Extrinsic Aids to Statutory Interpretation: Committees

AuthorSusan Barker, Erica Anderson
chapter f ive
Extrinsic Aids to Statutory Interpretation:
A Parliament or legislature uses various kinds of commiees (a smaer
group of members) to do specic and more detailed work than a large
Parliament can accomplish. Commiees are an integral part of the
legislative process. ey consider, modify, and debate bis, hear pub-
lic input on bis and issues, and do clause-by-clause analysis of a bi.
Commiees also examine departmental spending (estimates), consider
papers tabled in the House, order-in-council appointments, and deal
with other important maers as assigned by legislation or the House.
Commiees are smaer and more exible than the House. Prov-
incial legislative commiees could have seven to eight members and
federal commiees could have as many as een. e commiee mem-
bership is usuay a reection of the party standings in the House with
a similar proportional party standing in the commiees. Customs and
the Parliament’s standing orders dictate how the commiees are made
up in each jurisdiction.
In addition, since they are extensions of the House and aow direct
input from citizens, commiees are a great iustration of democracy at
work. Citizens can submit documents to the commiee in the form of
reports that are caed “briefs” federay and provinciay are sometimes
known as “exhibits” or “witness submissions.” Citizens can also appear
Chapter Five: Extrinsic Aids to Statutory Interpretation: Committees 93
as witnesses before the commiee to answer questions from members
and state their views. Commiees have the power to send for persons
and documents to complete their work. Commiees sometimes travel
and hold meetings throughout a jurisdiction to gather input.
ere are two kinds of commiees in the parliamentary commit-
tee system: permanent commiees and special commiees. Gener-
ay, each jurisdiction has permanent commiees that are assigned,
via standing orders, to consider business related to particular policy
areas or ministries. Federay and in Ontario, these permanent com-
miees are caed standing commiees, but commiee names dier
across the provinces. Special commiees are formed for a specic
purpose by the House or legislature and are dissolved once they com-
plete their report. Federay today these commiees are caed spe-
cial commiees. In Ontario they are caed select commiees and are
formed to examine and report on specic maers only.
Commiee materials are an important type of extrinsic aid that helps
to reveal the intention of Parliament. ey are a rich source of legis-
lative history as it is in commiee that members of Parliament wi
discuss a bi in detail and possibly amend it. In addition, experts pro-
vide the commiee with their opinions on the subject maer of the
proposed legislation. ese opinions and the commiee members’
responses and any reasons for the amendments are a recorded in the
commiee records.
Commiee reports are oen used as evidence of legislative intent.
In Nemeth v Canada, for example, Cromwe J explicitly stated that the
use of both the 1998 Minutes and Proceedings and the Sixteenth Report
of the Standing Commiee on Justice and Human Rights was admis-
sible, given the usual caveats about how much weight this evidence
should be aowed:
46 ese suspension provisions were added to the IRPAas conse-
quential amendments when theEA was enacted in 1999. eir pur-
pose was explained by Departmental officials testifying before

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