One Way to Cut Red Tape

The Beef Cattle Marketing Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. B.5, s. 3, provides:

    3(1) Except under the authority of a licence, no person shall sell cattle.

    (2) Every person who sells cattle shall be deemed to be the holder of a licence.

This technique certainly cuts down on unnecessary paper work!

I did not find this; a colleague directed me to it. He described it as “the best tautological statutory provision” that he had seen.


  1. I wonder if there’s a fee for the licence that one is deemed to hold, and if so, who gets the money?

  2. Notional fee, paid notionally. I think one notionally reports payment to someone called Harvey.

  3. There is an actual licence fee imposed by regulation under s. 5 of the Act, and payable to the Ontario Cattlemen’s Association. So the provision is a kind of private tax, supported by statute. No need for publicly-funded red tape to manage the system. Section 4 of the Act says what the Association may do with the money.

    There may be administrative reasons for doing it in this two-step way (one step forward, one step back – except that when you finish you’re short a licence fee), rather than simply providing that every person who sells cattle shall pay $2 per head to the Association.