevent the imposition of the benefit‑burden doctrine on AGT.

 

Cases Cited

 

By Dickson C.J.

 

    Considered:  City of Montreal v. Montreal Street Railway, [1912] A.C. 333; Northern Telecom Ltd. v. Communications Workers of Canada, [1980] S.C.R. 115; The Queen in the Right of the Province of Ontario v. Board of Transport Commissioners, [1968] S.C.R. 118; Kootenay & Elk Railway Co. v. Canadian Pacific Railway Co., [1974] S.C.R. 955; Luscar Collieries Ltd. v. McDonald, [1925] S.C.R. 460; British Columbia Electric Railway Co. v. Canadian National Railway Co., [1932] S.C.R. 161; Her Majesty in right of the Province of Alberta v. Canadian Transport Commission, [1978] 1 S.C.R. 61; Sparling v. Quebec (Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec), [1988] 2 S.C.R. 1015; Province of Bombay v. City of Bombay, [1947] A.C. 58; R. v. Ouellette, [1980] 1 S.C.R. 568; Toronto Transportation Commission v. The King, [1949] S.C.R. 510; R. v. Murray, [1967] S.C.R. 262; distinguished:  Attorney‑General for Ontario v. Winner, [1954] A.C. 541; City of Toronto v. Bell Telephone Co. of Canada, [1905] A.C. 52; Fulton v. Energy Resources Conservation Board, [1981] 1 S.C.R. 153; R. v. Eldorado Nuclear Ltd., [1983] 2 S.C.R. 551; Canadian Broadcasting Corporation v. The Queen, [1983] 1 S.C.R. 339; referred to:  IBEW v. Alberta Government Telephones, [1989] 2 S.C.R. 000; Construction Montcalm Inc. v. Minimum Wage Commission, [1979] 1 S.C.R. 754; Saskatchewan Power Corp. v. TransCanada Pipelines Ltd., [1979] 1 S.C.R. 297; Capital Cities Communications Inc. v. Canadian Radio‑Television Commission, [1978] 2 S.C.R. 141; Public Service Board v. Dionne, [1978] 2 S.C.R. 191; R. v. Toronto Magistrates, Ex Parte Tank Truck Transport Ltd., [1960] O.R. 497; R. v. Cooksville Magistrate's Court, Ex parte Liquid Cargo Lines Ltd., [1965] 1 O.R. 84; Canadian Pacific Ltd. v. Telesat Canada (1982), 36 O.R. (2d) 229; Arrow Transfer Co., [1974] 1 Can. L.R.B.R. 29; In re Silver Bros., Ld., [1932] A.C. 514; Crooke's Case (1691), 1 Show. K.B. 208, 89 E.R. 540; Gartland Steamship Co. v. The Queen, [1960] S.C.R. 315; Bonanza Creek Gold Mining Co. v. The King, [1916] 1 A.C. 566; Gouvernement de la République démocratique du Congo v. Venne, [1971] S.C.R. 997.

 

By Wilson J. (dissenting)

 

    Sparling v. Quebec (Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec), [1988] 2 S.C.R. 1015; Attorney‑General for British Columbia v. Royal Bank of Canada and Island Amusement Co., [1937] 1 W.W.R. 273, aff'd on other grounds by [1937] S.C.R. 459; Reid v. Canadian Farm Loan Board, [1937] 4 D.L.R. 248; The Queen in the Right of the Province of Ontario v. Board of Transport Commissioners, [1968] S.C.R. 118; Bank of Montreal v. Bay Bus Terminal (North Bay) Ltd. (1971), 24 D.L.R. (3d) 13 (Ont. H.C.), aff'd as to the broad application of the benefit‑burden doctrine by (1972), 30 D.L.R. (3d) 24 (Ont. C.A.)

 

Statutes and Regulations Cited

 

Act respecting Government Telephone and Telegraph Systems, S.A. 1908, c. 14, ss. 1, 5.

 

Act respecting the Statutes of Canada, S.C. 1867, c. 1, s. 7.

 

Act to Amend The Telephone and Telegraph Act, S.A. 1956, c. 53, ss. 2, 4.

 

Aeronautics Act, R.S.C. 1970, c. A‑3.

 

Alberta Government Telephones Act, R.S.A. 1980, c. A‑23, ss. 1(c), (d), 2(2), 4(1), (2), (3), 9(1)(c), (d), (e), 10, 24, 42(1).

 

Alberta Government Telephones Act, S.A. 1958, c. 85, ss. 3, 34.

 

Bills of Exchange Act, R.S.C. 1952, c. 15.

 

Broadcasting Act, R.S.C. 1970, c. B‑11.

 

Canada Business Corporations Act , S.C. 1974‑75‑76, c. 33, ss. 121, 122.

 

Canadian Radio‑television and Telecommunications Commission Act , S.C. 1974‑75‑76, c. 49.

 

Combines Investigation Act, R.S.C. 1970, c. C‑23, s. 32(1)(c).

 

Companies Act, 1929, S.A. 1929, c. 14.

 

Constitution Act, 1867, ss. 91(29) , 92(10) (a), (b), (c).

 

Criminal Code, R.S.C. 1970, c. C‑34, ss. 2, 758, 771(3).

 

Crown Proceedings Act, 1947 (U.K.), 10 & 11 Geo. 6, c. 44, s. 31(1).

 

Debt Adjustment Act, 1932, S.M. 1932, c. 8.

 

Federal Court Act, R.S.C. 1970 (2nd supp.), c. 10, s. 18.

 

Government Railways Act, R.S.C. 1886, c. 38 (R.S.C. 1970, c. G-11).

 

Interpretation Act, R.S.B.C. 1979, c. 206, s. 14.

 

Interpretation Act, R.S.C. 1952, c. 158, ss. 3(1), 16, 27(2).

 

Interpretation Act, R.S.C. 1970, c. I‑23, ss. 3(2), 16, 28.

 

Interpretation Act, S.C. 1967‑68, c. 7.

 

Interpretation Act, S.P.E.I 1981, c. 18, s. 14.

 

National Transportation Act, R.S.C. 1970, c. N‑17, s. 64(1).

 

Public Utilities Board Act, R.S.A. 1980, c. P‑37, ss. 1(j), 70(1)(c).

 

Radio Act, R.S.C. 1970, c. R‑1.

 

Railway Act, R.S.C. 1970, c. R‑2, ss. 5, 320(1), (7), (11), (12).

 

Real Property Act, S.M. 1934, c. 38.

 

Rural Mutual Telephone Companies Act, S.A. 1935, c. 48.

 

State Immunity Act, 1978 (U.K.), 1978, c. 33, s. 3.

 

State Immunity Act, R.S.C., 1985, c. S‑18, s. 5 .

 

Telephone and Telegraph Act, R.S.A. 1922, c. 49.

 

Telephone and Telegraph Act, R.S.A. 1942, c. 198.

 

Telephone and Telegraph Act, R.S.A. 1955, c. 332.

 

Authors Cited

 

Brownlie, Ian.  Principles of Public International Law, 3rd ed.  Oxford:  Clarendon Press, 1979.

 

Halsbury's Laws of England, vol. 44, 4th ed.  London:  Butterworths, 1983.

 

Hogg, Peter W.  Constitutional Law of Canada, 2nd ed. Toronto:  Carswells, 1985.

 

Hogg, Peter W.  Liability of the Crown.  Sydney:  Law Book Co., 1971.

 

Lederman, W. R. "Telecommunications and the Federal Constitution of Canada", in H. Edward English, ed., Telecommunications for Canada:  An Interface of Business and Government.  Toronto:  Methuen, 1973.

 

McLeod, J. G.  The Conflict of Laws.  Calgary:  Carswells, 1983.

 

McNairn, Colin H. H.  "Comment" (1978), 56 Can. Bar Rev. 145.

 

McNairn, Colin H. H.  Governmental and Intergovernmental Immunity in Australia and Canada.  Toronto:  University of Toronto Press, 1977.

 

Swinton, Katherine.  "Federalism and Provincial Government Immunity" (1979), 29 U. of T. Law Journal 1.

 

    APPEAL from a judgment of the Federal Court of Appeal, [1986] 2 F.C. 179, allowing an appeal from a judgment of Reed J., [1985] 2 F.C. 472 (1984), 15 D.L.R. (4th) 515.  Appeal allowed (Wilson J. dissenting); the first constitutional question should be answered in the affirmative, the second in the negative.

 

    Colin K. Irving, John D. Rooke, Peter Hogg, Q.C., and Franklin S. Gertler, for the appellant and the intervener the Attorney General for Alberta.

 

    Eric A. Bowie, Q.C., and Donald J. Rennie, for the intervener the Attorney General of Canada.

 

    Jean‑Yves Bernard and Alain Gingras, for the intervener the Attorney General of Quebec.

 

    Reinhold M. Endres, for the intervener the Attorney General of Nova Scotia.

 

    Bruce Judah, for the intervener the Attorney General for New Brunswick.

 

    Glenn McFetridge and Dianne Paskewitz, for the intervener the Attorney General of Manitoba.

 

    E. R. A. Edwards, Q.C., for the intervener the Attorney General of British Columbia.

 

    Roger B. Langille and Charles P. Thompson, for the intervener the Attorney General of Prince Edward Island.

 

    Robert G. Richards, for the intervener the Attorney General for Saskatchewan.

 

    Ronald Stevenson, for the intervener the Attorney General of Newfoundland.

 

    C. R. O. Munro, Q.C., and M. H. Ryan, for the respondent CNCP Telecommunications.

 

    Greg Van Koughnett, for the respondent Canadian Radio‑television and Telecommunications Commission.

 

//The Chief Justice//

 

    The judgment of Dickson C.J. and McIntyre, Lamer, La Forest and L'Heureux-Dubé JJ. was delivered by

 

    THE CHIEF JUSTICE --

 

I.  Introduction

 

    In this case, the Court is asked to determine whether the appellant Alberta Government Telephones ("AGT") is subject to the regulatory authority of the respondent Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission ("CRTC").  Respondent CNCP Telecommunications ("CNCP") contends that AGT is under the jurisdiction of the CRTC.  AGT submits it is not, for two reasons:  first, it is not a federal work or undertaking within the meaning of s. 92(10) (a) of the Constitution Act, 1867 ; and second, even if it were, AGT is a provincial Crown agent and as such is entitled to claim immunity from the relevant federal statutes.

 

a)Procedural History

 

    On September 17, 1982, CNCP brought an application to the CRTC pursuant to the provisions of the Railway Act, R.S.C. 1970, c. R-2, as amended, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission Act , S.C. 1974-75-76, c. 49, and the National Transportation Act, R.S.C. 1970, c. N-17.  CNCP sought various orders under the Railway Act requiring AGT to provide facilities for the interchange of telecommunications traffic between the system operated by CNCP and the system operated by AGT.  On October 18, 1982, AGT brought an originating notice of motion under s. 18 of the Federal Court Act, R.S.C. 1970 (2nd Supp.), c. 10, as amended, for a writ of prohibition, or relief in the nature thereof.

 

    On October 26, 1984, Reed J. of the Federal Court, Trial Division granted AGT's application for a writ of prohibition in carefully written reasons, now reported at (1984), 15 D.L.R. (4th) 515; [1985] 2 F.C. 472.  Reed J. held that AGT was an interprovincial work or undertaking within the meaning of s. 92(10) (a) and thus that AGT fell within the legislative authority of the Parliament of Canada.  However, Reed J. also held that the CRTC could not grant the orders applied for by CNCP because AGT was an agent of the provincial Crown and therefore was entitled to claim immunity from the provisions of the Railway Act.

 

    The order of Reed J. was set aside by the Federal Court of Appeal (Pratte J., Heald and Urie JJ. concurring) in reasons now reported at [1986] 2 F.C. 179.  The Federal Court of Appeal affirmed Reed J.'s conclusion that AGT was a federal undertaking within s. 92(10) (a) but reversed her ruling on the Crown immunity issue.

 

    Leave to appeal was granted by this Court.  The Court ordered that this case be heard together with the appeal in IBEW v. Alberta Government Telephones, [1989] 2 S.C.R. 000, the decision in which is being delivered concurrently with the present case.  The following Attorneys General intervened in support of the appellants in both cases: Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Manitoba, British Columbia, Prince Edward Island, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland.  The Attorney General of Canada intervened in support of the respondents in both appeals.

 

(b)Constitutional Provisions and Questions

 

Constitution Act, 1867 

 

    The applicable constitutional provisions are as follows:

 

    91. 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,--

 

                                                                          . . .

 

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.

 

                                                                          . . .

 

    92. In each Province the Legislature may exclusively make Laws in relation to Matters coming within the Classes of Subject next hereinafter enumerated;  that is to say,--

 

                                                                          . . .

 

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.

 

    The following constitutional questions were set by order of the Court:

 

1.Is Alberta Government Telephones a work or undertaking within the legislative authority of the Parliament of Canada by virtue of s. 92(10) (a) or otherwise of the Constitution Act, 1987?

 

2.If the answer to question 1 is in the affirmative, is Alberta Government Telephones bound by the relevant provisions of the Railway Act?

 

II.  The Facts

 

    The factual analysis of AGT's enterprises provided by Reed J. is most helpful and was acknowledged by counsel to be both accurate and complete (see the judgment of the Federal Court of Appeal, supra, at p. 195).   It is necessary, however, to review the facts in some detail as they are critical to the determination of both constitutional questions, in particular the first.

 

(a)The Statutory History of AGT and the Role of the Alberta Public Utilities Board

 

    AGT began operations in 1906.  By section 1 of its inaugural statute, An Act respecting Government Telephone and Telegraph Systems, S.A. 1908, c. 14, the Government of Alberta was granted authority to purchase, construct and operate "in the province a telephone or telegraph system or systems ...."   In section 5, the Government of Alberta is defined as "His Majesty in the right of the Province of Alberta".   This statute appears as The Telephone and Telegraph Act in R.S.A. 1922, c. 49, R.S.A. 1942, c. 198, and R.S.A. 1955, c. 332.  In An Act to Amend the Telephone and Telegraph Act, S.A. 1956, c. 53, an amending statute, there are several references to the "Alberta Government Telephone System" -- see ss. 2 and 4.   (An earlier reference to "Alberta Government Telephones" may be found in The Rural Mutual Telephone Companies Act, S.A. 1935, c. 48.)

 

    The Telephone and Telegraph Act, R.S.A. 1955, c. 332, was repealed by s. 34 of The Alberta Government Telephones Act, S.A. 1958, c. 85.  Section 3 of this statute established a Commission under the name of "The Alberta Government Telephones Commission".  By section 3(3) this Commission could also be known as the "Alberta Government Telephones".

 

    The present statute under which AGT operates is the Alberta Government Telephones Act, R.S.A. 1980, c. A-23, as amended (hereinafter referred to as the "AGT Act").

 

    The Minister of Technology, Research and Telecommunications is charged with the administration of the AGT Act and by s. 2(2) "may control all telecommunications services subject to the jurisdiction of the Legislature and may provide or direct provision of all such services".  The AGT Commission is a corporation having capacity to acquire, hold and alienate real property.  The main powers of the Commission are set out in s. 4 which provides:

 

4(1)  The commission may purchase, construct, extend, maintain, manufacture, operate and lease to and from other persons, a system or systems in Alberta, including private communication systems.

 

(2) The commission may carry out research in and consult in telecommunications.

 

(3) The Lieutenant Governor in Council may refer or assign to the commission

 

(a)  the administration of any other Act, and

 

(b)  the performance of any duty or task, including the performance of any contract entered into by the Government for the establishment, maintenance or operation of a system in any other province or territory of Canada,

 

and notwithstanding anything in this Act, the commission has all the powers, authorities and functions expressed or provided in the Act referred to it for administration, or necessary to the proper carrying out of a duty or task assigned to it under this subsection.

 

    The terms "system" and "telecommunication" are defined in s. 1(c) and (d) as follows:

 

1 . . .

 

(c) "system" means a telecommunication system and includes all land, plants, supplies, buildings, works, rights, franchises, easements, assets and property of every kind owned, held, required or used for the purpose of, or in connection with, or for the operation of the telecommunication system;

 

(d) "telecommunication" means telecommunication as defined in the Public Utilities Board Act.

 

    With respect to "telecommunication", the current definition of that term in s. 1(j) of the Public Utilities Board Act, R.S.A. 1980, c. P-37, as amended by S.A. 1981, c. 35, s. 2(b) is:

 

"telecommunication" means any transmission, emission or reception of signs, signals, writings, images, sounds, data, message or intelligence of any nature by wire, radiocommunication, cable, waves or any electronic, electromagnetic or optical means but does not include the transmission, emission or reception of broadcasting that is a radio communication in which the transmissions are intended for direct reception by the general public;

 

    I would note that the definition of telecommunication as it appeared in the 1980 versions of both the AGT Act (s. 1(d)) and the Public Utilities Board Act (s. 1(j)) was slightly different as there was no reference to "broadcasting".  It read as follows:

 

(j) "telecommunication" means a transmission, emission or reception of signs, signals, writings, images, sounds or intelligence of any nature by wire, radio, visual or other electromagnetic system;

 

    Under section 9(1) the duties of the Commission are set out and they include the obligation to "regulate the installation and maintenance of services to subscribers, classify subscribers and fix standards of service to be furnished" (subs. (c)); to "prepare from time to time schedules of rates for filing with or approval by the Public Utilities Board" (subs. (d)); and to "keep the accounts of the system and collect the revenues thereof" (subs. (e)).  Further, by s. 10, the Commission is required to establish the terms and conditions under which its service is furnished and these must be published in AGT's general tariff.

 

    The power to enter into agreements is set out in s. 24 which states:

 

24  The commission may enter into an agreement with any person providing for the connection, intercommunication, joint operation, reciprocal use or transmission of business between any systems owned or operated by the parties thereto and for any consequent division of receipts, expenditures or profits or any financial or other adjustments that may be advisable or necessary for the purposes of the agreement.

