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Simon Shields, LLB

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Statutory Interpretation

Tyendinaga Mohawk Council v. Brant (Ont CA, 2014)

In this case the Court of Appeal briefly stated the current judicial approach to statutory interpretation:
[51] Statutory interpretation cannot be founded on the wording of the legislation alone and strict construction of statutes has given way to purposive and contextual interpretation. Our jurisprudence has adopted the principle pronounced by E. A. Driedger: “Today there is only one principle or approach, namely, the words of an Act are to be read in their entire context and in their grammatical and ordinary sense harmoniously with the scheme of the Act, the object of the Act, and the intention of Parliament”: E. A. Driedger, Construction of Statutes, 2d ed., (Toronto: Butterworths, 1983) at 87. The Supreme Court of Canada in R. v. Gladue, 1999 CanLII 679 (SCC), [1999] 1 S.C.R. 688, at para. 25, interpreted this principle as follows:
As this Court has frequently stated, the proper construction of a statutory provision flows from reading the words of the provision in their grammatical and ordinary sense and in their entire context, harmoniously with the scheme of the statute as a whole, the purpose of the statute, and the intention of Parliament. The purpose of the statute and the intention of Parliament, in particular, are to be determined on the basis of intrinsic and admissible extrinsic sources regarding the Act’s legislative history and the context of its enactment. [Citations omitted.]
[52] It is necessary, therefore, to determine the purpose of the legislation, whether as a whole or as expressed in a particular provision.

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