Alexander College Corp. v. Canada (November 18, 2016 – 2016 FCA 269, Gauthier, Stratas, Gleason (author) JJ. A.).
Précis: This decision turned on a very narrow point of law, elucidated in the Tax Court as follows:
 The appellant contended that the Associate Degree, defined as a “degree” under the DAA is a degree-granting institution which is recognized by British Columbia provincial legislation, by universities and colleges within that province, by post-secondary institutions within and outside Canada, and by federal departments or programs. As such, it meets the definition of a “university” under subsection 123(1) of the ETA. Therefore, as a university, the Fees paid for courses (supplied) are exempt from GST/HST under section 7 of Part III of Schedule V of the ETA (“section 7”)
 The respondent takes the position that as a private college granting an Associate Degree, the appellant fails to meet the conditions of a university in that the term “degree” in subsection 123(1) of the ETA equates to a baccalaureate degree or higher to qualify as a university. By describing itself as a “university”, the appellant is trying to bootstrap itself into Section 7 so that its supplies will be exempt from GST/HST. Finding that a private college is a university will lead to absurd and illogical consequences.
The Tax Court found that the taxpayer was not a “university” and dismissed its appeal. The logic of the Tax Court decision was essentially eviscerated by the Federal Court of Appeal which set aside the Tax Court judgment, replacing it with the decision that should have been made and an order of costs to the taxpayer throughout.
Decision: Essentially the Court of Appeal thought that the Tax Court’s approach was wrong-headed:
 There is thus no absurdity in the overlap of educational suppliers and no impermissible redundancy in understanding the term “university” in subsection 123(1) of the ETA to include a college merely because a “public college” is separately listed in paragraph 7 of Part III, Schedule V to the ETA.
 This intent is reflected in what the Minister of Finance stated when the provisions were being debated before Parliament. Schedule V to the ETA was adopted in 1990 along with other amendments. In respect of the suite of amendments that concerned the taxation of educational services, the Minister of Finance stated as follows:
Madam Speaker, there is no tax on education. There is no GST on educational services. That is a simple part of the legislation.
(House of Commons Debates, 34th Parl. 2d sess., Vol. 8 (11 May 1990) at 1271 (Hon. Michael Wilson, Minister of Finance))
 It is consistent with this purpose that private colleges like Alexander College be exempt from the requirement to collect and remit GST/HST.
 Finally, as Alexander College convincingly argues, the interpretation offered by the Tax Court leads to an absurd result. Students taking the same courses at a British Columbia university and Alexander College or pursuing associate degrees at the two institutions would be subject to different tax treatment. Under the Tax Court’s interpretation, students would not have to pay GST/HST on their course fees in the former case while in the latter they would. There is no principled basis for such differentiation and, for the reasons discussed above, such a result is not required under a textual, contextual or purposive reading of the relevant provisions. Rather, when properly read, the provisions in issue lead to the conclusion that Alexander College falls within the exemption in paragraph 7 of Part III, Schedule V of the ETA.
The Federal Court of Appeal set aside the Tax Court judgment, replacing it with the decision that should have been made and an order of costs to the taxpayer throughout. An impressive win for Terry Barnett and Natasha Reid of Thorsteinssons.