 

    Finally, and with particular reference to the second issue in this appeal, s. 42(1) of the AGT Act provides:

 

42(1) The commission is an agent of the Crown in right of Alberta and its powers may be exercised only as an agent of the Crown.

 

    With respect to the role of the Alberta Public Utilities Board, s. 70(1)(c) of the Public Utilities Board Act, gives the Board regulatory authority over:

 

(c) all public utilities owned or operated by or under the control of the Crown, or an agent of the Crown, in right of Alberta.

 

    Reed J. found ((1984), 15 D.L.R. (4th) 515, at p. 519) that "The Board has, in fact, regulated AGT and its predecessors since 1908 ...."  However, she doubted the "effectiveness" of the Board as a regulator of AGT and commented, at p. 526:

 

One can speculate that the board's approval of AGT's activities is likely to be no more than pro forma in many instances.  I would underline that there is no evidence respecting such lack of control, it is merely a conclusion one seems inescapably driven to make.

 

    In an affidavit filed by AGT in support of the application for prohibition, it is stated that the Board has exercised jurisdiction over AGT in relation to its system, equipment, rates and interconnection with other telecommunications systems and other matters, all under various sections of the Public Utilities Board Act.  The clearest piece of evidence with respect to the role of the Board emerged in the IBEW v. Alberta Government Telephones proceedings.  In a response to a question put forward by the Canada Labour Relations Board, AGT stated that the Board approves AGT's rates for basic or non-competitive services but specific individual rate approval is not sought for non-basic or competitive services (subject to AGT meeting certain tests prescribed by the Board).  Rates for interprovincial services are established by AGT based on negotiation with telephone companies in other provinces.  A similar process of consultation occurs with the appropriate parties regarding rates for international telephone services although the final decision is made by AGT subject to approval of the Public Utilities Board.

 

    Finally, with respect to international agreements entered into by AGT (and other telephone companies), it appears that the Alberta Public Utilities Board does not exercise any jurisdiction, as there was evidence that such agreements were not normally submitted to the Board for approval.

 

(b)The Nature of AGT's Enterprise

 

    Reed J.'s findings of fact on the nature of AGT's enterprise fall under three headings:  the physical structure and facilities of AGT;  the telecommunications services provided by AGT;  and the contractual and organizational mechanisms through which AGT offers its services.   I will review each of these by reference to Reed J.'s description and to the record.

 

    (i)  AGT's Structure and Facilities

 

    The local exchange system was described in full by Reed J. at p. 519, supra, and need not be repeated.   A local central office switches both local and long-distance or "toll" calls.   The exchanges are connected by trunks to the toll centres which are connected by buried cable or microwave to provide an intercity, long-distance service.

 

    The microwave system of AGT consists of a number of towers, 20 to 30 miles apart.   Each tower supports one or more antennae connected to transmitters with receivers found at the base of the tower.   The towers transmit and receive Hertzian waves and are licensed under the federal Radio Act, R.S.C. 1970, c. R-1.  One tower sends a radio signal beamed in a straight line to a receiver in an adjacent tower and that tower retransmits it to the next one.   This process is also described as "point to point" transmission.

 

    The physical interconnection between AGT's system and that of companies operating outside Alberta was outlined by Reed J. as follows (supra, at pp. 519-20):

 

    The AGT microwave network is linked to that of the British Columbia Telephone Company by the sending and receiving of signals between towers, one located in Bay Tree, Alberta, and the other located at Bear Mountain, British Columbia (the northerly route), and by the sending and receiving of signals between towers, one located at Crowsnest Ridge, Alberta and the other located at Fernie, British Columbia (the southerly route).   AGT is linked to the Saskatchewan Telecommunications network by the sending and receiving of signals between towers, one located at Blackfoot, Alberta and the other located at Lashburn, Saskatchewan (the northerly route) and between towers, one located at Pashley, Alberta and the other at Cummings, Saskatachewan (the southerly route).   There may also be cable links between the Alberta-British Columbia and the Alberta-Saskatchewan systems but the main method of transmission is the microwave network.

 

    The AGT telecommunications system is connected to the Northwest Territories system (operated by Canadian National) by the sending and receiving of signals between towers, one located at Indian Cabins, Alberta and the other at Grumbler Rapids in the Northwest Territories:  and it is connected to the system operated by the American Telephone and Telegraph Company (AT&T) in Montana by the sending and receiving of signals between Milk River, Alberta and Santa Rita, Montana.   There is also a coaxial cable linkage between Alberta and Montana but the majority of the traffic is carried on the microwave system.

 

    In addition, the physical facilities of AGT are connected by cable to three earth stations (two in the Edmonton area, one in Calgary).  Two of the earth stations are partly owned by AGT and partly by Telesat Canada (AGT owns the building and the Antenna foundation;  Telesat owns the antenna and the electronic equipment required to make up the receivers and transmitters associated with that antenna).  The third earth station is entirely owned by Telesat.   This linkage allows AGT access to a satellite transmission system for the provision of telecommunication services.

 

    Reed J. then described AGT's system of mobile and base transmitters which allow for communications to and from moving vehicles, such as a motor car, or stationary structures, such as an oil rig.   The telephone calls to and from mobile equipment are integrated into the AGT network allowing for local, interprovincial and international communications.   The base station for this service is a fixed structure which has an antenna with a transmitter and receiver.   AGT, in 1980-81 operated 200 to 300 such stations, each with an operating range of a 20 to 30 mile radius.  Unlike the point-to-point transmission involved in the microwave tower system, the base stations and the mobile transmitters send the signals in all directions, horizontally, at the same time.   As a result, therefore, base stations and motor vehicles located close to the borders of Alberta do not limit their field of operation to within the confines of the province.   This system of mobile and base transmitters is also licensed under the Radio Act.

 

    In concluding her description of AGT's physical system, Reed J. pointed out that AGT provides telecommunication facilities and services to the residents of Lloydminster, Saskatchewan.  Lloydminster is a community which straddles the border of Alberta and Saskatchewan and AGT services all the residents of Lloydminster regardless of which province they are located in.

 

    Later in her reasons Reed J. provided a summary of the salient facts.  With respect to the physical system of AGT she stated, in part, at p. 530:

 

    AGT takes signals emanating from its subscribers' telephone sets and transmits them to points outside Alberta;  it takes signals emanating from outside Alberta and transmits them to the intended receiver in Alberta; and in some cases it may transmit signals through Alberta (refer TCTS -- Teleglobe agreement, para. 6).

 

    AGT's physical telecommunications facilities not only connect at the borders, there is also a more pervasive integration.   The same telephone sets, line, exchanges and microwave networks are used for the provision of local and interprovincial services as well as international ones.   It is clear that many AGT employees are involved in the provision of both intraprovincial and extraprovincial services without distinction.

 

    (ii)  AGT's Telecommunications Services

 

    AGT provides its customers with intraprovincial, interprovincial and international voice (local and long-distance) and data telecommunications services.  The voice service is termed "basic" while the data transmission services are referred to as "non-basic".  AGT has separate tariff manuals for each.  Reed J. relied on the tariff manuals as evidence of the interprovincial and international aspects of the telecommunications services.  With respect to "basic" services, AGT has rate schedules for long distance calls between rate centres in Alberta, and between Alberta and British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and the Canadian northwest region as well as a further schedule for calls to the rest of Canada as well as St.Pierre/Miquelon.  AGT provides international service and the rate schedules are reflective of this fact as there are rates for calls between Alberta and Alaska, Hawaii, the continental United States, the Caribbean, Mexico and overseas.

 

    With regard to the "non-basic" services, Reed J. referred to the tariff manuals again for descriptions of the various services (Envoy 100, Teletype service, Teletypewriter Exchange Service, Datacom Services), and as a source of information on the places to which these telecommunications services are provided.  Reed J. stated, at p. 523:

 

These tariff schedules also demonstrate that the services provided involve the transmission of data and messages from centres within Alberta to centres without.

 

    The rate charged depends on mileage between the originating and receiving data stations or by reference to the specific exchange area to which the service is provided.  In both instances the rate schedule contemplates service being provided to locations outside Alberta.

 

    (iii)Contractual and Organisational Mechanisms Through Which AGT Provides its Telecommunications Services

 

    AGT is a member of an unincorporated organization which is called "Telecom Canada", formerly known as "TransCanada Telephone System" (TCTS). Telecom Canada was originally created in 1931 by seven of the present ten members.  The present membership is:  AGT, British Columbia Telephone Company, Saskatchewan Telecommunications, Manitoba Telephone System, Bell Canada, The New Brunswick Telephone Company Limited, Maritime Telegraph and Telephone Company Limited, the Island Telephone Company Limited, Newfoundland Telephone Company and Telesat Canada.   The CRTC exercises regulatory authority over Bell Canada, British Columbia Telephone Company and Telesat Canada.   The remaining members of Telecom Canada are regulated by the province in which the member is situated.

 

    Agreements

 

    There are two agreements in the record between the members of Telecom Canada:  a "Connecting Agreement", dated December 31, 1976, and an  "Agency Agreement" dated December 1, 1978.  I will return to the Connecting Agreement shortly.  There are six agreements in the record signed by the individual members of Telecom Canada with various international telecommunications carriers.  One agreement is with Teleglobe Canada, an overseas telecommunications carrier.  Five of the agreements are with the following American companies:  American Telephone and Telegraph Company, Telenet Communications Corporation, Tymnet Inc., American Satellite Company,  and MCI Telecommunications Corporation.

 

    I noted earlier that three of the members of Telecom Canada are regulated by the CRTC.  Certain agreements entered into by those bodies must be approved by the CRTC by virtue of s. 320(11) of the Railway Act.  Telesat Canada, for example, brought an application under this section seeking CRTC approval of Telesat Canada's membership in Telecom Canada pursuant to the Connecting Agreement.  The CRTC decision was reversed by the Governor General in Council pursuant to s. 64(1) of the National Transportation Act.  (See Telecom decision CRTC No. 77-10, rev'd by Order in Council P.C. 1977-3152).  The Agency Agreement between the members of Telecom Canada was approved, however, by the CRTC on the application of Telesat Canada:  see Telecom Order CRTC No. 79-60.  The six agreements with international carriers referred to above were also approved by the CRTC on the application of Bell Canada (see the following Telecom Orders:  CTC/CRTC Nos. 79-25 (Teleglobe), T-97 (AT&T), 79-194 (Telenet), 79-195 (Tymnet Inc.), 83-446 (American Satellite), and 83-201 (MCI)).

 

    The final group of agreements involve AGT and particular Canadian telecommunications carriers.   In Reed J.'s explanation of the physical facilities of AGT, she noted that AGT's system is linked to the networks operated by the British Columbia Telephone Company, Saskatchewan Telecommunications and  Canadian National Railways.  There are three agreements on the record which provide for these physical interconnections.   Two connecting agreements are with members of Telecom Canada.   One is between AGT and the British Columbia Telephone Company and the other is between AGT and Saskatchewan Telecommunications.

 

    These two agreements are not dissimilar and an illustration of their nature may be afforded by the following excerpts of the agreement between AGT and British Columbia Telephone Company (BC TEL):

 

WHEREAS BC TEL operates a telecommunications system in the Province of British Columbia

 

AND WHEREAS AGT operates a telecommunications system in the Province of Alberta

 

AND WHEREAS the system of BC TEL and the system of AGT are connected for the purpose of interchanging telecommunications services and accordingly it is mutually desired to set forth terms and conditions under which such connections shall be made.

 

NOW, THEREFORE, in consideration of the mutual promises and agreements hereinafter contained, each party hereby agrees as follows:

 

                                                                           ...

 

3. Each party shall connect its telecommunications facilities with the facilities of the other party and shall use these facilities so established for the purpose of an interchange of telecommunications services between its customers and patrons and the customers and patrons of the other party and for such other purposes as may be agreed upon between the parties.

 

    The last agreement I wish to refer to is between AGT and Canadian National Railways.  Canadian National Railways operates the telecommunications system in Northwestern Canada and is under the regulatory authority of the CRTC in this respect.   Approval of this agreement and various amendments has been given by the CRTC on application by Canadian National Railway (see Telecom Orders CTC/CRTC Nos. T-180, T-309, 76-3 and 77-258.)

 

    It is as a result of all of the above agreements that AGT is able to provide interprovincial and international competitive (non-basic) and non-competitive (basic) services.  It remains to consider the nature of the most important of these agreements and the organizational infrastructure which has developed to facilitate the provision of AGT's telecommunications.

 

    AGT and Telecom Canada

 

    Earlier, I mentioned the Telecom Canada Connecting Agreement.  In a petition dated July 23, 1981, brought to the Governor General in Council, this agreement was described by the various members of Telecom Canada as being (supra, at p. 523):

 

The principal agreement under which all members of TCTS, including Telesat, agree to connect their respective telecommunications networks, and to share in the expenditures and revenues relative to the construction, operation and maintenance of a national network.

 

In the preamble to the Connecting Agreement it is stated:

 

WHEREAS the parties hereto are the principal providers of telecommunications services in their respective operating areas, and

 

WHEREAS the parties hereto desire to fulfil the telecommunications requirements of users of their respective systems by providing access to users in territories beyond their respective operating areas, including users and areas served either by the parties hereto, or by other systems operating outside Canada, and

 

WHEREAS to provide to users within their respective operating areas the required range and scope of telecommunications services, the parties hereto desire to continue to connect their respective systems and jointly furnish telecommunications services in accordance with the terms and conditions herein contained.

 

    In her reasons, Reed J. reproduced certain passages from the above- mentioned petition wherein the members describe the nature and primary function of Telecom Canada in the following terms (supra, at p. 524):

 

3.  The Trans-Canada Telephone System is a loose consortium of independent fully integrated telecommunications undertakings which work together to establish methods of planning, building plant for, and operating long distance telecommunication services within Canada in Canadian facilities.  The TCTs [sic] network provides a full range of coast-to-coast telecommunications services and a wide variety of transmission facilities, including among others, coast-to-coast microwave radio relay systems and satellite channels.  TCTS was originally formed in 1931 in response to the desire to have an all-Canadian long-distance integrated telephone network on a coast to coast basis.

 

                                                                          . . .

 

5. TCTS serves three main purposes.  First, it provides a mechanism through which each member offers national telecommunications services to its customers.  Second, it establishes a process of planning, standard setting and cooperation which permits the constructions [sic] and operation by the ten members, working together, of a national telecommunications network.  Third, it provides a mechanism where members can cooperate in areas where savings or efficiences [sic] can be achieved through joint action, e.g. certain technical or market research projects.

 

Two of the recitals to the Connecting Agreement read as follows:

 

WHEREAS the parties hereto desire to fulfil the telecommunications requirements of users of their respective systems by providing access to users in territories beyond their respective operating areas, including users and areas served either by the parties hereto, or by other systems operating outside Canada,

 

                                                                          . . . 

 

WHEREAS to provide to users within their respective operating areas the required range and scope of telecommunications services, the parties hereto desire to continue to connect their respective systems and jointly furnish telecommunications services in accordance with the terms and conditions herein contained.

 

    Several sections in this agreement are reproduced in Reed J.'s judgment at pp. 524-26.  In section 2 of this agreement, the parties "agree to connect together their respective telecommunications systems" and by s. 3 a Board of Management is established.  The Board consists of one representative appointed by each of the parties and further, "Any matter coming before the Board shall require unanimous agreement before adoption."  The powers of the Board are set out in s. 4 and they include the authority to establish the terms, conditions and rates for "Trans-Canada services" (s. 4(d)); to determine the basis of settlement and the apportionment of revenues derived from "services provided by TCTS" (s. 4(e)); and to establish and maintain a "Clearing House" for the purpose of carrying out necessary financial transactions (s. 4(i)).  The "Clearing House" is to be operated by the administrative staff which the Board may set up under s. 4(f).

 

    The parties are required to adopt and observe rules, regulations and practices established by the Board from time to time for the provision and administration of telecommunications services (s. 6).  With respect to telecommunications facilities and system interconnection, ss. 7, 9 and 10 provide:

 

7.  That facilities provided by each party for the provision of TCTS services will be designed and operated in the most economical manner to achieve such standards of service and transmission quality as may be from time to time established by the Board.

 

                                                                          . . .

 

9.  That the system of each of the parties hereto shall be deemed to include all telecommunications systems, other than those of the parties hereto maintaining connecting arrangements with the system of each such party.

 

10. That each party shall connect its respective telecommunications facilities with the facilities of the other parties hereto at such point or points as may from time to time be mutually agreed upon.

 

    In addition, the use of Telesat Canada's communications satellite system is set out in s. 11 and in a Memorandum of Agreement attached to the Connecting Agreement as Schedule A.  As was explained, at p. 525:

 

Schedule A sets out the terms and conditions under which the satellite facilities of Telesat Canada will be integrated with the terrestial facilities of the others [sic] members of TCTS to form a combined terrestial and satellite Trans-Canada telecommunications network.

 

    Finally, by s. 19 each of the parties is obligated to maintain and operate its system to enable the provision of effective service and "to provide sufficient facilities to handle adequately all telecommunications services" furnished under the agreement.

 

    A number of the provisions of the Connecting Agreement pertain to the mechanism by which rates for telecommunications are determined, charged, collected and then divided.  Section 12 states:

 

12.  That the telecommunications services provided hereunder shall be charged for at rates and charges such as the parties hereto may from time to time agree upon.

 

    By section 13 each party must collect from its customers for "all telecommunications services provided hereunder" and each party remains accountable for the portion of this revenue due to the other parties in accordance with the basis for settlement determined by the Board.

 

    Reed J. provided a useful summary of the organizational structure of Telecom Canada.  The President of AGT is automatically the company's representative on the Telecom Board of Directors.  Also, one or more of AGT's senior executives are members of each of Telecom's eleven committees; Business Development, Marketing, Personnel, Public Relations and Advertising, Rates, Settlement, Engineering (Network Development), Engineering (Planning), Engineering (Technical), Plant Network, and Computer Communications.  The central staff of Telecom Canada has offices in Ottawa and Toronto and almost thirty AGT employees work on that staff.

