Legistics
Attributing Meaning to Terms

Recommendation

It is recommended that legislative counsel, when attributing meaning to terms, use the bolded wording in the models set out below for the particular cases.

Models

  1. When referring to a defined term:

       The Agency is responsible for the enforcement of the Food and Drugs Act as it relates to food, as defined in section 2 of that Act.

    (Note that in the example above, the word food does not have quotation marks, as we are referring not to the definition but to the concept of food.)

  2. When defining a term by reference to another defined term:

    (when the two terms are the same)
       For the purposes of subsection (2), "spill" has the same meaning as in subsection 24(1) of the Oil and Gas Production and Conservation Act.

    (when the two terms are different)
       In these Regulations, "locally engaged employee" has the meaning assigned by the definition "employee" in section 2 of the Locally-engaged Staff Employment Regulations.

    (when the term is to be defined not in the Act in which it occurs, but later in the regulations)
      For the purposes of this section, "certifying authority" has the meaning assigned by the Regulations.

  3. When referring to the general sense of a term garnered from

    • (a) a text that is larger than a definition, such as an entire Act or regulation or a group of  provisions (some of which may supplement a defined term); or
    • (b) a text, other than a single-definition provision, that would not be described as a definition if it were to be amended (such as a provision that sets out that something is — or has the qualities of — something, without defining it[1]):

       The Investment Canada Act does not apply in respect of the acquisition of control of a Canadian business, within the meaning of that Act, by a foreign bank or by an entity associated with a foreign bank.

      "continuous freight movement" has the meaning assigned by Part 1 of Schedule 1 to the Act.

    Similar wording may also be used when you need to pinpoint a portion of a definition:

       This subsection applies in the case of a federal authority, within the meaning of paragraph (b) of the definition "federal authority" in subsection 2(1), if the Minister agrees.

Footnotes

  • [1] For example:

    Meaning of greater interest

    (3) For the purpose of subsection (1), a government institution has a greater interest in a record if ….

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