Doyon, Ruel, Moore
Appeal from a judgment of the Superior Court ruling on an application for a determination of an issue of law under article 209 of the Code of Civil Procedure (CQLR, c. C-25.01). Allowed in part.
Between September 2008 and March 2017, the respondents were issued a certificate of authorization to carry out activities in a wetland. On April 6, 2017, Bill 132 was introduced in the National Assembly and on June 16, 2017, the Act respecting the conservation of wetlands and bodies of water (S.Q. 2017, c. 14) was assented to. That law amended the ministerial authorization scheme under the Environment Quality Act (EQA) (CQLR, c. Q-2) for activities in wetlands. Section 46.0.9 of the EQA requires authorization holders to begin the activity within two years of the authorization being issued, on pain of it being cancelled by operation of law. Section 46.0.9 came into force on March 23, 2018. The trial judge held that this provision did not apply to certificates issued pursuant to an application for authorization prior to April 7, 2017.
The primary source of the rules governing conflict of laws in time remains the legislature’s intention. Therefore, the first step is to interpret the transitional provisions of the Act respecting the conservation of wetlands and bodies of water to find the solution. However, none of these provisions concerns certificates obtained pursuant to an application prior to April 7, 2017, and issued before June 16, 2017. The legislature was not interested in the date the application was filed, but the date the authorization was issued. The transitional provisions cover applications made starting on April 6, 2017, and authorizations issued between June 16, 2017, and March 23, 2018, when section 46.0.9 of the Environment Quality Act came into force.
In his conclusions, the judge determined that section 46.0.9 of the EQA does not apply to an application for authorization filed before April 7, 2017, without further precision. To simplify the debate, and even though this changes nothing in the judge’s interpretation, it is preferable to refer to the date of issuance and include only cases not covered by the transitional provisions. Thus, the appeal is allowed in part for the sole purpose of replacing the conclusion to read that section 46.0.9 of the Environment Quality Act, which came into force on March 23, 2018, does not apply to authorizations issued before June 16, 2017.
Legislation interpreted: section 46.0.9 of the Environment Quality Act
Text of the decision: http://citoyens.soquij.qc.ca