 

    After reviewing the above-noted evidence, Reed J. concluded, at p. 526:

 

    The names and nature of the committees, the role played by AGT employees and the terms of the "Connecting Agreement" demonstrate that TCTS is the co-ordinating, planning and organizational heart of the integrated telecommunications system of which each member's facilities form a part.

 

She also pointed out that Telecom Canada does not have any independent physical network facilities (at p. 527).

 

    Telecom Canada acts as a fiscal clearing house for the distribution of revenue derived from the provision of Telecom services.  This is done in compliance with a Revenue Settlement Plan.  These services include long distance calls between the members (but excluding calls between adjacent members -- such as Alberta and Saskatchewan), all international calls, and all of the "non-basic" or competitive data transmission services -- regardless of whether the service is provided by use of only one member's facilities.

 

    The rationale behind the inclusion of all the non-basic services in Telecom Canada revenues may be found in the petition dated July 23, 1981, referred to earlier, where, in respect of such services, it is stated:

 

    These services are marketed and provided by TCTS as national services.  The needs of many customers for such services are national in scope, rather than limited to the territory of any one member of TCTS, and such customers expect the same quality, terms, and conditions of service throughout the country.  In order to provide such services on a nation-wide basis, it is of prime importance that there be an incentive for each TCTS member to introduce and participate in such services.  Such services require that substantial investment be made by each TCTS member in its own operating territory in order to provide the technology and facilities necessary to furnish the service on a nation-wide basis.  The classification as TCTS services of services such as those in question and also future competitive services provides such an incentive to all member companies and ensures that services are introduced in a manner which optimises engineering and traffic efficiency.

 

    These resulting revenues are not divided in proportion to the use of any particular member's facilities but rather, as noted by Reed J., at p. 528: "so as to support the development of telecommunications services throughout the country".

 

    Revenues which are excluded from the Telecom Canada distribution scheme are the already mentioned long distance telephone calls between adjacent members, and local and long distance telephone service within a member's province.

 

    With respect to the role of Telecom Canada in the arrangements made between its members and various international telecommunications carriers, Reed J. stated, at pp. 528-29:

 

    Another function which TCTS performs is to act as the central co-ordinating body for dealing with United States carriers and with Teleglobe respecting the provision of overseas services.  AGT does not deal directly with such non-TCTS members, dealings are carried on through the relevant TCTS committee . . . .

 

                                                                          . . .

 

I have referred above and elsewhere in these reasons to these agreements as TCTS agreements.  TCTS is, of course, an unincorporated organization and therefore, while the agreements will be titled as being with TCTS, the members thereof are always specifically named as being the parties to the agreement.  At the same time there is frequently a clause in the agreement which provides that the non-TCTS contracting party may deal with the president of TCTS and through its clearing house and need not deal individually with the member parties.

 

    Finally, in her summary of the facts Reed J., at pp. 530-31, described AGT as playing an integral part in the Telecom Canada organization, both at the managerial and, apparently, at the staff level.

 

    This concludes my review of the facts and I turn now to the two constitutional questions, which will be dealt with in turn.

 

III.  The First Constitutional Question -- The Jurisdiction Issue

 

a)The Federal Court Judgments

 

    (i) Federal Court, Trial Division -- Reed J.

 

    Reed J. held that AGT was engaged in a federal work or undertaking within the meaning of s. 92(10) (a).  In her view the appropriate method of inquiry was to determine whether the undertaking engaged in "a significant amount of continuous and regular interprovincial activity".  She concluded, at pp. 532-33:

 

The dispute is whether it should be characterized as a local undertaking, or as one "connecting the Province with any other or others of the Provinces, or extending beyond the Limits of the Province."

 

    The evidence seems to leave little scope for anything but a conclusion that AGT engages in a significant degree of continuous and regular interprovincial activity, and therefore must be classified as the latter.

 

    Reed J. rejected AGT's argument that it does not fall within s. 92(10) (a) because it does not have any physical facilities outside Alberta.  She pointed out that the text of s. 92(10) (a) merely requires that an undertaking "connect" provinces.  In her view, the section does not require there to be physical facilities existing outside the province. Further, the term "undertaking" had been given an extensive meaning by the courts and AGT's argument placed unwarranted emphasis on the location and nature of AGT's physical facilities.

 

    Reed J. stated, at p. 535, that "The crucial feature then is the nature of the enterprise itself, not the physical equipment it uses".  Applying this test to the facts, Reed J. continued:

 

AGT offers to its customers local, interprovincial and international telecommunications services.  Its physical facilities are used to provide all three without discrimination -- the services are totally integrated. Indeed, one could not separate the local from the non-local without emasculating AGT's enterprise as it presently exists.

 

    The learned judge did agree with AGT, however, that physical interconnection itself may not be enough to trigger federal regulation of an enterprise:  "Something more is needed and this has been described as how the system is operated" (p. 536).

 

    In order to find "sufficient organization interconnection", Reed J. turned to AGT's role in Telecom Canada and thus confronted the argument that Telecom Canada is not a legal entity and that each of the parties controls its own system and provides services to its own customers only.  Reed J. rejected the validity of this line of argument because it "gives too much importance to the niceties of legal structure rather than focusing on the realities of the situation" (p. 537).  She concluded that Telecom Canada, and AGT's role in it, demonstrates the common and joint telecommunications enterprise which exists and showed that AGT did not operate a merely local undertaking.

 

    The fact that AGT legally retained control over its facilities was not determinative because, in Reed J.'s words, at p. 537:

 

. . . as a practical reality it [AGT] could not separate itself from the joint TCTS enterprise without destroying its telecommunications system in its present form.  The fact that unanimous agreement is required by TCTS members should not disguise the constraints, the existence of the integrated system and the interdependence of the members will impose.

 

    In closing, Reed J. pointed out that the lack of any prior assertion of regulatory authority by the federal government during the 80 years or so during which telephone systems have grown up has no bearing on the issue of constitutional jurisdiction and does not give rise to some "sort of constitutional squatters rights" (p. 538).

 

    (ii)  Federal Court of Appeal -- Pratte J. (Heald and Urie JJ.)

 

    Pratte J. (Heald and Urie JJ. concurring) agreed with Reed J.'s reasoning and result on the constitutional issue.   He rejected counsels' argument that Reed J. confused the nature of the undertaking of AGT with that of the services provided to its customers which were admittedly extra-provincial in scope, and that she further erred in considering the role played by other companies.  Pratte J. responded to this submission and added an additional basis upon which to uphold Reed J.'s conclusion (supra, at pp. 186-87):

 

Reed J., as I read her reasons, did not base her conclusion on the nature of the services provided by TCTS but on the fact that AGT's undertaking was operated as an integral part of a national telecommunication system.   That fact was not seriously challenged before us and, in my opinion, supported her conclusion.   But even if it did not, her conclusion could, in my view, be sustained on another ground.   In operating its undertaking, AGT regularly makes use of its microwave towers to send messages to points located outside of Alberta.   That shows clearly, in my view, that AGT's undertaking is not purely local but is an undertaking which connects Alberta with other provinces.

 

(b)Analysis:  Is AGT a s. 92(10) (a) Work or Undertaking?

 

    Let me say at the outset that none of the parties or interveners in this appeal advocated a divided jurisdiction, with the province regulating the intraprovincial or local aspects of the operations of AGT and Parliament regulating the interprovincial and international aspects.  It is an all or nothing affair.

 

    The case law clearly establishes that if a work or undertaking falls within s. 92(10) (a) it is removed from the jurisdiction of the provinces and exclusive jurisdiction lies with the federal Parliament (City of Montreal v. Montreal Street Railway, [1912] A.C. 333 (P.C.) (hereinafter Montreal Street Railway), at p. 342; Attorney General for Ontario v. Winner, [1954] A.C. 541 (P.C.) (hereinafter Winner), at p. 568).

 

    In Northern Telecom Ltd. v. Communications Workers of Canada, [1980] S.C.R. 115 (hereinafter Northern Telecom, 1980), this Court outlined the appropriate constitutional principles for determining whether legislative authority over the labour relations of employees lies in the federal or provincial sphere.  The issue was whether the supervisors of installers of telecommunications equipment fell under the federal government's jurisdiction.  The Court declined to answer the question because of a nearly total absence of necessary constitutional facts.  The Court did, however, state the appropriate framework of analysis in cases involving a similar issue.  The Court adopted and summarized an earlier discussion on this point by Beetz J. in Construction Montcalm Inc. v. Minimum Wage Commission, [1979] 1 S.C.R. 754.  Two of the six principles outlined in Northern Telecom, 1980 at p. 132 are relevant here:

 

(5)  The question whether an undertaking, service or business is a federal one depends on the nature of its operation.

 

(6)  In order to determine the nature of the operation, one must look at the normal or habitual activities of the business as those of "a going concern", without regard for exceptional or casual factors; otherwise, the Constitution could not be applied with any degree of continuity and regularity.

 

    There is ample authority for the proposition that the crucial issue in any particular case is the nature or character of the undertaking that is in fact being carried on:  City of Toronto v. Bell Telephone Co. of Canada, [1905] A.C. 52 (P.C.) (hereinafter Toronto v. Bell), at p. 59; Winner, supra, at pp. 581-82;  The Queen in the Right of the Province of Ontario v. Board of Transport Commissioners, [1968] S.C.R. 118, at p. 127 (hereinafter the "Go-Train" case);  Kootenay & Elk Railway Co. v. Canadian Pacific Railway Co., [1974] S.C.R. 955, at pp. 979-80 (hereinafter Kootenay & Elk Railway Co.); Saskatchewan Power Corp. v. TransCanada Pipelines Ltd., [1979] 1 S.C.R. 297, at p. 308; Luscar Collieries Ltd.  v. McDonald, [1925] S.C.R. 460, at p. 475 (hereinafter Luscar Collieries).

 

    It is impossible, in my view, to formulate in the abstract a single comprehensive test which will be useful in all of the cases involving s. 92(10) (a).  The common theme in the cases is simply that the court must be guided by the particular facts in each situation, an approach mandated by this Court's decision in Northern Telecom, 1980, supra.  Useful analogies may be found in the decided cases, but in each case the determination of this constitutional issue will depend on the facts which must be carefully reviewed as was done by the trial judge in the present appeal.

 

    It was conceded that AGT is an "undertaking" within the meaning of s. 92(10) (a) (see Reed J. supra, at p. 532), and the issue is whether it is a "local" undertaking and therefore within provincial jurisdiction, or an undertaking "connecting the Province with any other or others of the Provinces, or extending beyond the Limits of the Province", and therefore within federal jurisdiction.

 

    The appellant AGT argues that it is a local undertaking and particular significance is placed on the fact that with the exception of Lloydminster, Saskatchewan, all of the physical facilities of AGT and all of its subscribers are located solely in the province of Alberta.  I would agree that the situation in Lloydminster is not constitutionally significant (see Northern Telecom, 1980, supra, at p. 132) but I do not accept AGT's argument.

 

    This Court has clearly stated that the location of the physical apparatus in one province and the fact that all the recipients of a service are within a single province will not preclude a finding that an undertaking is interprovincial in scope.  In Capital Cities Communications Inc. v. Canadian Radio-Television Commission, [1978] 2 S.C.R. 141, (hereinafter Capital Cities) Laskin C.J. on behalf of the majority, rejected a similar argument made with respect to cable television companies (at p. 159):

 

The systems are clearly undertakings which reach out beyond the Province in which their physical apparatus is located; and, even more than in the Winner case, they each constitute a single undertaking which deals with the very signals which come to each of them from across the border and transmit those signals, albeit through a conversion process, through its cable system to subscribers.  [Emphasis added.]

 

    The point was made in Public Service Board v. Dionne, [1978] 2 S.C.R. 191 (hereinafter Dionne), that to focus the analysis on the location of the subscribers or the separate entity of the operating company of the service was to confuse the question.  Laskin C.J. stated on behalf of the majority at p. 197:

 

The fundamental question is not whether the service involved in cable distribution is limited to intraprovincial subscribers or that it is operated by a local concern but rather what the service consists of . . . .  In all these cases, the inquiry must be as to the service that is provided and not simply as to the means through which it is carried on.

 

    I am in agreement with Reed J. that AGT's argument places too much emphasis on the physical facilities employed by it to provide the interprovincial and international services it offers.  The primary concern is not the physical structures or their geographical location, but rather the service which is provided by the undertaking through the use of its physical equipment.  The fact that a company does not own or operate physical facilities outside a particular province does not mean that the company's undertaking is necessarily local in nature (see: R. v. Toronto Magistrates, Ex Parte Tank Truck Transport Ltd., [1960] O.R. 497, and R. v. Cooksville Magistrate's Court, Ex parte Liquid Cargo Lines Ltd., [1965] 1 O.R. 84, at p. 89, per Haines, J.)

 

    The involvement of AGT in the transmission and reception of electronic signals at the borders of Alberta indicate that AGT is operating an interprovincial undertaking.  I find the comment of Laskin C.J. in Capital Cities, cited earlier, to be fully applicable here.  In that case, with reference to the cable television systems the Chief Justice stated that the systems were "clearly undertakings which reach out beyond the Province in which their physical apparatus is located" (supra, at p. 159).  The analogy is apt as AGT's telecommunications system, taken as a whole, connects Alberta with the rest of Canada and with the United States, and other parts of the world.  It undoubtedly extends beyond the province of Alberta.

 

    AGT does not dispute that many of its services are interprovincial and international and it acknowledges the fact that its system is physically interconnected to the systems operated by carriers in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, the Northwest Territories and the United States.  As Reed J. noted, AGT's physical telecommunications facilities not only connect at the borders, there is also a more pervasive integration; the same telephone sets, line, exchanges and microwave networks are used for the provision of local and interprovincial services as well as international ones.  AGT takes the position, however, that the physical connections at the borders of Alberta are insufficient to mark AGT as an interprovincial, as opposed to a local, undertaking.

 

    This submission requires consideration of some early cases involving railways.  In Montreal Street Railway, supra, the Privy Council held that a purely local line connected to a railway which was under federal jurisdiction by virtue of a declaration under s. 92(10) (c) was not, by reason of that interconnection alone, also subject to federal jurisdiction.  It must be noted, however, that neither of the railway lines involved actually extended beyond the province or connected it to any other province.

 

    Montreal Street Railway was not cited by the Privy Council in Luscar Collieries, supra.  In that case a small coal branch line interconnected to the lines of Canadian National Railways and operated by Canadian National was found to be within federal jurisdiction.  The contractual arrangements between the parties involved allowed for unimpeded traffic flow between the two lines and, thus, the branch line, notwithstanding the fact that it was located entirely within the limits of the province, was found to be an interprovincial undertaking (see also the Go-Train case, supra.)

 

    Luscar Collieries, supra, was distinguished and Montreal Street Railway, supra, applied by this Court in British Columbia Electric Railway Co. v. Canadian National Railway Co., [1932] S.C.R. 161.  In this case one mile of the appellant's railway track connected to two other lines both of which were under federal control, one because of a declaration, and the other because it extended beyond the limits of the province.  It was held that the mere interconnection of a local line with a federal system will not, in the absence of some functional integration of the two lines, be sufficient to ground federal jurisdiction over the local line.

 

    In Kootenay & Elk Railway Co., supra, a majority of this Court held that the province of British Columbia had the power to incorporate a company whose proposed railway lines were to stop at one-quarter of an inch from the United States border.  The company was to deliver coal over its lines to a point north of the border where the coal would be taken over and carried by an American company for ultimate delivery in western British Columbia.  The Court indicated, however, that subsequent interconnection and operation might render the proposed line subject to federal regulation.  Martland J. (Abbott and Ritchie JJ. concurring) stated, at p. 980:

 

It may be ... that when the two lines are joined an overall undertaking of an international character will emerge.  But in my opinion that possibility did not preclude the British Columbia Legislature from authorizing the incorporation of a company to construct a railway line wholly situate within the borders of the province.  [Emphasis added.]

 

Martland J. added, at p. 982:

 

    In summary, my opinion is that a provincial legislature can authorize the construction of a railway line wholly situate within its provincial boundaries.  The fact that such a railway may subsequently, by reason of its interconnection with another railway and its operation, become subject to federal regulation does not affect the power of the provincial legislature to create it.  [Emphasis added.]

 

    This brief review of the jurisprudence shows therefore that mere interconnection of physical facilities in one province with those in a neighbouring province, territory or state may not be sufficient to attract the characterization of the undertaking involved as interprovincial in nature.

 

    It is clear, however, that in the instant case the facts demonstrate much more than mere physical interconnection of AGT's system at provincial borders.  It has been demonstrated that AGT is, through various commercial arrangements of a bilateral and multilateral nature, organized in a manner which enables it to play a crucial role in the national telecommunications system.  It is through the organizational mechanisms described earlier that AGT is able to provide to its local subscribers services of an interprovincial and international nature.

 

    The appellants argue that Reed J.'s analysis is flawed in that she first found that Telecom Canada is an interprovincial undertaking, then decided that AGT played an integral role in that organization and concluded from that fact that AGT was therefore also an interprovincial undertaking.  The appellants urge the Court not to lose sight of the fact that the issue is not whether Telecom Canada is subject to the regulatory authority of the CRTC, but rather whether AGT is.  It is asserted that the Court should not consider AGT's relationship with Telecom Canada which, AGT points out, is not a juridical person having its own business, citing the decision of the Ontario Court of Appeal in Canadian Pacific Ltd. v. Telesat Canada (1982), 36 O.R. (2d) 229, where it was held that the Telecom Canada Connecting Agreement was not a partnership.  Finally, the appellants submit that Telecom Canada is merely an amalgamation of its members, each of whom acts independently of the others and each of whom owns and operates its own system.

 

    I am of the view that AGT's submissions with respect to its relationship with Telecom Canada must fail.

