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Doing Business in Canada

A skilled workforce, abundant natural resources and a stable political and economic environment have made Canada one of the world's premier locations for business investment. Groundbreaking free trade agreements with the U.S., Mexico and several other countries have enhanced this status. Moreover, the opportunities for business development in Canada at the beginning of the twenty-first century extend beyond traditional areas of Canadian strength to the rapidly expanding field of high technology.

Stikeman Elliott's newly updated Doing Business in Canada is designed to give those interested in pursuing Canadian business opportunities an overview of Canadian law as it relates to business and investment.

Table of Contents

A. A Brief Introduction to Canada
Canada is a parliamentary democracy, a federal state and a constitutional monarchy. As a general rule, the federal government presides over matters of national and international importance, while the provinces have jurisdiction over matters of local importance.

B. Foreign Trade, Investment and Immigration
In recent years, Canada has been a full participant in the effort to reduce global trade barriers and free trade agreements have been negotiated with the United States and several other countries.

C. Types of Business Organization
Both the federal and provincial governments have enacted legislation providing for the incorporation and regulation of various forms of businesses. 

D. Securities Law and Capital Markets
Canadian capital markets are highly developed and regulated, however, securities law in Canada is largely the responsibility of the provincial and territorial governments.

E. Employment Law
Legislative jurisdiction over labour and employment is shared by the Canadian provincial and federal governments.

F. Environmental Law
Canadian environmental protection legislation generally includes the regulation of air, soil and water pollution, and transportation and storage of dangerous goods, while health issues are addressed in health and safety legislation.

G. Consumer Protection Law
The federal and provincial governments have enacted a variety of legislation designed to protect consumers.

H. Canada's Languages
Canada's official languages are English and French, and language requirements must be considered when doing business in Canada.

I. Conflict of Laws
Each province and territory in Canada has its own set of rules for determining when it will apply the laws of another jurisdiction or hear disputes connected with another jurisdiction.

J. Competition/Antitrust
Since the adoption of the Competition Act in 1986, the Canadian government has demonstrated an increasing sensitivity to the anti-competitive effects of mergers and other business practices.

K. Intellectual Property
Federal legislation governs intellectual property rights and prescribes the requirements for registration, length of protection and penalties for infringement of these rights.

L. Real Estate
The sale and development of real estate is a matter of provincial jurisdiction, and each province governs the acquisition, ownership, use and development of real estate.

M. Bankruptcy and Insolvency
The majority of Canada's insolvency rules are enshrined in two principal federal statutes - the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act.

N. Electronic Commerce
In response to the increasing use of electronic transactions in commerce and government, new laws focusing on electronic commerce issues have been introduced in Canada.

O. Privacy
The federal government and some provinces have enacted legislation to govern the private sector's use and disclosure of personal information.

P. Taxation
While residents of Canada are subject to tax on worldwide income, non-residents of Canada are generally subject to tax only on their Canadian source income.

Q. Broadcasting and Telecommunications
The federal government has exclusive jurisdiction over broadcasting and telecommunications. 

R. Energy and Natural Resources
Responsibility for the regulation of energy and natural resources in Canada is shared by the federal and provincial governments.

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