The Words Of An Act Essay

1600 Words Oct 19th, 2016 7 Pages
In the words of Elmer Driedger (as cited in Boyd, 2015), “the words of an Act are to be read in their entire context in their grammatical sense harmoniously with the scheme of the Act, the object of the Act and the intention of Parliament” (p. 65). This is a holistic approach, as it emphasizes balance in the analysis of the literal language used, the context and purpose of the statute, as well as the intention of the legislature that passed it. This paper will assess the strengths and weaknesses of this approach in reference to the cases of R. v. Boudreault, the Persons case of 1927, Paldi Khalsa Diwan Society v. Cowichan Valley (Regional District), and R. v. Skakun. It will be argued that Driedger 's approach is the most preferable in theory but, in practice where it is combined with the principle of stare decisis, it is beneficial only insofar as the judgments in precedent-setting cases accord with fundamental justice. Driedger 's approach stresses that the language of a statute can be insufficient to “determine the full intent of the legislature,” and that in these cases use of external sources may be necessary (Boyd, 2015, p. 71). Additionally, when a literal reading results in “inconsistency, absurdity, or repugnancy,” the meaning of the problematic language may need to be adjusted to conform to the rest of the statute (p. 73). There are three main principles to guide the interpretation of statutes in the face of ambiguity. Firstly, the inclusion of specific terms…

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