 

    First of all, I do not agree that Reed J.'s result is predicated on the conclusion that AGT is interprovincial solely because of the integral role it plays in the Telecom Canada organization which is also interprovincial.  In my view, Reed J. found that AGT itself is operating an interprovincial undertaking and that it does so primarily through bilateral contracts, its role in Telecom Canada, and the physical interconnection of its system at the borders of Alberta.  I agree with that conclusion.  The fact that the Court is not here called upon to assess the constitutional character of Telecom Canada does not render the existence of Telecom Canada irrelevant to the analysis of AGT's enterprise.  The appellants would have the Court, in effect, ignore Telecom Canada and AGT's relationship to it.

 

    Underlying many of the arguments is an unjustified assumption that by choosing a particular corporate form the various players can control the determination of the constitutional issue.  This Court has made it clear in this area of constitutional law that the reality of the situation is determinative, not the commercial costume worn by the entities involved.  In Northern Telecom, 1980, supra, the following observation of the Chair of the British Columbia Labour Relations Board in Arrow Transfer Co., [1974] 1 Can. L.R.B.R. 29, at pp. 34-35, was approved at p. 133:

 

In each case the judgment is a functional, practical one about the factual character of the ongoing undertaking and does not turn on technical, legal niceties of the corporate structure or the employment relationship.

 

    After noting the variety of academic writing on the general issue of constitutional jurisdiction over telecommunications, the Court in Northern Telecom, 1980, made the following apposite statement, at p. 134:

 

    In the field of transportation and communication, it is evident that the niceties of corporate organization are not determinative.  As McNairn observes in his article, supra, at pp. 380-1:

 

A transportation or communication undertaking is a possible corporate activity but it may or may not be segregated from the total corporate enterprise or it may even be larger in scope than a single corporate enterprise.  To determine questions of this nature corporate objects have a certain relevance.  But of primary concern is the integration of the various corporate activities in practice (including the corporate organizations themselves if more than one is involved) and their inherent interdependence.  [Emphasis added.]

 

    While the above comments were made in a case where the issue was whether a particular subsidiary formed an essential part of an interprovincial telecommunications enterprise (Bell Canada), the underlying theory is fully applicable here.  Constitutional jurisdiction should not vary according to the corporate form involved.

 

    I have reached the conclusion that AGT's role and relationship with Telecom Canada is relevant to the decision on AGT's own constitutional character.  The facts are unequivocal that AGT is the mechanism through which the residents of Alberta send and receive interprovincial and international telecommunications services.  The services are provided through both corporate and physical arrangements which are marked by a high degree of cooperation.

 

    One essential vehicle employed by AGT to interprovincialize and internationalize its services is the Telecom Canada organization.  It is not necessary to attach a particular label to the legal relationship that exists between the members of Telecom Canada.  It is a form of a joint venture and is a necessary feature of AGT's overall undertaking.  I agree with Reed J. that AGT could not separate itself from Telecom Canada without significantly altering the fundamental nature of AGT's enterprise.

 

    AGT's relationship with Telecom also illustrates the role AGT plays in the provision of telecommunications services to Canadians as a whole.  The national telephone system exists in its present form largely as a result of the Telecom Canada arrangements.  AGT is a cooperative partner in this national system and this reinforces the conclusion that AGT is not operating a wholly local enterprise.

 

    I do not find the fact that the members of Telecom Canada own their respective "works" to be significant.  The separate ownership of works does not, in this case, take away from the degree of integration which exists between the member system and the level of cooperation and coordination which exists in the national telephone system; it does not make AGT's system less interprovincial and it does not make the Telecom Canada enterprise a mere loose association of interested parties.  Ownership itself is not conclusive (see: Northern Telecom, 1980, supra, at pp. 133-34; Dionne, supra, at p. 197; Hogg, at p. 490).

 

    A related argument was made by several of the interveners with reference to this Court's decision in Fulton v. Energy Resources Conservation Board, [1981] 1 S.C.R. 153 (hereinafter Fulton).  It was pointed out that AGT could not, on its own, provide the extraprovincial services and it was necessary to enter into cooperative agreements for that purpose.  It is asserted that, where an individual organization lacks the ability to effect, on its own, an interprovincial connection, that undertaking retains its local character.  This proposition stems from a particular passage in Fulton, supra.

 

    The issue in Fulton was whether the Alberta Energy Resources Conservation Board had jurisdiction to entertain an application by Calgary Power Ltd. for Board approval of the construction and operation of an electrical transmission line to a point near the British Columbia - Alberta border where the line would then connect with one to be built in British Columbia pursuant to an agreement between Calgary Power Ltd. and the B.C. Hydro and Power Authority.  The Court held that Calgary Power Ltd. was a local undertaking.  In the course of giving reasons on behalf of the Court, Laskin C.J. made the following statement, at p. 166:

 

    There are observations in the Privy Council's reasons in the Winner case, as at pp. 574-5 of [1954] A.C. 541, that suggest that an intention to operate interprovincially may be sufficient to take a work or undertaking outside of provincial regulatory authority or, if not intention alone, then by the taking of all necessary steps to interprovincial operation.  That may be so where the interprovincial operation is in the hands of one promoter, as was the case in Winner and also in Toronto v. Bell Telephone Co., supra,  cited in the Winner case, and which, however, turned on the presence of federal legislation.  Here, however, there is no single promoter who is in a position to effect on his own an interprovincial connection and, in my view, the proposed works in Alberta may properly be regarded as local works for the purposes of the application that was before the Energy Resources Conservation Board.

 

The argument is that since AGT is not a single promoter, it is not an interprovincial undertaking.

 

    It appears to me that those comments have been taken out of their context.  In my view they have no application to the present case.  The argument raised in Toronto v. Bell, supra, and Winner, supra, relates to the situation when the undertaking remains at the stage of a proposal.  The Privy Council in both cases rejected the submission that an undertaking has no existence until it is carried into effect (see: Winner, supra, at p. 575.)

 

    It will be recalled that in Fulton, supra, the construction had also not yet occurred.  This is manifestly not the situation in the present appeal.  We are not dealing with a proposal by a telephone company in one province for interconnection with the facilities of a telephone company in another province.

 

    I am also of the view that the decision in Fulton must be understood in relation to its particular facts and procedural history.  There were a number of factors in that appeal which distance that case from the present one.  First, there was no existing federal regulatory authority which covered the application.  Second, Calgary Power did not contest an exercise of federal authority, at least at the point of interconnection, if Parliament had chosen to act.  Third, the Alberta Board did not purport to exercise any regulatory authority over the relationship between the two companies involved under the agreement.

 

    Throughout the judgment, there is a sense that had the federal government wished to assert jurisdiction over the interconnection of electrical transmission lines at the British Columbia-Alberta border, it could have done so.  Laskin C.J., on behalf of the Court, stated, at p. 162:

 

Unexercised federal authority may give leeway to the exercise of provincial authority in relation to local works and undertakings, and that is how I assess the situation here.

 

    In any event, were I of the opinion that the criterion of a single promoter was essential, I would have no hesitation in viewing AGT and the other members of Telecom Canada as "single promoters" in that they act together, as one unit, through a form of joint venture to effect the various interprovincial connections which form the backbone of the Canadian telecommunications network.  To ignore the interdependence of the various members of Telecom Canada because of the separate corporate structures involved would be a sacrifice of substance to form and would advance no constitutional value.  I find no merit in the argument that AGT's involvement in the interprovincial flow of signals begins and ends at Alberta's border.  This is unrealistic in the same way that it was unrealistic to see cable television stations as distinct entities once the broadcast signal was received at their antennae.  AGT, in conjunction with the other members of Telecom, provides a physical framework for the provision of interprovincial and international telecommunications services.  It is AGT itself that provides the critical interconnection at Alberta's borders.

 

(c)Disposition of the Jurisdiction Issue

 

    I would accordingly affirm the conclusion of Reed J. that, on the basis of the facts as found by her, AGT is an interprovincial undertaking within the meaning of s. 92(10) (a) of the Constitution Act, 1867 .

 

    As the issue of jurisdiction may be disposed of on the basis of s. 92(10) (a), it is unnecessary to deal with the submissions regarding Peace, Order and good Government.

 

IV.  The Second Constitutional Question -- The Crown Immunity Issue

 

(a)The Federal Court Judgments

 

    (i)Federal Court, Trial Division -- Reed J.

 

    Despite finding that AGT fell within federal jurisdiction under s. 92(10) (a), Reed J. concluded that, by virtue of its status as an agent of the Crown in right of Alberta, AGT was not bound by the relevant provisions of the Railway Act, or subject to CRTC jurisdiction.  Reed J. relied upon the leading case of Her Majesty in right of the Province of Alberta v. Canadian Transport Commission, [1978] 1 S.C.R. 61, (hereinafter the PWA case) for the proposition that the provincial Crown is immune from federal legislation either by s. 16 of the Interpretation Act, R.S.C. 1970, c. I-23, or under the common law.  Reed J. found no express statement in the Railway Act binding a provincial Crown agent, and found nothing in the relevant statutory provisions to suggest that the provincial Crown agent should be bound by "necessary implication".

 

    Reed J. also rejected a submission that AGT had waived its right to immunity.  While AGT may have benefited from CRTC approval of TCTS agreements, it could not be said that AGT had submitted itself to the Railway Act in all its aspects.  AGT had never taken the initiative in seeking CRTC approval, nor had it been previously required to do so by the CRTC.  Therefore Reed J. concluded at p. 547, supra, that there was "no nexus between the waiver of immunity with respect to the TCTS agreements and the claim being made by CNCP (that AGT be ordered to provide it with interconnection)".

 

    Finally, Reed J. held that AGT did not lose its status as agent of the provincial Crown by engaging in interprovincial activities.  She found that since a provincial legislature can incorporate entities which operate in federally regulated fields, AGT did not lose its status as agent of the provincial Crown once its activities extended beyond the provision of local telecommunications services.  As a result, Reed J. held that the CRTC should be prohibited from proceeding with the application made to it by CNCP.

 

    (ii)Federal Court of Appeal -- Pratte J. (Heald and Urie JJ. concurring)

 

    Pratte J. came to the opposite conclusion on the Crown immunity issue.  He accepted CNCP's principal argument that AGT cannot claim the benefit of Crown immunity when operating an interprovincial work or undertaking under s. 92(10) (a) of the Constitution Act, 1867 , because by doing so it went outside the scope of the public purposes which it was statutorily empowered to pursue.  Pratte J. reviewed the relevant provisions of the Alberta Government Telephones Act and the Public Utilities Board Act and stated his conclusion as follows at p. 194, supra:

 

    It is apparent from those provisions that the legislature of Alberta, in creating AGT, intended that corporation to establish and maintain in the province a telecommunication system that would be regulated under the Public Utilities Board Act of the province.  As the only undertakings that may be regulated under that Act are those that are not described in paragraphs 92(10) (a),(b) and (c) of the Constitution Act, 1867 , it follows, in my view, that the legislature intended AGT to operate a local undertaking and that AGT, in operating a federal undertaking, stepped outside of the authority of the purposes for which it was created.  It cannot, therefore, invoke its status of a Crown agent so as to dodge the laws that are applicable to federal undertakings.

 

The order of Reed J. was, therefore, set aside and AGT's application for a writ of prohibition dismissed.

 

(b)The Applicability of s. 16 of the Interpretation Act, R.S.C. 1970, c. I-23, to the Provincial Crown

 

    It is apparent that, as a legal person within federal jurisdiction under s. 92(10) (a) of the Constitution Act, 1867 , AGT would fall within the regulatory authority of the CRTC, pursuant to the terms of ss. 5 and 320 of the Railway Act, if special rules relating to Crown immunity are not applicable in the present appeal.  However, AGT is an agent of the Crown in right of Alberta, by virtue of s. 42(1) of the Alberta Government Telephones Act which, as I have earlier noted, provides:

 

42(1) The commission is an agent of the Crown in right of Alberta and its powers may be exercised only as an agent of the Crown.

 

    Crown immunity, as developed in the United Kingdom under a unitary constitution encompassing only one Crown, raises new considerations when applied to a federal state.  Where legislative and executive roles are divided and confined to assigned jurisdictions, the following question must be answered:  does the presumption that the Crown ought not be bound by general words in legislation operate solely in favour of the Crown in right of the legislating government, or does it benefit the Crown in all its emanations, both federal and provincial?

 

    In the first session of the first Parliament of Canada, provision was made for Crown immunity from federal enactments (see An Act respecting the Statutes of Canada, S.C. 1867, c. 1, s. 7).   The original provision for immunity remained unaltered, in all material respects, until an amendment in the Interpretation Act, S.C. 1967-68, c. 7, and provided as follows:  (Interpretation Act, R.S.C. 1952, c. 158, s. 16):

 

    16. No provision or enactment in any Act affects, in any manner whatsoever, the rights of Her Majesty, her heirs or successors, unless it is expressly stated therein that Her Majesty is bound thereby.

 

    As a result of the 1967-68 amendment, s. 16  of the Interpretation Act  took on its present form:

 

    16. No enactment is binding on Her Majesty or affects Her Majesty or Her Majesty's rights or prerogatives in any manner, except only as therein mentioned or referred to.

 

    The issue, therefore, is whether the reference to "Her Majesty" in a statute enacted by Parliament to aid in the interpretation of other federal statutes is to be taken as referring only to the Crown in right of Canada or, as referring as well to the Crown in right of a province.  The definition of "Her Majesty" contained in s. 28  of the Interpretation Act, and made applicable to the interpretation of s. 16  by virtue of s. 3(2) of the same Act, adds little insight into whether it should encompass the Crown in right of a province.  Section 28  provides, in part:

 

    28.In every enactment

 

                                                                          . . .

 

"Her Majesty", "His Majesty", "the Queen", "the King" or "the Crown" means the Sovereign of the United Kingdom, Canada and Her other Realms and Territories, and Head of the Commonwealth;

 

"Her Majesty's Realms and Territories" means all realms and territories under the sovereignty of Her Majesty;

 

    In PWA, Laskin C.J. made the following observation regarding the definition of "Her Majesty" in s. 28, at pp. 70-71:

 

Although the definition above-quoted refers to "Canada", the reference is in the context of a recital, substantially, of the Royal Style and Titles, as prescribed by the Royal Style and Titles Act, R.S.C. 1970, c. R-12. I do not think that the definition itself establishes a limitation of the reference to "Her Majesty" as being a reference only to the Crown in right of Canada.  If it is so, it would be by reason of the constitutional organization of our federal system.  [Emphasis added.]

 

    Laskin C.J. concluded as follows, at pp. 75-76:

 

    In the present case, I find it unnecessary to come to any conclusion on whether the definition of "Her Majesty" in s. 28 of the federal Interpretation Act  should be limited, for constitutional reasons, to the Crown in right of Canada.  I am content to proceed on the traditional view that it covers the Crown in whatever aspect its subjection to federal legislation arises.  [Emphasis added.]

 

While Laskin, C.J. chose not to decide the precise nature of the scope of s. 16 , the Court did hold that the provincial Crown agent, in that case PWA, was not bound by the federal legislation at issue.  Although the precise basis for the immunity of the provincial Crown agent is less than clear in PWA, the case does clearly hold that immunity exists (at p. 76):

 

In my view, the Alberta Government, if not entitled to the shelter provided by s. 16 of the federal Interpretation Act , is entitled to rely on the common law . . . .

 

The Anglo-Canadian authorities which have considered this issue appear to have proceeded on the assumption that immunity is not limited to the Crown in right Canada: apart from PWA, supra, see, for example, In re Silver Bros., Ld., [1932] A.C. 514, and the Go-Train case.  More recently, this Court handed down judgment in Sparling v. Quebec (Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec), [1988] 2 S.C.R. 1015 (hereinafter Sparling v. Quebec), in which the applicability of s. 16  to a provincial Crown agent was taken for granted but not explicitly discussed.

 

    While none of these cases has considered in any depth the rationale for the assumption that statutory immunity from federal laws extends to the Crown in right of a province, it remains that this view has the support of a consistent and considerable body of case-law.  I am not persuaded that it would be appropriate to depart from that line of authority in this case.  Indeed, there is much to be said in favour of this interpretation.

 

    Commenting on PWA, supra, Colin McNairn in "Comment" (1978), 56 Can. Bar Rev. 145, at p. 150, succinctly describes the reasons which justify each level of government possessing some measure of freedom of action even if within the other level's legislative sphere:

 

In a federal system it makes some sense to put the onus on a legislature to specially include the other level of government within its enactments if they are to so extend in a restrictive way.  This preserves a degree of freedom to the various political units within the federation that is consistent with their mutual independence.  This last consideration leads to a very different conclusion as to the appropriate meaning of the expressions "Crown" and "Her Majesty" as they may appear in statutory provisions establishing a general immunity or a particular exemption for that entity.  These terms, in that context, may properly be taken to include the other level of government having in mind that the federal arrangement pre-supposes a substantial degree of independence between the provinces and the central authority.

 

Notwithstanding the concern expressed by Laskin C.J. in PWA, supra, that applying s. 16  to the provincial Crown might be inconsistent with the concept of divisibility, Laskin C.J. relied in part on a very similar rationale to that set out by McNairn for finding that the common law accorded immunity to the provincial Crowns from federal legislation (at p. 76):

 

Why, it may be asked, should that rule, developed in unitary England, apply at all in a federal state?  There are, in my opinion, two answers.  First, if the Crown in right of a Province was unable to rely on its immunity, unless bound expressly or by necessary implication, automatic subordination of a provincial Government to federal legislation would result, and this would offend the mutually independent positions of the Crown in right of Canada and in right of a Province which obtain under our constitutional arrangements in the absence of valid legislation to the contrary.  Second, the common law rule as part of what I may call Crown law is an historic principle that was part of the law of this country from its beginning; and it remained part of our law under the federal structure brought into force in 1867, both for the advantage of the Crown in right of Canada and of the Crown in right of a Province.

 

The very same reasoning may be called on in support of the interpretation consistently given by the courts that s. 16 , no less than the common law, covers both levels of government.  In my view, a case has not been made for departing from the view previously taken by this Court and by the Privy Council that the general reference to "Her Majesty" in s. 16  of the Interpretation Act  embraces the Crown in right of a province as well as the Crown in right of Canada.

