Goods and Services Tax (Reference)

This case was a reference to the Supreme Court of Canada that arose out of a challenge by the Province of Alberta as the constitutionality of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) as enacted by the federal Excise Tax Act.

This case was a reference to the Supreme Court of Canada that arose out of a challenge by the Province of Alberta as the constitutionality of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) as enacted by the federal Excise Tax Act. The Alberta Court of Appeal had ruled that the tax was unconstitutional in several respects and the federal Attorney General appealed. The Supreme Court of Canada concluded that the GST was constitutional as it was based on the valid exercise by the federal Parliament of its taxing power as provided in section 91(3) of the Constitution Act, 1867. According to the 5-judge majority (1992), the impact of the federal tax on provincial jurisdiction over property and civil rights (92(13)) was purely incidental; for the 2-judge minority, the GST was, in its true character, a measure grounded on section 91(3); there was no need to resort to the "incidental" doctrine to come to the conclusion that the tax was valid.

Sections 125 and 126 of the Constitution Act, 1867, which provides that one must not tax the property of the Crown, had not been violated. The provisions of the Excise Tax Act, which required the remission of the tax when the province collected it, did not constitute a tax on provincial assets.