LAW, POLICY AND STATUTORY INTERPRETATION UNDER A CONSTITUTIONALLY ENTRENCHED CANADIAN CHARTER OF RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS
AbstractThis article assesses current principles and techniques of statutory interpretation, in order to determine the effect of an entrenched Charter on judicial decision-making. The author considers the literal approach and the plain meaning rule, as well as the purposive approach, as a basis for judicial interpretation, and examines existing strategies of constitutional interpretation. The article claims that current approaches assume an unambiguous meaning for words and deny judicial discretion, which ultimately facilitates arbitrary decision-making, a focus on manipulation of abstract concepts rather than effects on society, and a loss of certainty in the law. The author recommends a policy-oriented approach based on the systematic examination of all features of the social process and built on a framework for inquiry into the contextual background of statutes. He believes the Charter has initiated such a direction by setting out fundamental Canadian values and requiring courts to police legislation for compliance.
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