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Parliamentary Debates in Statutory Interpretation: A Question of Admissibility or of Weight?
The exclusionary rule which prohibits references to parliamentary materials as an aid to statutory interpretation has been applied for decades in most common law jurisdictions. The House of Lords handed down its fundamental decision in Pepper v. Hart which allowed reference to parliamentary dabates in limited circumstances. The author first examines the English origins of the exclusionary rule as well as its application in other common law jurisdictions, including Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Canada, The author also comments on the situation prevailing in Quebec's civil law system. The exclusion of parliamentary debates is then considered in the broader context of the methods and principles of statutory construction. The author contends that the issue of parliamentary dabates in statutory interpretation is a question of weight and not of admissibility. To support this position, the rationales underlying the exclusionary rule are analysed and, for the most part, refuted. After demonstrating that parliamentary debates should play a role as an interpretative aid to ascertain legislative intent, the author concludes by suggesting factors to consider in determining their persuasive force.
Publisher(s)McGill Law Journal
BEAULAC Stéphane, "Parliamentary Debates in Statutory Interpretation: A Question of Admissibility or of Weight?" (1998) 43 McGill Law Journal 287-324.