 

    In "Federalism and Provincial Government Immunity" (1979), 29 U. of T. Law Journal 1, Professor Katherine Swinton has taken the argument that there are compelling reasons for shielding provincial Crown agents from the application of federal statutes even further.  Professor Swinton advocates the use of a balancing test that goes beyond standard division of powers analysis: see especially at p. 19.  She contended that the courts should weigh provincial interests against national interests in order to determine when provincial immunity should be accorded from federal laws.  In her view, even if Parliament has legitimately acted within its legislative competence, provincial interests in the public policy role of its Crown agent may be strong enough to justify the courts in according immunity from otherwise applicable laws.  Accordingly, Professor Swinton argues for a form of constitutional immunity, and suggests that s. 16  should be interpreted so that the provincial Crown is neither totally included nor totally excluded.  In her view, s. 16  should be interpreted differently according to whether, in given circumstances, Parliament could subject a provincial agent to its laws after the relevant interests are balanced; see p. 35, supra.

 

    In my view, it would be wrong to accept a theory of constitutional inter-governmental immunity.  If Parliament has the legislative power to legislate or regulate in an area, emanations of the provincial Crown should be bound if Parliament so chooses.  I agree with the observation of Laskin C.J. in PWA, supra, at p. 72:

 

It is, of course, open to the federal Parliament to embrace the provincial Crown in its competent legislation if it chooses to do so . . . .

 

    It should be remembered that one aspect of the pith and substance doctrine is that a law in relation to a matter within the competence of one level of government may validly affect a matter within the competence of the other.  Canadian federalism has evolved in a way which tolerates overlapping federal and provincial legislation in many respects, and in my view a constitutional immunity doctrine is neither desirable nor necessary to accommodate valid provincial objectives.

 

(c)Is the Railway Act Binding on the Crown?

 

    The Railway Act cannot bind AGT except to the extent the provincial Crown is "mentioned or referred to" in the enactment.  Can it be said that the provincial Crown has been "mentioned or referred to" in the relevant provisions of the Railway Act?  The respondents argued before this Court that ss. 320 and 5 of the Railway Act indicate a Parliamentary intention to bind the Crown. Section 320(12) gives the CRTC jurisdiction over

 

320. ...

 

    (12) ... all companies as in this section defined, and to all telegraph and telephone systems, lines and business of such companies within the legislative authority of the Parliament of Canada; ...

 

"Company" is defined in s. 320(1):

 

320.(1)  In this section

 

"company" means a railway company or person authorized to construct or operate a railway, having authority to construct or operate a telegraph or telephone system or line, and to charge telegraph or telephone tolls, and includes also telegraph and telephone companies and every company and person within the legislative authority of the Parliament of Canada having power to construct or operate a telegraph or telephone system or line and to charge telegraph or telephone tolls;  [Emphasis added.]

 

    Finally s. 5 provides as follows:

 

    5.  Subject as herein provided, this Act applies to all persons, railway companies and railways, within the legislative authority of the Parliament of Canada, whether heretofore or hereafter, and howsoever, incorporated or authorized, except Government railways, to which however it applies to such extent as is specified in any Act referring or relating thereto. [Emphasis added.]

 

    The respondent submitted that the exception of "Government railways" in s. 5 would have been unnecessary if the word "persons" did not include the Crown.  I am in agreement with Reed J. and with the Federal Court of Appeal that these provisions do not purport to bind AGT expressly as agent of the Crown in right of Alberta.

 

    As noted earlier, s. 16  of the Interpretation Act  was amended in 1967-68.  The earlier version required that it be "expressly stated" that the Crown is to be bound.  The newly substituted version provides that a Crown will not be bound by statute "except only as therein mentioned or referred to".  At issue here is the explicitness required by the new wording of s. 16  to bind the Crown.

 

    The common law rule was set out by Lord du Parcq for the Privy Council in Province of Bombay v. City of Bombay, [1947] A.C. 58 (P.C.), at p. 61 (hereinafter Bombay):

 

The general principle to be applied in considering whether or not the Crown is bound by general words in a statute is not in doubt.  The maxim of the law in early times was that no statute bound the Crown unless the Crown was expressly named therein .... But the rule so laid down is subject to at least one exception.  The Crown may be bound, as has often been said, "by necessary implication".  If, that is to say, it is manifest from the very terms of the statute, that it was the intention of the legislature that the Crown should be bound, then the result is the same as if the Crown had been expressly named.  It must then be inferred that the Crown, by assenting to the law, agreed to be bound by its provisions.  [Emphasis added.]

 

Lord du Parcq then sets out the "wholly frustrated" test as follows, at p. 63:

 

Their Lordships prefer to say that the apparent purpose of the statute is one element, and may be an important element, to be considered when an intention to bind the Crown is alleged.  If it can be affirmed that, at the time when the statute was passed and received the royal sanction, it was apparent from its terms that its beneficent purpose must be wholly frustrated unless the Crown were bound, then it may be inferred that the Crown has agreed to be bound.  Their Lordships will add that when the court is asked to draw this inference, it must always be remembered that, if it be the intention of the legislature that the Crown shall be bound, nothing is easier than to say so in plain words.  [Emphasis added.]

 

    The Privy Council made clear that any exception to the normal Crown immunity rule based on a necessary implication should be narrowly confined.  As a result, an intention to bind the Crown is not to be inferred merely from the fact that the provisions of a statute will not operate smoothly or efficiently if the Crown is not bound, nor from the fact that if the Crown is not bound the statute will have only a limited application.  To what extent is a "necessary implication" exception part of the current s. 16 ?

 

    This Court has addressed the meaning of s. 16  in three recent cases: PWA, supra, R. v. Ouellette, [1980] 1 S.C.R. 568 (hereinafter Ouellette), and R. v. Eldorado Nuclear Ltd., [1983] 2 S.C.R. 551 (hereinafter Eldorado).  In PWA and in Eldorado, the Court took the view that the necessary implication exception is not part of s. 16 , while in Ouellette, the Court seems to have applied a form of necessary implication test. 

 

    In PWA, supra, the relevant provisions of the Aeronautics Act, R.S.C. 1970, c. A-3, did not specifically purport to bind the Crown.  The issue thus raised was whether the Alberta government (Pacific Western Airlines being a Crown agent) was a "person" embraced by the general wording and application of the legislation.  Writing for a majority of the Court, Laskin C.J. held that the Alberta government was immune from the Air Carrier Regulations.  Laskin C.J. rejected the argument that s. 16  should be interpreted consistently with the Bombay common law doctrine of necessary implication, at p. 75:

 

I am unable to agree with the conclusion of the Federal Court of Appeal that the substitution of the words "except only as therein mentioned or referred to" for the words "unless it is expressly stated therein that Her Majesty shall be bound" restores "necessary implication".  It seems to me, on the contrary, that "necessary implication" is excluded if it is necessary that the Crown be mentioned or referred to in legislation before it becomes binding on the Crown.

 

Laskin C.J. stated that, in his view, the new s. 16  offered the Crown more protection than did the old:

 

. . . the present s. 16  . . . goes farther than the superseded provision to protect the Crown from subjection to legislation in which it is not clearly mentioned.  Whereas the [old s. 16 ] . . . spoke only of affecting the rights of the Crown . . . . the present s. 16  goes beyond "rights" alone and is express that, in addition, "no enactment is binding on Her Majesty or affects Her Majesty . . . except only as therein mentioned or referred to."

 

Because of the expansion of the scope of protection of the Crown, it would seem that Laskin C.J. felt that it would be inconsistent to water down that protection by reading in the "necessary implication" exception.

 

    In Eldorado, supra, the Court stated, at pp. 558-62, that s. 16  of the Interpretation Act  requires an express provision to make a federal statute binding on the Crown:

 

    Parliament has followed the lead of the common law, and taken the development one step further.  Section 16  of the Interpretation Act  removes even the necessary implication exception . . . .

 

                                                                           ...

 

The Court must give effect to the statutory direction that the Crown is not bound unless it is "mentioned or referred to" in the enactment.

                                                                           ...

 

Section 16  of the Interpretation Act  requires an express provision to make an act binding on the Crown.

 

                                                                           ...

 

By providing that "no enactment is binding on Her Majesty ... except only as therein mentioned or referred to", Parliament has put the state, commonly referred to as the Crown, beyond the reach of Acts of Parliament that are not expressly made applicable to the Crown.  [Emphasis added.]

 

It is to be noted that this Court did not consider the decision of Ouellette, supra, in its written reasons in Eldorado, but, in my view, the correctness of the interpretation and application of s. 16  to the facts of Ouellette is not in doubt.  At issue in Ouellette was whether a Superior Court sitting in appeal from a judgment of a summary conviction court and a Court of Appeal sitting in appeal from the Superior Court could order the Crown to pay costs.  This Court considered that the Crown could be bound as a matter of statutory interpretation.  Beetz J. considered the effect of the 1967 amendment on s. 16  in the following terms, at pp. 574-75:

 

    In any case, the question can be resolved solely on the basis of the relevant provisions of the Criminal Code .  However, it should first be noted that s. 16  of the Interpretation Act , cited above, no longer includes the word "expressly" as it did formerly.  This section does not exclude the rule by which the various provisions of a statute are each interpreted in light of the others, and it is possible that Her Majesty be implicitly bound by legislation if that is the interpretation which the legislation must be given when it is placed in its context.  In my view, this is the interpretation that must be given to ss. 758  and 771(3)  of the Criminal Code , when they are read not in isolation but in the context of Part XXIV on summary convictions.  [Emphasis added.]

 

The two sections at issue, ss. 758  and 771(3) , each provided in general terms for the respective courts to make an order for costs.  Beetz J. read the two sections in the context of all of Part XXIV on summary convictions, including the fact that it was clear that the term "appellant" (against whom costs could be ordered) included the Attorney General.  However, Beetz J. also plainly felt that each section would be virtually meaningless if only the accused, and not the Crown, could be ordered to pay costs.  In addition, Parliament's intention to include the Attorney General was highlighted by the fact that the Attorney General was expressly excluded in at least one kind of situation.  Therefore, despite the lack of an express statement binding the Crown, the Court in Ouellette unanimously found that in that particular statutory context, there was mention of or reference to "Her Majesty".

 

    Section 16  requires a clear Parliamentary expression of an intention to bind the Crown.  This does not necessarily require that a federal enactment requires a section stating "This Act shall bind Her Majesty" (although such a provision, as a matter of legislative drafting, would put the issue beyond doubt).

 

    Indeed, the passage quoted above from Eldorado must be read in light of the arguments presented in that case.  The Court explicitly noted that the Attorney General was not arguing the necessary implication doctrine: see p. 558, supra.  In Eldorado, two different arguments were made that the definition of "every one" in s. 2  of the Criminal Code  (which includes "Her Majesty") had been incorporated into the Combines Investigation Act, R.S.C. 1970, c. C-23.  The Court found that one argument for inferential incorporation relied on "far too vague and oblique a reference to have the effect for which the Attorney General contends" (p. 560) and that the other argument relied on a provision of the Interpretation Act, s. 27(2) , which would produce a "directly contrary" result to s. 16 of the same Act.  However, despite the failure of the particular arguments in that case, the Court was willing to accept that one Act could be read in the context of wording in another Act -- if the language of the former Act was sufficiently clear to justify this.

 

    Similarly, a statute the primary purpose of which is to protect citizens from governmental actions, though not expressly made binding upon the Crown, would normally be taken to have "mentioned or referred to" Her Majesty as being bound on the basis of a contextual interpretation:  see Hogg, Constitutional Law of Canada, 2nd ed., at p. 234.  As an interpretative provision, s. 16  ought not to be construed as an overbroad extension of state immunity, particularly in light of s. 3(1)  of the Interpretation Act  which states:

 

    3. (1) Every provision of this Act extends and applies, unless a contrary intention appears, to every enactment, whether enacted before or after the commencement of this Act.

 

    In my view, in light of PWA and Eldorado, the scope of the words "mentioned or referred to" must be given an interpretation independent of the supplanted common law.  However, the qualifications in Bombay, supra, are based on sound principles of interpretation which have not entirely disappeared over time.  It seems to me that the words "mentioned or referred to" in s. 16  are capable of encompassing (1) expressly binding words ("Her Majesty is bound"), (2) a clear intention to bind which, in Bombay terminology, "is manifest from the very terms of the statute", in other words, an intention revealed when provisions are read in the context of other textual provisions, as in Ouellette, supra, and, (3) an intention to bind where the purpose of the statute would be "wholly frustrated" if the government were not bound, or, in other words, if an absurdity (as opposed to simply an undesirable result) were produced.  These three points should provide a guideline for when a statute has clearly conveyed an intention to bind the Crown.

 

    Applying this standard to the present case, it is my view that the federal legislation at issue here does not "mention or refer to" the Crown as being bound thereto.  Sections 320 and 5 of the Railway Act do not contain expressly binding words.  There is nothing in the context of these provisions to indicate a clear Parliamentary intention to bind the Crown.  The grant of jurisdiction to the CRTC in s. 320 of the Railway Act has a self-contained definition of "company", referring only in a general way to a "person authorized to ... operate a ... telephone system".  It is precisely such general provisions against which s. 16  protects the Crown.  In both ss. 320 and 5, the words "within the legislative authority of the Parliament of Canada" add no specificity and are in fact superfluous as nothing but a constitutional precondition for application of the Railway Act.

 

    Furthermore, whether the exemption of "Government railways" from s. 5 exists out of an abundance of caution as Pratte J. held for the Federal Court of Appeal, as a matter of historical antecedent as held by Reed J. at trial, or otherwise, it does not provide a sufficiently clear reference to any Parliamentary intention to bind the Crown within the meaning of the general word "person" in s. 5.  The fact that both of the explanations offered by Pratte J. and Reed J. are equally plausible is evidence enough of a failure to convey an intention to bind the Crown.  As for the ex abundanti cautela view, I would simply note that it has support in the reasons of Laskin C.J. in PWA, supra, at p. 68, in which he discounted the significance of an exemption of military aircraft in determining whether Crown-owned civilian airlines were bound by the Aeronautics Act .  With regard to Reed J.'s view of the matter, she stated at p. 544, supra, that it was reasonable to assume that "Government railways" were originally excluded because they were already regulated by the The Government Railways Act, R.S.C. 1886, c. 38, and then noted that that Act was still in force as R.S.C. 1970, c. G-11 (now R.S.C., 1985, c. G-7).  Assuming the correctness of this supposition, I, like Reed J., fail to see how specific exemption of Government railways from the Act, either at a time when Crown-owned telecommunications carriers did not exist or at present, can yield the necessary clear intention that Government telecommunications carriers are bound by the Railway Act, especially as it is s. 320(1), not s. 5, that explicitly addresses the applicability of the Act to telecommunications carriers, as opposed to railways.  The exemption of Government railways is as consistent with a complete absence of contemplation of whether Government telecommunications carriers are bound as it is with an intention that they be bound.  To hold that this exception is sufficient to bind the Crown would be to do so in the face of a considerable doubt, inconsistent with a clear expression of intention.

 

    The fact that granting immunity will produce a regulatory vacuum with respect to AGT is insufficient and does not amount to a frustration of the Railway Act as a whole.  While granting immunity unless and until Parliament chooses to amend the legislation will produce a gap in potential coverage of the Railway Act, the Act can continue to function just as it did prior to this Court's finding that AGT is a federal undertaking.

 

(d)Has AGT Lost its Entitlement to Crown Immunity by Virtue of its Conduct?

 

    It was submitted before this Court that even if AGT is prima facie entitled to Crown immunity under s. 16  of the Interpretation Act , it has by its conduct waived that immunity.  Two aspects of this submission must be considered.  First, it was contended that AGT waives its immunity from the burdens of the Railway Act where it seeks to rely upon the benefits derived therefrom.  Second, it was submitted that AGT loses its immunity when it acted for purposes outside its statutory mandate by operating a federal work or undertaking.  A third possibility, a commercial operations exception, will also be considered.

 

    (i)Did AGT Lose Its Immunity by Virtue of the Doctrine of Waiver?

 

    At common law it is well-established that, although not bound by a statute, the Crown may take advantage of its provisions unless there is an express or implied prohibition from doing so (Halsbury's Laws of England, 4th ed., vol. 44, para. 931 and see the Crown Proceedings Act, 1947 (U.K.), 10 & 11 Geo. 6, c. 44, s. 31(1)).  The presumption of immunity only applies when the statutory provisions, if applied to the Crown, would operate to its prejudice: Hogg, Liability of the Crown, at p. 181.  However there is also authority for the view that the Crown is not entitled to take the benefit of statutory rights free from any restrictions imposed by the statute.  In Crooke's Case (1691), 1 Show. K.B. 208, 89 E.R. 540, the Court appears to have adopted for its judgment the following argument of counsel, at pp. 210-11 Show. K.B., p. 542 E.R.:

 

    The King takes a benefit by this clause; it is plain that he is bound, for otherwise he could not have any presentment to this church aforesaid at all; and if he take he must take it under the modes and qualifications that the Act gives it him . . . . it seems very hard to say, that the King is not bound, because not included, because not named, and yet he shall be included as to benefit.  If they have any right, the King can only have it by this Act of Parliament, and then they must have it as this Act of Parliament gives it.

 

    The waiver doctrine has been applied by this Court at least twice, without explicit discussion of the doctrine (Toronto Transportation Commission v. The King, [1949] S.C.R. 510, (hereinafter Toronto Transportation Commission), and R. v. Murray, [1967] S.C.R. 262 (hereinafter Murray)) and endorsed in obiter in one case (PWA, supra).  Most recently, the doctrine has been expressly approved and elaborated in Sparling v. Quebec, at pp. 1021 et seq.

