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Multiple Access Ltd v McCutcheon, [1982] 2 SCR 161 (Link)


The (provincial) Ontario Securities Act prohibited insider trading, (federal) Canada had almost identical legislation. The defendants were charged under the Ontario legislation, but argued that Ontario legislation could not apply because the defendants' company was a federally traded company and in federal jurisdiction – in the alternative, the defendants relied on the doctrine of paramountcy


Does the “matter” of the insider trading provision of the federal act fall within a class of subject allocated to Parliament?

Can duplicate legislation operate at both the federal and provincial levels?


Double aspect doctrine: Laws with substantially similar purpose regulating the same matter can both be valid.
** There is double aspect to insider trading (the federal aspect deals with company law; the provincial aspect deals with securities regulation)

If there is no repugnancy (express contradiction), then the provincial legislation remains operable
** Mere duplication without actual conflict or contradiction is not sufficient to invoke the doctrine of paramountcy and render otherwise valid provincial legislation invalid
** Mere duplication in itself does not equal conflict


Before going to paramountcy the court had to find both acts valid – validity turns on classification. The Court defined the purpose of the federal and provincial provisions – finding that the laws are substantially similar.

The power of Parliament in relation to the incorporation of companies with other-than-provincial objects has not been narrowly defined – it goes well beyond mere incorporation.
Double Aspect doctrine is applicable. Both acts seem to be of equal importance.

Paramountcy issue usually requires judges to determine the degree of overlap and/or conflict between federal and provincial statutes
** Duplication is the “ultimate in harmony”


Both statues are valid: the Double Aspect Doctrine applies.

Both the provincial and federal legislation are valid – both can stand as paramountcy does not apply.


Narrow definition of conflict


  1. Thanks! Division of powers is awesome.

  2. above the law 4

    Division of powers is a pain! The SCC sort of agrees in http://scc.lexum.org/en/2.....scc44.html :)

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