Dalhousie Law Journal


Supreme Court of Canada, courts, court of appeal, jurisprudence, administrative discretion


In a 1998 decision, Pushpanathan v Canada, the Supreme Court of Canada synthesized and revised the previous jurisprudence on "pragmatic and functional analysis" - the approach used since the late 1980's to determine the appropriate standard of deference in substantive review of administrative decision making. The next year, in Baker v. Canada, the Court expanded the reach of the pragmatic and functional analysis by applying it to the exercise of administrative discretion. This paper examines approximately 275 lower court decisions to determine how courts across Canada are responding to and implementing the doctrinal change initiated by the Supreme Court. Patterns discerned in the detailed analysis of cases are then used as a basis for reflections about the current approach to substantive review and possible future directions.

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