 

    In Toronto Transportation Commission, the federal Crown, having no actionable claim at common law, relied on a provincial statute in order to claim third party damages arising from an accident in which it was involved.  This Court held that the Crown's claim was limited to the proportion of the damage which the statute authorized it to claim.  The Crown "could claim only on the basis of the law applicable as between subject and subject unless something different in the general law relating to the matter is made applicable to the Crown" (at p. 515).  Murray, supra, held that the federal Crown was bound by a contributory negligence provision in one Act by virtue of bringing an action in negligence (for loss of services of an armed forces member), an action which the Crown only had by virtue of a provision in a second Act; thus, in that case, taking a benefit under one statute entailed assuming a burden under another.  There is some ambiguity in Murray, and indeed in Toronto Transportation Commission, as to whether the Court was saying that the Crown was not immune because inherent or prerogative rights of the Crown were not affected (and therefore that Crown immunity was not engaged in the first place according to the version of s. 16  in force at the time) or, rather, saying that the Crown must take the burden of statutes if it wishes to take the benefit.  Like La Forest J. in Sparling v. Quebec, supra, especially at p. 1027, I take these cases, along with Gartland Steamship Co. v. The Queen, [1960] S.C.R. 315 (hereinafter Gartland Steamship), at p. 345, which is relied upon in Murray, supra, at p. 267, as examples of waiver by the Crown of any immunity by virtue of the fact that it has brought an action in damages to which certain limitations attach.  To the extent that the Court in Murray and Gartland Steamship used language to suggest that the legislation had not sought to impose a liability on the Crown nor had the legislation derogated from prerogative rights, I read those statements as being premised on, not inconsistent with, the very fact that a benefit (e.g., the right to bring an action) could not be taken without accepting concomitant burdens:  in effect, rights were not affected because the Crown was bringing the claim.  If the legislation had sought to impose liability independent of the benefit, the implication is that the Crown's rights might well have been affected and immunity would have attached.  I should also note that the Go-Train case, supra, very clearly based its finding of no Crown immunity on the basis of an interpretation of the old s. 16  of the Interpretation Act  according to which accrued rights of Her Majesty could not be affected, unless expressly provided for.  However, even in that case, it is arguable that the determination that no protected rights were affected is implicitly grounded in a benefits/burden rationale as revealed by the statement at p. 124 that "Such rights as Ontario has are derived either from such agreement or from the Railway Act and therefore are subject to the conditions prescribed in that Act, one of these being that tolls are within the jurisdiction of the Board of Transport Commissioners".  Finally, the waiver doctrine was also held to exist by Laskin C.J. in PWA, supra, at pp. 72-73 in the following terms:

 

... a Provincial Legislature cannot in the valid exercise of its legislative power, embrace the Crown in right of Canada in any compulsory regulation.  This does not mean that the federal Crown may not find itself subject to provincial legislation where it seeks to take the benefit thereof; see Toronto Transportation Commission v. The King; The Queen v. Murray.

 

I would note that it is not necessary in this appeal to discuss the merits of a putative doctrine of constitutional immunity of the federal Crown.

 

    Sparling v. Quebec, supra, is the first case to apply the waiver doctrine in the context of the new s. 16  and to elaborate unambiguously and authoritatively the availability of the doctrine.  La Forest J. found that the Caisse de dépot et placement du Québec (an agent of the Quebec Crown) could not invoke s. 16  in order to fend off the application to it of the insider trader reporting obligations of the Canada Business Corporations Act , S.C. 1974-75-76, c. 33 (hereinafter CBCA).  The Caisse had purchased over 10 per cent of the shares in a federal company which made it an insider within the terms of ss. 121 and 122 of the CBCA.  The Caisse did not affirmatively seek to take advantage of a provision of the CBCA or any other federal statute, but La Forest J. found that the very act of purchasing a share constituted an implicit acceptance of the benefits of the CBCA regime.  A share in a federal corporation has no meaning absent the CBCA and the comprehensive bundle of rights and liabilities created by the CBCA.  All of the benefits of share ownership being indissolubly linked to the concomitant restrictions, the Caisse was bound by the burden of submitting an insider's report.

 

    Peter Hogg in Liability of the Crown, supra, summarizes the waiver doctrine this way, at p. 183:

 

    The restrictions [on a statutory right] are regarded as restrictions on the right itself, and if the Crown could disregard them it would receive a larger right than the statute actually conferred.  In other words all of the statutory provisions affecting a right to which the Crown claims title are interpreted as if they were advantageous to the Crown on the ground that the net result is (by hypothesis, since the Crown chooses to rely on the statutory right) advantageous to the Crown:  there is no room for the rule requiring express words or necessary implication.  [Emphasis in original.]

 

Colin McNairn, in Governmental and Intergovernmental Immunity in Australia and Canada (1977), reaches the same conclusion at p. 10:

 

    By taking advantage of legislation the crown will be treated as having assumed the attendant burdens, though the legislation has not been made to bind the crown expressly or by necessary implication.  The force of the rule of immunity is avoided by the particular conduct of the crown and the integrity of the relevant statutory provisions, beneficial and prejudicial.

 

    Can it be said that AGT has sought to take advantage of the benefits of federal regulation of telecommunications under the Railway Act independent of and divorced from the attendant burdens in such a way that it has waived its immunity and submitted to CRTC jurisdiction?  Reed J. concluded that the nexus was insufficient in this case to find that AGT had waived its Crown immunity.  Reed J. was correct to apply a nexus test.  As La Forest J. stated in Sparling v. Quebec, supra, at p. 1025:

 

    It is quite correct to conclude that whenever the question of the application of the benefit/burden exception arises, the issue is not whether the benefit and burden arise under the same statute, but whether there exists a sufficient nexus between the benefit and burden.  As McNairn, op. cit., at p. 11, puts it:

 

    It is not essential . . . that the benefit and the restriction upon it occur in one and the same statute for the notion of Crown submission to operate.  Rather, the crucial question is whether the two elements are sufficiently related so that the benefit must have been intended to be conditional upon compliance with the restriction.  [Emphasis added.]

 

    The AGT Act provides the corporation with the capacity and powers to participate in the advantages of an integrated and federally regulated telecommunications network in the course of performing its telecommunications service to local subscribers.  Section 24 of the AGT Act, repeated here for ease of reference, provides:

 

24  The commission may enter into an agreement with any person providing for the connection, intercommunication, joint operation, reciprocal use or transmission of business between any systems owned or operated by the parties thereto and for any consequent division of receipts, expenditures or profits or any financial or other adjustments that may be advisable or necessary for the purposes of the agreement.

 

As a result of such powers, AGT entered into the TCTS (Telecom) agreement, some members of which are federally regulated.  Many of the agreements entered into by TCTS are subject to federal approval but AGT has never, on its own, sought approval of any of the TCTS agreements.  AGT in effect submits that it is entitled to all the advantages of an integrated interprovincial and international telecommunications network free of any binding federal regulation.  Is there a sufficient nexus between the advantages AGT gains from a federally regulated system and the requirement to submit to CRTC jurisdiction?  One example of a link between AGT and federal administration occurred when the CRTC approved a series of agreements between Canadian National Railways (which is clearly subject to the federal regulation), as operator of telecommunications in the Northwest Territories and the Yukon, and AGT.  Although the CNR, and not AGT, applied for federal approval, without such approval the agreement was not legally possible.  In another situation, AGT petitioned the Governor in Council directly, seeking to overturn a CRTC refusal to approve TCTS rate changes.

 

    The benefits derived under the Railway Act by AGT are of a general nature resulting from its participation in the TCTS agreements.  This is not a case where AGT relies or has relied on the Railway Act for certain advantages and then argues that limitations placed upon those advantages by the legislation do not apply to the Crown.  As stated above, at common law the Crown can gain advantages from a statute without necessarily waiving its immunity therefrom.  Waiver only occurs where the Crown takes the benefit of a statute divorced from its enumerated restrictions.  Sparling v. Quebec, supra, makes clear that the Crown need not specifically rely on benefit-conferring legislation to be bound by related burdens, but none of AGT's actions through TCTS can be seen as an implied general submission to the entire statutory regime of benefits and burdens.  Sparling v. Quebec, supra, at p. 1027 stressed that "Application of the benefit/burden exception does not result in subsuming the Crown under any and every regulatory scheme that happens to govern a particular state of affairs."  AGT has done nothing to attract the broad sweep of the Railway Act analogous to the purchase of a share which has a specific nexus to the CBCA regime.  There is no evidence that AGT relies now, or has relied in the past, on particular benefits of the Railway Act or of CRTC regulation to which interconnection with CNCP is an attendant burden.

 

    CNCP is neither a member of the TCTS agreement, nor is it requesting an interconnection pursuant to an existing agreement between it and AGT.  Therefore, I agree with the view of Reed J. at trial, that the advantages obtained by AGT under the Railway Act are insufficient to link it to CRTC jurisdiction under the theory of waiver of Crown immunity.  I would adopt the following conclusion by Reed J., at p. 547:

 

There is no nexus between the waiver of immunity with respect to the TCTS agreements and the claim being made by CNCP (that AGT be ordered to provide it with interconnection).  AGT can be taken to have waived immunity with respect to burdens related to the operation of TCTS and other agreements.  Thus, if CNCP were a member of TCTS, it would be a different matter; or, if the requested interconnection related to an existing AGT/CNCP agreement, one could see a sufficient nexus.  But I think it stretches the waiver doctrine too far to hold that AGT by its participation in the benefit of the TCTS agreements, has submitted itself to the general jurisdiction of the CRTC.

 

    This conclusion regarding the applicability of the benefit-burden exception might clash with our sense of basic fairness.  It may seem, at first blush, inappropriate that AGT can so arrange its affairs as to take certain benefits of the CRTC-regulated system, but avoid other burdens of CRTC regulation.  However, this concern is in effect simply a way of questioning the Crown immunity doctrine itself.  As I said in Eldorado, supra, at p. 558:

 

It [the doctrine of Crown immunity] seems to conflict with basic notions of equality before the law.  The more active government becomes in activities that had once been considered the preserve of private persons, the less easy it is to understand why the Crown need be, or ought to be, in a position different from the subject.  This Court is not, however, entitled to question the basic concept of Crown immunity, for Parliament has unequivocally adopted the premise that the Crown is prima facie immune.  The Court must give effect to the statutory direction that the Crown is not bound unless it is "mentioned or referred to" in the enactment.

 

    Sparling v. Quebec, supra, set out a test requiring a fairly close nexus between benefit and burden.  Quite apart from its precedential weight, this is in keeping with the very nature of the Crown immunity doctrine.  In my view, the scope of the benefit/burden exception must be fashioned using the underlying docrine as a reference point.  Because of the necessarily deferential approach the courts must take on questions of Crown immunity, given s. 16  and the test laid out earlier in this judgment for what it takes to mention or refer to the Crown, it would be inconsistent with the presumption of immunity to carve out a wide-ranging exception to the presumption.  An exception cannot swallow a rule, which is, it seems to me, what must happen if the benefit/burden doctrine were broadened such that the Crown would be bound by all of the burdens of a regulatory statute no matter how unrelated to the benefits gained by the Crown from that statute.  In other words, a fairly tight (sufficient nexus) test for the benefit/burden exception follows from the strict test for finding a legislative intention to bind the Crown.  A broad benefit/burden test would be overly legislative in the face of the current formulation of s. 16 .  Regretfully perhaps, but indeniably, the statutory Crown immunity doctrine does not lend itself to imaginative exceptions to the doctrine, however much such exceptions may conform to our intuitive sense of fairness.

 

    (ii)Did AGT Lose Its Immunity By Exceeding Its Statutory Mandate or Crown Purposes?

 

    The second aspect of the respondents' submissions on loss of immunity is that the Alberta legislature, by establishing the statutory mandate of AGT as an agent of the Crown, intended that AGT would engage only in an undertaking which would be subject to provincial regulatory authority.  Once it became an interprovincial work or undertaking under s. 92(10) (a) of the Constitution Act, 1867 , it was argued, AGT went beyond that mandate and no longer acted as agent of the Crown.  As I understand it, it is not claimed that operating a federal undertaking automatically deprives the provincial Crown of immunity but that, as a matter of statutory interpretation, AGT exceeded its statutory purposes and therefore lost its immunity.

 

    The respondents and the Attorney General of Canada did not take the position that the Alberta Legislature lacked constitutional jurisdiction to create a corporation with powers the exercise of which might ultimately render the corporation subject to federal legislation.  Nor was the constitutionality of the provisions in the AGT Act granting the corporation the powers to enter into interconnecting agreements questioned.  A provincial Crown corporation, once validly established, can attract rights, including immunity status, from other legislatures, whether they be federal or provincial:  Bonanza Creek Gold Mining Co. v. The King, [1916] 1 A.C. 566 (P.C.)  Therefore, AGT can legitimately attract additional extra-provincial powers and rights (for instance by entering into interprovincial agreements, as in this case) without necessarily stepping outside its legislative mandate.  (See W. R. Lederman, "Telecommunications and the Federal Constitution of Canada", in H. Edward English, ed., Telecommunications for Canada:  An Interface of Business and Government, at p. 348, and Hogg, Constitutional Law of Canada, 2nd ed., at pp. 511-19).

 

    By entering into a federally-regulated area by becoming an interprovincial work or undertaking, a provincial Crown agent does not lose the immunity it would otherwise have.  If activity in an area of federal jurisdiction alone sufficed to prevent the agent from invoking its immunity, s. 16  of the Interpretation Act  would become a dead letter vis-à-vis the Crown in right of a province.  Parliament could embrace the provincial Crown agent through general legislative wording without any need to bind the province by a mention or reference thereto.

 

    It is unnecessary, for the purpose of this appeal, to consider whether there are limits on provincial authority to create Crown corporations operating from the outset within the federal regulatory sphere.  The question raised here is whether AGT, by exercising its powers so as to operate an interprovincial work or undertaking, exceeded the statutory authority granted to it by the province.

 

    The Federal Court of Appeal concluded that AGT stepped outside of the purposes for which it was created.  Pratte J. held, at p. 194, that because it exceeded the purposes for which it was created a Crown agent, AGT was not immune from the applicable federal regulation:

 

    It is apparent from those provisions that the legislature of Alberta, in creating AGT, intended that corporation to establish and maintain in the province a telecommunication system that would be regulated under the Public Utilities Board Act of the province.  As the only undertakings that may be regulated under that Act are those that are not described in paragraphs 92(10) (a),(b) and (c) of the Constitution Act, 1867 , it follows, in my view, that the legislature intended AGT to operate a local undertaking and that AGT, in operating a federal undertaking, stepped outside of the authority of the purposes for which it was created.  It cannot, therefore, invoke its status of a Crown agent so as to dodge the laws that are applicable to federal undertakings.

 

The idea that Crown immunity is lost when a Crown agent exceeds its statutory mandate makes particular sense in a unitary state where the regulating authority and the Crown agent fall under the same jurisdiction.  Parliament or the legislature, as the case may be, can be assumed to have granted the immunity from its own regulation for specific purposes only; where the Crown acts for an extraneous purpose any reason for the grant of immunity is lost. The doctrine fits less comfortably in a federal system where the Crown in right of one jurisdiction seeks immunity from legislation enacted by the Crown in right of a second jurisdiction.  Decisions of this Court in which this exception from immunity has been accepted generally involve the Crown seeking immunity from legislation enacted by the same jurisdiction that the Crown's agent represents.

 

    The two recent cases relied on by the Federal Court of Appeal have applied this doctrine with respect to federal Crown agents.  In Canadian Broadcasting Corporation v. The Queen, [1983] 1 S.C.R. 339, (hereinafter C.B.C.), a federal Crown corporation established under the Broadcasting Act, R.S.C. 1979, c. B-11, was charged under the Criminal Code  with the unlawful broadcasting of an obscene film.  A regulation under the Broadcasting Act specifically prohibited the showing of an obscene film.  This Court (per Estey J.) held that the CBC could not be attributed Crown immunity when it exercised its powers in a manner inconsistent with the purposes of the Broadcasting Act.

 

    In Eldorado, supra, the issue was whether federal Crown agents were immune from criminal liability under s. 32(1)(c) of the Combines Investigation Act by virtue of s. 16  of the Interpretation Act .  A majority of the Court held, at pp. 565-66:

 

    Statutory bodies such as Uranium Canada and Eldorado are created for limited purposes.  When a Crown agent acts within the scope of the public purposes it is statutorily empowered to pursue, it is entitled to Crown immunity from the operation of statutes, because it is acting on behalf of the Crown.  When the agent steps outside the ambit of Crown purposes, however, it acts personally, and not on behalf of the state, and cannot claim to be immune as an agent of the Crown.  This follows from the fact that s. 16  of the Interpretation Act  works for the benefit of the state, not for the benefit of the agent personally.  Only the Crown, through its agents, and for its purposes, is immune from the Combines Investigation Act.

 

(at p. 568):

 

That being so, the 1983 CBC case makes the same point as the present one:  a Crown agent is entitled to the benefit of the immunity afforded by s. 16  of the Interpretation Act  only when it acts within the scope of the Crown purposes it is authorized to serve.

 

    I think it is also important to draw a distinction between (i) acts committed in the course of fulfilling Crown purposes but in no way undertaken in order to effect Crown purposes; and (ii) those acts committed which are designed to effect Crown purposes.  Whereas the latter situation does invoke Crown immunity, the former does not.

 

In Eldorado, the majority held that Eldorado had in fact acted within its Crown purposes.

 

    In my view, this doctrine may be applied where one level of government seeks to invoke Crown immunity from a statute of the other.  The distinction drawn in Eldorado between an agent acting for Crown purposes and acting personally is applicable in the current context.  It follows that if AGT is acting "within the scope of the public purposes it is statutorily empowered to pursue [by entering interconnection agreements], it is entitled to Crown immunity from the operation of statutes, because it is acting on behalf of the Crown" (Eldorado, supra, at pp. 565-66).

 

    In my view, an analysis of the relevant provisions of the AGT Act indicate that AGT, by developing into an enterprise beyond the constitutional reach of the Public Utilities Board of Alberta (which, it was submitted, was intended to regulate AGT as a local work or undertaking), did not act outside the purposes for which it was created.  The statutory powers of AGT clearly authorize it to enter into interprovincial arrangements for the provision of an integrated telecommunications service for its customers.  Section 4(1) of the Alberta Government Telephones Act expressly authorizes AGT to purchase, construct or operate a telecommunications system or systems in Alberta.  The statute goes on, however, to authorize the Commission to perform any contract or obligation assigned to it by the Government of Alberta for the establishment or operation of any such system in any other province or territory of Canada (s. 4(3)(b)).  These provisions, and I repeat, read as follows:

 

4(1)  The commission may purchase, construct, extend, maintain, manufacture, operate and lease to and from other persons, a system or systems in Alberta, including private communication systems.

