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By Ruth Sullivan

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Most important, perhaps, a legislature is not limited in the ways it can respond to the problems it addresses. It can raise or lower taxes, design new regulatory regimes or deregulate, fund new programs or cut existing ones, and delegate authority to anyone it thinks fit. Courts, in contrast, do not control their own agenda, and the flow of information they command is limited. They cannot create new programs or draft a complex set of regulations. Given their limited options and the limits on their time, money, information, and power, courts lack the resources that arguably are necessary for sound policy development.

A prison guard who fails to comply with a directive may be disciplined by the employer but he or she has not broken the law. An applicant for a benefit who meets the criteria set out in a guideline may nonetheless be denied the benefit, provided the denial is within the statutory discretion conferred on the decision-maker. It is the Act, not the non-statutory guideline, that declares the law. It is sometimes difficult to determine whether a given instrument is legislative or quasi-legislative. The title given to the instrument is not conclusive.

14 STATUTORY INTERPRETATION B. DR AFTING CONVENTIONS Although the content of legislation is infinitely variable, its form and style are fixed to a large extent by the conventions of legislative drafting. These conventions vary in some respects from one jurisdiction to another, but the broad principles are the same throughout Canada. Conventions govern the style in which legislation is drafted, the form and structure of legislative provisions, the arrangement of provisions within an Act, the use of headings, notes, and other finders’ aids, and the use of particular words.

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