On June 23, 2015, the Administrative Tribunal of Quebec (the
"TAQ") quashed a monetary administrative penalty
("MAP") which had been imposed by the Ministry of
Sustainable Development, Environment and the Fight against Climate
Change ("MSDEFCC") because of minor violations to a
certificate of authorization.1
In its decision, the TAQ ruled that the MSDEFCC cannot take into
account as an aggravating factor justifying the imposition of a MAP
the fact that a previous notice of non-compliance had been issued
to an affiliated entity. In reaching this conclusion, the TAQ thus
invalidated a portion of the General Framework for applying MAPs
published by the MSDEFCC pursuant to section 115.3 of the
Environment Quality Act (the
As it has done it in two previous decisions3, the TAQ
restated that the General Framework is an administrative document
subordinated to the EQA which must be consistent therewith. Because
the General Framework is creating an aggravating factor departing
from the general principle that corporations have a legal
personality separate from that of their officers and directors, the
TAQ found that this principle could not be disregarded by the
MSDEFCC in the absence of legislative authorization. The TAQ
reviewed section 115.3 of the EQA and noted that it did not provide
for this possibility and therefore concluded that the General
Framework could not ignore the separate legal personalities of two
affiliated corporations. The TAQ also ruled that non-compliances
with several conditions of a certificate of authorization did not
constitute a repetitive factor but rather a single violation under
section 123.1 of the EQA.
This decision provides additional clarity on the circumstances
under which a MAP can be imposed and further confirms that the
MSDEFCC discretion in this regard is not boundless. It also
illustrates that the legality of MAPs can be challenged when they
are based on criteria that are not specified in the EQA and that
depart from fundamental legal principles.
1. Coopérative Forestière
Laterrière v. Ministère du Développement
Durable, de l 'Environnement et de la Lutte contre les
changements climatiques, 2015 QCTAQ 06827.
2. Cadre général d'application des
sanctions administratives pécuniaires, Juillet 2013, section
3. Soylutions inc. v. Ministère du
Développement durable, de l'Environnement, de la Faune
et des Parcs, 2014 QCTAQ 05620; Excavation René
St-Pierre inc. v. Ministère du Développement durable,
de l'Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements
climatiques, 2015 QCTAQ 02386.
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