 

                                                                          . . . 

 

(3) The Lieutenant Governor in Council may refer or assign to the commission

 

                                                                          . . . 

 

(b)  the performance of any duty or task, including the performance of any contract entered into by the Government for the establishment, maintenance or operation of a system in any other province or territory of Canada,

 

and notwithstanding anything in this Act, the commission has all the powers, authorities and functions expressed or provided in the Act referred to it for administration, or necessary to the proper carrying out of a duty or task assigned to it under this subsection.  [Emphasis added.]

 

    Further powers are granted to AGT in s. 24 of its statute, to which I have earlier referred, wherein it is authorized to enter into agreements with any persons who own telecommunications systems "for the connection, intercommunication, joint operation, reciprocal use or transmission of business between any systems owned and operated by the parties thereto ...."  Under this power, AGT entered into agreements such as the Telecom Canada agreement which of necessity takes it outside the province of Alberta to fulfill its statutory objective of serving the people of Alberta.  In my view, this type of agreement is precisely of the nature contemplated under ss. 4 and 24 of the AGT Act.

 

    Therefore this case is entirely different from the situations contemplated in Eldorado, supra, and CBC, supra, where immunity may be lost.  AGT appears to be lawfully executing its powers consistently with the purposes of the AGT Act and is fulfilling its Crown purposes thereby.  As stated above, AGT cannot lose its Crown immunity solely because the exercise of its powers results in a change of legislative jurisdiction.  Unlike the situation in CBC, supra, AGT did no wrongful or unlawful act in operating an interprovincial work or undertaking.  It was formed to create an integrated telecommunications system, not solely an intraprovincial system.

 

    With respect for the contrary view of the Federal Court of Appeal, I do not interpret the AGT Act as intended to be coterminous with the regulatory scope of the Public Utilities Board Act.  There is a distinction between the provincial power to incorporate a company with capacity to act in a federally-regulated sphere and the provincial power to regulate that company.  The present appeal is not a challenge to any reliance by AGT on the provisions in the AGT Act referring to the Public Utilities Board nor to the exercise by that Board of any powers it purports to have with respect to AGT.  The sole issue is whether the CRTC can make an order binding on AGT.  Simply because the provincial Board has exercised regulatory jurisdiction in the past over what is now found to be a federal undertaking does not mean that AGT is not immune from federal regulation.

 

    Where AGT has not exceeded its legislative mandate or the Crown purposes for which it was created, but, rather, merely entered into a federally regulated field by virtue of its daily operations of providing telecommunication services, it cannot be said to lose its Crown immunity.  Entrance into one or another head of federal jurisdiction, simpliciter, does not automatically strip AGT of its Crown agency status and immunity.

 

    In my view AGT has not exceeded its statutory mandate or Crown purposes in the sense of CBC, supra, or Eldorado, supra.  Rather, as a provincial Crown agent its statutory purposes and ever-evolving technological advances eventually required it to operate as a federal undertaking in order to service its customers, thus attracting federal regulation.

 

    (iii)Did AGT Lose Its Immunity By Virtue of Being a Commercial Enterprise?

 

    Although not extensively addressed, the question of whether or not immunity should be available to the Crown when operating a commercial entity arose in oral argument.  Why AGT or other Crown agencies undertaking business ventures in an ordinary commercial capacity ought to be immune from otherwise valid federal legislation is a question which only Parliament can explain.

 

    The notion of a "commercial activities" exception to s. 16  of the Interpretation Act has, however, never been accepted by this Court, and was expressly rejected by Laskin C.J. in PWA, supra, at p. 69, as follows:

 

    The main support for the contention that the Crown in right of the Province was bound, although there is nothing express in that respect, lay in the assertion that the Aeronautics Act  and the Air Carrier Regulations were embracive of all entrants or would be entrants into the business of commercial air carriers or in the control, or participation in the control, of corporations engaged in such business.  This, however, is an argument that is applicable to any piece of general regulatory legislation and proves too much, unless it be taken that where the Crown engages in ordinary commercial activities it is equally subject to the regime of control of those activities.  This has not hitherto been the rule followed by the Courts, nor is it supported by the expression of principle as to Crown subjection to legislation found in s. 16 of the Interpretation Act, R.S.C. 1970, c. I-23.

 

See also the quotation from Eldorado, reproduced above at p. 000.

 

    Arguably, an analogy might be drawn between sovereign immunity in public  international law and Crown immunity.  It seems that the general trend in the international sphere is toward a restrictive immunity doctrine which accords immunity for `governmental' activity, but not for commercial activity: see McLeod, The Conflict of Laws, at pp. 72-74; Swinton, supra, at p. 28; but see Brownlie, Principles of Public International Law, 3rd ed., (cautious about the claim that the restrictive immunity doctrine is mandated by public international law).

 

    Prior to Parliamentary intervention, this Court had never adopted a commercial activities distinction:  see Gouvernement de la République democratique du Congo v. Venne, [1971] S.C.R. 997 (hereinafter Venne).  But the State Immunity Act, R.S.C., 1985, c. S-18, s. 5 , now provides that foreign states do not enjoy sovereign immunity in respect of commercial activity.  The United Kingdom Parliament had similarly found it desirable four years earlier to distinguish between acts iure imperii and acts iure gestionis:  State Immunity Act, 1978 (U.K.), 1978, c. 33, s. 3.

 

    It is far from clear that any analogy with sovereign immunity in international law is a direct one.  Laskin J. (as he then was) advocated in dissent in Venne, supra, a rule of restrictive sovereign immunity which would allow courts to be seized of disputes involving, inter alia, commercial activities of foreign states.  Yet, seven years later, Laskin C.J. in PWA, supra, was firmly of the view that there is no commercial exception to Crown immunity.  This perhaps is not surprising.  The same considerations which call for mutual respect of activities of both levels of government within the confines of a single federal state, discussed above, do not necessarily arise in the international sphere.  If a foreign state seeks to carry out commercial activities abroad as an element of state or public policy, it cannot expect immunity from foreign laws and judicial processes.  (Other policy considerations may admittedly be at stake when a public sector corporation is impleaded abroad with respect to activities conducted within the territory of the corporation's home state.)  But, as Professor Swinton makes clear in "Federalism and Provincial Government Immunity", supra, at pp. 28-29, the public policy dimension of governmental commercial activities within Canada's borders is entitled to presumptive respect:

 

There is no doubt that when a provincial government acts, whether through a government agency, a crown corporation, or a commercial corporation, it does so in the provincial public interest and it engages in activity of government.  This is clearest when the activity is carried out in a government department or through a crown agent, but equally so when a province buys into a commercial corporation.  The primary purpose in doing so may be to generate revenue for the public purse, and although the corporation's activities seem remotely connected with the public interest, there is established a governmental link between the firm and the government.  More commonly, a provincial government will have reasons additional to profit-making which lead to involvement in corporate activity.  The reason for government involvement in many of these activities, such as transportation or resource development, is to meet specific public policy objectives, with profit-making at most a secondary motivation.

 

    In trying to draw a line between what is governmental and what is proprietary, one fast becomes fixed in a quagmire of political and economic distinctions with no hope of reasoned separation.

 

    In any event, assessment of the desirability of a commercial exception is for Parliament to make, if so inclined, as was the case with the State Immunity Act , supra, in respect of sovereign immunity.

 

(e)Disposition of Immunity Issue

 

    For all the above reasons, I find that, on the basis of the legislation as presently drafted, AGT is immune from CRTC jurisdiction exercised under s. 320 of the Railway Act

 

    There is no question, however, that had the Railway Act been expressly made to bind the Crown, AGT would be subject to its provisions as a constitutional matter.  Equally it is apparent that Parliament and the provinces have the constitutional competence to reverse the common law and current statutory presumption of immunity in favour of a statutory rule of interpretation binding the Crown to enactments except where otherwise therein provided (see Interpretation Act, R.S.B.C. 1979, c. 206, s. 14;  and Interpretation Act, S.P.E.I 1981, c. 18, s. 14).

 

V.  Conclusion

 

    The appeal is allowed and the judgment of the Federal Court of Appeal is set aside.  The two constitutional questions are answered as follows:

 

1.Is Alberta Government Telephones a work or undertaking within the legislative authority of the Parliament of Canada by virtue of s. 92(10) (a) or otherwise of the Constitution Act, 1867 ?

 

Answer:  Yes.

 

2.If the answer to the question 1 is in the affirmative, is Alberta Government Telephones bound by the relevant provisions of the Railway Act?

 

Answer:  No.

 

    There will be no order as to costs.

 

//Wilson J.//

 

    The following are the reasons delivered by

 

    WILSON J. (dissenting) -- I have had the benefit of the very extensive reasons of the Chief Justice and I concur with much of what he has said.  My sole point of departure is that I do not believe that, given the facts of this case and the nature of the application before the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission ("CRTC"), Alberta Government Telephones ("AGT") is entitled to rely on s. 16  of the Interpretation Act, R.S.C. 1970, c. I-23.  Simply put, it is my view that since AGT has elected to garner the benefits of participating in a national network of telecommunications under the regulatory supervision of the CRTC, it must also accept the burdens which accompany such participation.  In other words, AGT has waived its entitlement to the protection of s. 16 of the Interpretation Act by its conduct.  Section 16 of the Interpretation Act provides:

 

    16.  No enactment is binding on Her Majesty or affects Her Majesty or Her Majesty's rights or prerogatives in any manner, except only as therein mentioned or referred to.

 

    Recognition and approval of the so-called "benefit-burden" doctrine was recently given by this Court in Sparling v. Quebec (Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec), [1988] 2 S.C.R. 1015 (hereinafter Sparling v. Quebec).  In that case, the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, a provincial Crown agent, owned sufficient shares in a publicly traded company to be considered an insider within the terms of the Canada Business Corporations Act , S.C. 1974-75-76, c. 33.  However, the Caisse refused to submit an insider report to the Director of the Act contending that it was immune from the legislation by virtue of s. 16 of the Interpretation Act.  The Director argued before this Court that, since the Caisse had taken advantage of the Canada Business Corporations Act  by purchasing the shares, it was obliged to accept the attendant burdens of the Act notwithstanding the existence of s. 16 of the Interpretation Act.

 

    The Director's argument was accepted by this Court.  La Forest J., speaking for the entire Court, held that the benefit-burden doctrine was a recognized exception to Crown immunity.  He stated at p. 1021:

 

    I am in agreement with Tyndale J.A. that the benefit/burden exception to Crown immunity exists and that it applies in this case to render the insider reporting provisions of the Canada Business Corporations Act  applicable to the Caisse.

 

    There can be no disputing the existence of the benefit/burden exception (sometimes referred to as the "waiver" exception) to Crown immunity.  It is of ancient vintage; see Crooke's Case (1691), 1 Show. K.B. 208, at pp. 210-11, 89 E.R. 540, at p. 542, where it is said:

 

If they have any right, the King can only have it by this Act of Parliament, and then they must have it as this Act of Parliament gives it.

 

The exception has been applied by this Court as recently as The Queen v. Board of Transport Commissioners, [1968] S.C.R. 118, and The Queen v. Murray, [[1967] S.C.R. 309]; see also Toronto Transportation Commission v. The King, [1949] S.C.R. 510.

 

    Having found support for the existence of the doctrine, La Forest J. set forth the general principles which should guide its application.  He stated at p. 1025:

 

It is quite correct to conclude that whenever the question of the application of the benefit/burden exception arises, the issue is not whether the benefit and burden arise under the same statute, but whether there exists a sufficient nexus between the benefit and burden.  As McNairn, op. cit., at p. 11 puts it:

 

It is not essential . . . that the benefit and the restriction upon it occur in one and the same statute for the notion of crown submission to operate.  Rather, the crucial question is whether the two elements are sufficiently related so that the benefit must have been intended to be conditional upon compliance with the restriction.

 

La Forest J. felt that a sufficient nexus existed between the holding of the shares and the reporting scheme of the Canada Business Corporations Act .  He came to this conclusion despite the fact that the Caisse was not seeking affirmatively to take advantage of the statute.  It had simply purchased shares in a company governed by the Act.  This, he found, was a sufficient nexus.  La Forest J. did, however, stop short of concluding that whenever a Crown agent operates in a field that is regulated it is deemed to accede to that regulatory jurisdiction.  He stated at p. 1027:

 

    Application of the benefit/burden exception does not result in subsuming the Crown under any and every regulatory scheme that happens to govern a particular state of affairs.  Although some earlier authorities (see, e.g., Bank of Montreal v. Bay Bus Terminal (North Bay), Ltd. (1971), 24 D.L.R. (3d) 13 (Ont. H.C.), at p. 20, aff'd (1972), 30 D.L.R. (3d) 24 (Ont. C.A.)) had been thought by some to support the view that the Crown was bound by any regulatory scheme of sufficient scope, this approach was rejected by Laskin C.J. in the P.W.A. case (p. 69).  The exception is not of such broad reach.  Its application depends not upon the existence or breadth of a statutory scheme regulating an area of commerce or other activity, but, as noted earlier, upon the relationship or nexus between the benefit sought to be taken from a statutory or regulatory provision and the burdens attendant upon that benefit.  The focus is not on the source of the rights and obligations but on their content, their interrelationship.  As McNairn, op. cit., puts it at pp. 11-12:

 

    Reliance upon a statute may...be for such a limited purpose that the crown ought not, as a result, to be taken to have assumed the attendant burdens.  Such is the case when a statute is resorted to for a purely defensive reason, for example to give notice under a registration scheme of the existence of a crown claim.  The use of a statute in this way may be distinguished from active reliance to secure positive rights, the assumption of the burdens of a statute being a possible consequence only of the latter circumstance.

 

    In his reasons in the case at bar, the Chief Justice has interpreted Sparling v. Quebec as requiring a strict nexus between the benefit obtained and the burden sought to be imposed before the benefit-burden doctrine will be applicable.  In light of this interpretation, he has found that the benefit-burden doctrine cannot be applied against AGT.  I agree that the nexus must be close but I would not go so far as to hold, as the Chief Justice seems to do, that for the benefit-burden doctrine to apply the burdens must constitute specific limitations on a specific benefit as, for example, where a specific limitation period is prescribed for the assertion of a particular right of action granted by the statute.  Rather, it is my view that the burden-benefit doctrine can also apply when the Crown agent has engaged in a deliberate and sustained course of conduct through which it has benefited from a particular provision or provisions of a statute.  In such circumstances the Crown agent cannot pick and choose the situations in which it wishes the legislation to apply.  Rather, having made a conscious decision to take the benefits of the legislation, the Crown agent must also assume the related burdens.

 

    I do not believe there is anything in La Forest J.'s reasons in Sparling v. Quebec to foreclose this broader approach to the benefit-burden doctrine.  On the contrary, La Forest J. expressly rejected a submission made by the Caisse that it would have to have taken the benefit of a specific provision in the Act before any particular burden could be imposed upon it; see p. 1024.  Nor do I feel constrained by La Forest J.'s admonition that the benefit-burden exception "does not result in subsuming the Crown under any and every regulatory scheme that happens to govern a particular state of affairs".  Clearly, the fact that the Crown has taken advantage of a particular provision in a complex regulatory statute does not mean that it becomes bound by the entire statute, particularly if many of the other provisions of the statute are totally irrelevant to the benefit the Crown has taken.  As La Forest J. emphasizes, the key is not the breadth of the statutory scheme but the "nexus between the benefit sought to be taken from a statutory or regulatory provision and the burdens attendant upon that benefit".  This is what I understand to be the thrust of La Forest J.'s reasons in Sparling v. Quebec and that thrust is, in my view, quite consistent with my approach in the present appeal.

 

    I believe, moreover, that the position I have articulated finds support in the case law which preceded Sparling v. Quebec although I must admit that the burden-benefit doctrine was not precisely articulated and defined prior to Sparling v. Quebec.

 

    In Attorney-General for British Columbia  v. Royal Bank of Canada and Island Amusement Co., [1937] 1 W.W.R. 273, aff'd on other grounds by [1937] S.C.R. 459, the British Columbia Court of Appeal considered circumstances in which a company had been stricken off and later restored to the register of the provincial Companies Act, 1929, S.A. 1929, c. 14.  The effect of this under the legislation was that the company was deemed never to have been struck off.  However, during the actual time period within which the company had been struck off, the Crown had laid claim under the doctrine of bona vacantia to a fund which the company had deposited in a bank account.  The Crown argued that the restorative provisions of The Companies Act, 1929 could not bind it and as a result it was entitled to the fund.  The court rejected this submission, holding that the Crown only became entitled to the fund because of the operation of the Act.  This being the case, the Crown was bound by the provisions of the Act which allowed for the restoration of the company and specified the consequences of such restoration.  Macdonald J.A., speaking for the majority, stated at p. 294:

 

It was solely because of a step taken under sec. 167 of the Companies Act that the fund reverted to the Crown.  If on the proper construction of secs. 199 and 200 of the same Act it provides, either expressly or by implication, that upon revival of a company the fund must be restored to its coffers no rights are invaded at all.  The Crown must invoke the Act (i.e., a step must be taken under it) to obtain any colour of right to the fund.  It cannot rely on that part of the Act by which the right is acquired and ignore that part which (if its true construction warrants it) puts an end to a right temporarily enjoyed.  The nature and extent of the right depends upon the wording of all relevant sections of the Act.  [Emphasis added.]

