Reviving the Modern Rule in the Interpretation of Tax Statutes: Baby Steps Taken in Canada Trustco, Mathew, Placer Dome and Imperial Oil

48 Pages Posted: 17 Nov 2007  

Jinyan Li

York University - Osgoode Hall Law School

David M. Piccolo

David M. Piccolo, Barrister & Solicitor; York University - Osgoode Hall Law School

Date Written: November 15, 2007

Abstract

Canada Trustco, Mathew, Placer Dome and Imperial Oil are landmark decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada in terms of their illumination on the principle of statutory interpretation. In these cases, the Court stated that the Income Tax Act should be interpreted in accordance with a "textual, contextual and purposive" approach. This amounts to a revival of the "modern rule" of statutory interpretation and a move away from the "plain meaning" approach previously adopted by the Court. This article argues that the steps taken by the Court in reviving the modern rule are merely baby steps, as many key questions remain inadequately addressed. The article first discusses the rise and fall of the modern rule in Canadian tax jurisprudence. It then analyzes each of the four decisions and highlights the contribution of each case to the development of the textual, contextual and purposive interpretation. The article concludes with some thoughts on the challenges facing the courts in establishing the "purpose" of provisions of the Act and offers some suggestions for moving forward.

Keywords: Canada Trustco, Mathew, Placer Dome, Imperial Oil, Income Tax Act, Canada, modern rule, statutory interpretation

JEL Classification: K10, K34

Suggested Citation

Li, Jinyan and Piccolo, David M., Reviving the Modern Rule in the Interpretation of Tax Statutes: Baby Steps Taken in Canada Trustco, Mathew, Placer Dome and Imperial Oil (November 15, 2007). CLPE Research Paper No. 31/2007. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1030653 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1030653

Jinyan Li (Contact Author)

York University - Osgoode Hall Law School ( email )

4700 Keele Street
Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3
Canada
416-736-5025 (Phone)

David M. Piccolo

David M. Piccolo, Barrister & Solicitor ( email )

425 University Avenue
Suite 501
Toronto, Ontario M5G 1T6
Canada
416-260-1866 (Phone)
1-866-285-6527 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.piccololaw.ca

York University - Osgoode Hall Law School ( email )

4700 Keele Street
Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3
Canada

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