Dalhousie Law Journal


legal history, Supreme Court of Canada, Chief Justice, Brian Dickson, Anti-Inflation Reference, courts


It is only in recent years that the use by judges of extrinsic materials has become an issue openly discussed in Canadian legal periodicals. Chief Justice Brian Dickson virtually occasioned a debate on the question in a public address in 1979. The Chief Justice said: ". . . the Supreme Court of Canada recently signalled an increasing receptiveness to the use of extrinsic materials in the Anti-Inflation Reference. Accordingly, I expect that we will see an increasing use by appellate courts of extrinsic evidence". Dickson gave the impression that extrinsic material was not widely used by Canadian courts prior to the Anti-Inflation case. The purpose of this paper is to show that one form of extrinsic material - historical evidence - has long been used with confusing results in Canadian constitutional cases.