 

    In Reid v. Canadian Farm Loan Board, [1937] 4 D.L.R. 248 (Man. K.B.),  Reid had executed two mortgages in favour of the federal Crown agent.  He defaulted.  The Crown agent sought to foreclose the mortgages, one pursuant to The Real Property Act, S.M. 1934, c. 38, and the other through the courts since it was executed prior to the enactment of the legislation.  The federal Crown agent did not comply with The Debt Adjustment Act, 1932, S.M. 1932, c. 8, which required the mortgagee to obtain a certificate to continue foreclosure proceedings.  The court ruled that the Crown agent was obliged to comply with The Debt Adjustment Act, 1932.  In the course of his reasons Dysart J. stated at pp. 252-53:

 

    If the Board is above provincial mortgage laws, why does it recognize them on any point for any purpose?  If it has power to choose the kind of security it may take for its loans, why does it not use those same powers to enforce those securities without resorting to provincial laws?  The answer is obvious.  And if the Board has to resort to provincial laws to enforce its securities, what is to justify it in attempting to reject part of those laws while claiming the benefit of other parts?  None that I can see.

 

    The argument that the Crown (Dominion) is not affected by the restrictions of the Manitoba Debt Adjustment Act, because not expressly made subject to that Act, is not available to the Board.  The canon of construction here relied upon applies only to the Crown in its right of the jurisdiction which enacts the statutes - in this case in its right of Manitoba.  In this field of legislative action, in its right of the Dominion of Canada it [sic] has no more right in Manitoba than it has in the right of any sister Province - all are "foreign" authorities in Manitoba's legislative field.

 

    In point of actual practice, the Board has always complied with provincial mortgage law.  In this case it took as security mortgages which complied with all essential requirements imposed by Manitoba statutes and regulations and practice respecting the form and registration of the mortgages.  When it sought to enforce these mortgages, it complied with all the provincial requirements as to practice and procedure up to a certain point, and then, when pressing for further remedies, it continued to comply with the requirements of the Land Titles Office and of the Court until it was met with this one requirement of a certificate from the Debt Adjustment Commission.  Then, while refusing to comply on this single point with our laws, it demanded the benefit of them in all other respects for the enforcement of its securities.  In my opinion, the Board was unjustified in such a course.  It cannot blow hot and cold in the same breath; it should not be allowed to demand the agreeable and reject the disagreeable portions of our law in its specific dealings, but must take them as they are, as a whole.

 

While I question the soundness of the second paragraph of the above quotation, this does not detract from Dysart J.'s other basis for holding the Crown bound by the Act.  It appears very similar to the basis on which I approach the present appeal namely, that the Crown cannot "blow hot and cold in the same breath".  Once the Crown undertakes a conscious and sustained course of conduct in order to derive a benefit from a piece of legislation it must also accept the burdens that pertain to the enjoyment of that benefit.

 

    In The Queen in the Right of the Province of Ontario v. Board of Transport Commissioners, [1968] S.C.R. 118, the Ontario government had decided to run a government commuter train service near Toronto over a portion of the CNR's trackage.  The CNR applied to the Commissioners to discontinue four of its trains in anticipation of an agreement with the government.  The Commissioners approved the discontinuance but ruled that they had jurisdiction with respect to the tolls to be charged by the government on the commuter train service.  The Crown submitted to this Court that it could not be bound by the terms of the Railway Act, R.S.C. 1970, c. R-2, under which the Commissioners had asserted jurisdiction because of the wording of the former s. 16 of the Interpretation Act, R.S.C. 1952, c. 158.  It read as follows:

 

    16.  No provision or enactment in any Act affects, in any manner whatsoever, the rights of Her Majesty, her heirs or successors, unless it is expressly stated therein that Her Majesty is bound thereby.

 

The Court held that the specific terms of the Railway Act which granted the Commissioners jurisdiction did not affect the rights of Her Majesty and therefore s. 16 did not apply.  However, in coming to this conclusion the Court expressed itself in words akin to those used in relation to the subsequently articulated benefit-burden doctrine.  The Court stated at p. 124:

 

Her Majesty in right of Ontario has, apart from an agreement in principle with the Canadian National Railways, no right to operate the Commuter Service and therefore no right to levy tolls for the carriage of passengers over part of the Canadian National Railways lines.  Such rights as Ontario has are derived either from such agreement or from the Railway Act and therefore are subject to the conditions prescribed in that Act, one of these being that tolls are within the jurisdiction of the Board of Transport Commissioners.

 

In other words, since the Crown had obtained benefits or rights from the CNR pursuant to the legislation, it had to accept the burdens which accompanied them, including the supervisory jurisdiction of the Commissioners.

 

    An instance in which it may be said that the court went too far in seeking to apply the benefit-burden doctrine is Bank of Montreal v. Bay Bus Terminal (North Bay) Ltd. (1971), 24 D.L.R. (3d) 13 (Ont. H.C.), aff'd on this point by (1972), 30 D.L.R. (3d) 24 (Ont. C.A.)  (The decision in the case was later disapproved in Sparling v. Quebec, at p. 1027).  In that case the Bank of Montreal suffered a loss when a number of Bank of Canada notes were destroyed in a fire while they were being transported by another defendant.  The Bank of Montreal sued the Bank of Canada on the basis of certain provisions of the Bills of Exchange Act, R.S.C. 1952, c. 15.  The Bank of Canada relied upon s. 16 of the Interpretation Act.  The Chambers Judge ruled that the Bank of Canada was not a Crown agent on the facts of the case.  However, he also made the following comments at p. 20:

 

    A further and probably more cogent reason why s. 16 of the Interpretation Act cannot be held to prevent the Bills of Exchange Act  from applying to the Bank of Canada, lies in the provisions of the Bank of Canada Act  itself as well as in the very nature of the daily operations of the Bank.

 

    Subject to certain limitations as to amounts, kinds and maturities, s. 18 (rep. & sub. 1953-54, c. 33, s. 7; 1966-67, c. 88, s. 9), among many other things, specifically authorizes the Bank to buy and sell securities, promissory notes and bills of exchange, to make loans to various banks and banking institutions and to provincial Governments, as well as the federal Government, to buy and sell on the open market either inside or outside Canada, from or to any person:  securities, bankers' acceptances, bills of exchange and other documents of commerce, with or without endorsements of chartered banks.

 

    It would be completely incongruous to find that an institution, which many times each day, must necessarily rely on the provisions of the Bills of Exchange Act  and with which institution members of the public, as well as banking institutions, are involved commercially, would not be subject to the provisions of that Act.  Chaos and confusion would result and the Bank of Canada would be unable to properly carry out its functions.  The provisions of s. 18  of the Bank of Canada Act  do, in my view, render the Bank subject to the Bills of Exchange Act  and, if s. 16 of the Interpretation Act did apply, these provisions would override its application.

 

In my view, the Chambers Judge in that case did not err in undertaking a form of benefit-burden analysis.  He did, however, err in casting his net far too wide.  It was improper for him to look at the unconnected day-to-day operations of the Bank of Canada and conclude that the Bank should be bound by the entire Bills of Exchange Act .  Rather, he ought to have looked at those provisions of the Act from which the Bank of Canada made a conscious and sustained attempt to benefit and determine whether any of the Act's burdens were relevant to or attached to such benefits.

 

    This somewhat cursory review of case law predating Sparling v. Quebec is not intended to be exhaustive of the case law dealing with the burden-benefit doctrine.  It does, however, illustrate that courts were in appropriate circumstances pre-Sparling v. Quebec willing to impose legislative burdens upon Crown agents when those burdens were relevant to benefits which the Crown had derived from legislation through a deliberate course of conduct.  With the exception of the Bank of Montreal case, all of the cases referred to are completely consistent with the judgment of this Court in Sparling v. Quebec.  It remains to apply the principles identified to the circumstances of this case.

 

    CNCP founded its application to the CRTC in part on s. 320(7) of the Railway Act.  The subsection provides:

 

320. ...

 

    (7)  Whenever any company or any province, municipality or corporation, having authority to construct and operate, or to operate, a telephone system or line and to charge telephone tolls, whether such authority is derived from the Parliament of Canada or otherwise, is desirous of using any telephone system or line owned, controlled or operated by the company, in order to connect such telephone system or line with the telephone system or line operated or to be operated by such first mentioned company, or by such province, municipality or corporation for the purpose of obtaining direct communication, whenever required, between any telephone or telephone exchange on the one telephone system or line and any telephone or telephone exchange on the other telephone system or line, and cannot agree with the company with respect to obtaining such use, connection or communication, such first mentioned company or province, municipality or corporation may apply to the Commission for relief, and the Commission may order the company to provide for such use, connection or communication, upon such terms, including compensation if any, as the Commission deems just and expedient, and may order and direct how, when, where, by whom, and upon what terms and conditions such use, connection, or communication shall be had, constructed, installed, operated and maintained.  [Emphasis added.]

 

The subsection essentially gives the CRTC jurisdiction to regulate the interconnection of telephone systems when one party refuses to agree to terms with another party which desires the interconnection.  This provision clearly confers a benefit on the party seeking the interconnection and imposes a burden on the party resisting it since it removes the matter from the parties in default of agreement and puts it in the hands of the CRTC.  Given the existence of s. 16 of the Interpretation Act, the only way in which AGT, a provincial Crown agent, can be bound by this provision is if it has undertaken a deliberate and sustained course of conduct through which it has obtained a benefit from the operation of the legislation, a benefit which is related to the burden sought to be imposed.

 

    What benefit, if any, has AGT received from the Railway Act?  AGT has elected, of its own volition, to participate with several public and private sector entities in a national telecommunications network which also operates in the sphere of international telecommunications.  The network first operated under the name "TransCanada Telephone System" and presently operates under the name "Telecom Canada".  It must be kept in mind, however, that the network, as an unincorporated association, is nothing more than the sum of its constituent parts.  Thus, although Telecom enters into agreements with other parties and in effect carries on business operations, it does so as agent for its constituent parts, one of them being AGT.  As a result of the operation of s. 320(11) of the Railway Act Telecom was required to get CRTC approval for several agreements.  Section 320(11) reads as follows:

 

    320. ...

 

    (11)  All contracts, agreements and arrangements between the company and any other company, or any province, municipality or corporation having authority to construct or operate a telegraph or telephone system or line, whether such authority is derived from the Parliament of Canada or otherwise, for the regulation and interchange of telegraph or telephone messages or service passing to and from their respective telegraph or telephone systems and lines, or for the division or apportionment of telegraph or telephone tolls, or generally in relation to the management, working or operation of their respective telegraph or telephone systems or lines, or any of them, or any part thereof, or of any other systems or lines operated in connection with them or either of them, are subject to the approval of the Commission, and shall be submitted to and approved by the Commission before such contract, agreement or arrangement has any force or effect.  [Emphasis added.]

 

    Reed J. listed the agreements of which AGT was a part by virtue of its association with TransCanada Telephone Systems or Telecom Canada (1984), 15 D.L.R. (4th) 515, at pp. 545-46.  She stated:

 

    The agreements involving AGT which the CRTC has approved are:  the 1971 TCTS interconnection and service agreement with the American Telephone and Telegraph Company (AT&T); the 1972 interconnection agreement between AGT and CNR and amendments thereto in 1973, 1976 and 1977; the TCTS interconnection and operating agreement of 1975 with Teleglobe; a 1979 agency agreement between all members of TCTS; the 1978 TCTS agreement with Telenet; the 1979 TCTS agreement with Tymnet; interim approval in 1983 of the TCTS agreement with the American Satellite Company; interim approval in 1983 of the TCTS agreement with MCI Telecommunications Corporation.

 

    The 1976 TCTS "Connecting Agreement" itself did not initially receive approval.  In 1977, the CRTC turned down Telesat's application for approval for that agreement (Telecom Decision CRTC 77-10).  The CRTC's decision was based on a conclusion that approval would significantly prejudice regulatory control over Telesat's autonomy and create a non-competitive situation not in the public interest.  The Governor-in-Council varied the CRTC decision by P.C. 1977-3152, essentially approving the "Connecting Agreement" as originally proposed by the members of TCTS.  Again in 1981 the CRTC refused to approve certain aspects of an application dealing with increases and decreases in TCTS rates (Telecom decision CRTC 81-13).  It was this non-approval which gave rise to the petition to the Governor-in-Council referred to several times above.  This petition was signed by all members of TCTS.  The Governor-in-Council varied the original CRTC decision by P.C. 1981-3456.

 

Although AGT was not the entity which made the formal applications, save in the case of the petition to the Governor-in-Council regarding rates, they were made by Telecom on its behalf as well as on behalf of the other participants.  I do not see how in these circumstances AGT can take the position that it has not benefited along with the others from the CRTC's approval of these agreements.  The applications made under s. 320(11) should, in my view, be treated as if they had been made by the participating parties through their agent Telecom.

 

    Moreover, the agreement between AGT and Canadian National Railways for the interconnection of systems between Alberta and the Northwest Territories also required and received CRTC approval pursuant to s. 320(11).  Once more, although AGT was not the party which brought the application, the same reasoning seems to me to apply.

 

    AGT undoubtedly received many benefits from CRTC's approval of the above-mentioned agreements.  AGT was obviously anxious to maintain its membership in the network and be part of the business relationships which resulted.  An example of the benefits AGT obtained from participation in the network is that AGT can deliver a complete national and international telecommunications service to its customers.  This has undoubtedly resulted in increased revenue to AGT.  Revenue has also been created through the distribution scheme adopted by the members of Telecom.  Moreover, AGT has been able to share in the development of new technology and new marketing strategies with other Telecom members.  These are but a few of the benefits which AGT has derived from the CRTC's approval of the agreements reached by the participants.

 

    Thus, AGT has, in my view, engaged in a sustained course of conduct through which it has enjoyed the benefits and continues to enjoy the benefits derived from the submission of the agreements for CRTC approval under s. 320(11) of the Railway Act and the receipt of such approval.  Chief among those benefits is that AGT has interconnected its system with several others to form a national and international telecommunications network.  Are this and the other benefits which AGT has received sufficiently linked to the burdens which CNCP seeks to impose upon it?  In my view they are.  In my view, it would be quite improper to allow AGT and other Crown agents to pick and choose the circumstances in which they will allow the CRTC to regulate interconnections between themselves and other entities engaged in telecommunications particularly when those other entities cannot so choose.  To do so would be to let AGT "blow hot and cold in the same breath".  Having acceded to CRTC jurisdiction over interconnections in order to obtain the benefits of such interconnections, AGT must accede to CRTC jurisdiction for the attendant burdens associated with such interconnections.

 

    Reed J. in the Federal Court Trial Division appeared reluctant to impose the benefit-burden doctrine upon AGT because CNCP was never a party to any of the consensual interconnection agreements into which AGT entered.  I do not share this concern.  AGT's willingness to receive the benefits of s. 320(11) was not confined to an isolated incident involving a specific transaction.  Rather, AGT has deliberately engaged in a sustained course of conduct through which it has endeavoured to take advantage of the benefits of interconnection agreements which under the legislation required the approval of the CRTC.  The nexus is not confined to an isolated and unrelated invocation of the statute.  By seeking to obtain broadly based benefits AGT has, in my view, subjected itself to the statute's broadly based burdens.  It is subject to the supervisory jurisdiction of the CRTC in the same way as the other participants in Telecom.

 

    I have not dealt with the fact that if AGT is not subject to the regulatory control of the CRTC because of its status as an agent of the provincial Crown, then it is in a position to frustrate the operation of the network since in light of my finding it is not necessary for me to do so.  I must say, however, that this provides in my mind substantial re-inforcement for the position I have taken.  Nor have I discussed the fact that if AGT is not subject to the regulatory control of the CRTC with respect to its participation in the network, then it is not subject to any regulatory control since the network has been found to be an interprovincial undertaking.  This is obviously a practical rather than a legal consideration as far as the issue of AGT's being subject to the regulatory control of the CRTC is concerned.

 

    I have not addressed either the desirability of a "commercial activity" exception to the doctrine of Crown immunity.  It seems to me, however, that the rationale for such an exception in the international sphere obtains equally in the domestic sphere.  I have serious doubts that the doctrine of Crown immunity, developed at a time when the role of government was perceived as a very narrow one, was ever intended to protect the Crown when it acted, not in its special role qua Crown, but in competition with other commercial entities in the market place.  I leave this for another day.

 

    I conclude that in the circumstances of this case AGT is precluded by its conduct from relying on s. 16 of the Interpretation Act.  It follows that Reed J. erred in granting AGT a writ of prohibition.  I would remit the matter back to the CRTC to deal with the s. 320(7) application on its merits.  I would make no order as to costs.

 

    Appeal allowed, WILSON J. dissenting; the first constitutional question should be answered in the affirmative, the second in the negative.

 

    Solicitors for the appellant and for the intervener the Attorney General for Alberta:  Burnet, Duckworth & Palmer, Calgary.

 

    Solicitor for the intervener the Attorney General of Canada:  The Deputy Attorney General, Ottawa.

 

    Solicitor for the intervener the Attorney General of Quebec:  The   Attorney General of Quebec, Ste‑Foy.

 

    Solicitor for the intervener the Attorney General of Nova Scotia: The  Attorney General of Nova Scotia, Halifax.

 

    Solicitor for the intervener the Attorney General for New Brunswick: The Deputy Attorney General, Fredericton.

 

    Solicitor for the intervener the Attorney General of Manitoba:  Tanner Elton, Winnipeg.

 

    Solicitor for the intervener the Attorney General of British Columbia:  The Attorney General of British Columbia, Victoria.

 

    Solicitor for the intervener the Attorney General of Prince Edward Island:  The Attorney General of Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown.

 

    Solicitor for the intervener the Attorney General for Saskatchewan:  Brian Barrington‑Foote, Regina.

 

    Solicitor for the intervener the Attorney General of Newfoundland: The Attorney General of Newfoundland, St. John's.

 

    Solicitor for the respondent CNCP Telecommunications:  Canadian Pacific Law Department, Montreal.

 

    Solicitor for the respondent Canadian Radio‑television and Telecommunications Commission:  Canadian Radio‑television and Telecommunications Commission, Hull.

 



     *Beetz, Estey and Le Dain JJ. took no part in the judgment.

 You are being directed to the most recent version of the statute which may not be the version considered at the time of the judgment.