Canada: Doing Business In Canada - Spring 2019


Canada welcomes international participants in its economy and business community. A focus of Aird & Berlis LLP is to represent international clients investing in Canada and to assist domestic clients in their business and financial dealings with international participants. At Aird & Berlis LLP, we have extensive experience and expertise in acting for international and Canadian clients. We are very proud of the international recognition given to various members of our firm by authoritative guides, including: The International Who's Who of Business Lawyers; Chambers Canada; Chambers Global: The World's Leading Lawyers in Business; The Legal 500 Canada; Martindale-Hubbell Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers; Legal Media Group Guides to the World's Leading Lawyers; International Tax Review – North America Guide; The Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory; The Lexpert/American Lawyer Guide to the Leading 500 Lawyers in Canada – "40 Repeatedly Recommended Canadian Corporate Mid-Market Lawyers," The Lexpert Guide to the Leading US/Canada Cross-border Corporate Lawyers in Canada; and The Best Lawyers in Canada.

We are the Canadian gateway for our international clients. We represent a broad range of business entities and individuals. We act for international entities doing business in Canada and Canadian entities doing business abroad. We are dedicated to providing counsel to our clients with respect to their international business activities with a particular focus on taxation, corporate finance (including mergers and acquisitions), securities, financing and real estate investments. We make your business our business and we are ready to assist your business at any time.

Our dedication to the international business arena has been exemplified by our commitment to our international practice. Our lawyers' commitment is evidenced by our active participation in various international associations where we learn from our colleagues around the world including: AIJA (International Association of Young Lawyers); American Bankruptcy Institute; American Bar Association; American Intellectual Property Law Association; American Real Estate Society, Association of Commercial Finance Attorneys; InterAmerican Bar Association; International Association of Restructuring, Insolvency, and Bankruptcy Practitioners; International Bar Association; International Council of Shopping Centers; International Fiscal Association; International Municipal Lawyers Association; International Project Finance Association; International Swaps and Derivatives Association; International Trademark Association; and International Women's Forum; among many others

Canada was created in 1867 and currently consists of 10 provinces and three territories. Canada is a parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy with Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state. The Governor General, to whom The Queen has delegated all of her powers over Canada (except the power to appoint or dismiss the Governor General), is obliged to follow the wishes of Canada's elected representatives. As The Queen's representative in Canada, the Governor General's role is largely ceremonial. Canada's two official languages are English and French and both have equal status in federal courts, Parliament and in all federal institutions.


Canada is a federal state in which legislative power is constitutionally divided between the federal government and the provincial governments. A third level of government, municipal or local government, has only the powers granted to it by the applicable provincial government. The federal and the provincial governments have exclusive jurisdiction and legislative powers over specified matters. The federal government also has "residual" jurisdiction over matters not specifically assigned to the provinces. In addition, while Canada's three territories (Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut) have legislatures and govern themselves on local matters, their constitutional responsibilities are fewer than those of the provinces

The federal government has control over matters of national interest, such as trade and commerce, transportation and communication, banking, currency, customs and excise, external relations, defence and criminal law. The provincial governments have power over matters of a local nature, such as property and civil rights within the province, municipal institutions, education, health and welfare, and the administration of justice. Since coming into force more than three decades ago, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, has imposed limitations on government powers in order to protect civil liberties.

Canada has a parliamentary government. The legislative power of the federal government is vested in the Parliament of Canada, which consists of the Crown, an upper house, known as the Senate, and a lower house, known as the House of Commons. The members of the House of Commons (known as Members of Parliament, or MPs) are chosen in a general election held on the third Monday of October in the fourth calendar year following the last general election, though there is no prohibition on a general election being called on another date, when, on the advice of the Prime Minister, the Governor General dissolves Parliament. The federal government is headed by the Prime Minister, who is normally the leader of the political party that has the most members in the House of Commons. The members of the Senate are currently appointed by the Governor General on the recommendation of the Prime Minister, and appointments are distributed on a regional basis.

Canada's provinces have systems of government which parallel that of the federal government in several ways. A premier leads each provincial government by virtue of being the leader of the political party with the most support in the provincial legislature, and forms a cabinet from the elected members of the governing party. As the federal and the provincial governments are elected separately, there may be different political parties in power at each level. There are no provincial bodies that are equivalent to the Senate.


There are two legal systems in Canada: British-based common law and European-style civil law. Civil law predominately applies in the province of Quebec, while common law applies in all other provinces and territories. Both legal systems are subject to the Constitution of Canada.

The Supreme Court of Canada is Canada's highest court. It is the final court of appeal having jurisdiction to hear appeals from the courts of appeal of each province, as well as from the Federal Court of Appeal, which has jurisdiction over a relatively small

range of specialized areas under the jurisdiction of the federal government, such as intellectual property. The Supreme Court of Canada consists of nine judges, three of whom must be from the province of Quebec. The judges of the Supreme Court, the Federal Court and certain provincial courts (so-called "Superior Courts") are appointed by the Governor General on the advice of the Prime Minister and cabinet.

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