33 Dalhousie L.J. 161 (2010)
Long Overdue: A Reappraisal of Section 121 of the Constitution Act, 1867

handle is hein.journals/dalholwj33 and id is 363 raw text is: Ian A. Blue*          Long Overdue: A Reappraisal of Section 121
of the Constitution Act, 1867
This article offers a new interpretation of s. 121 of the Constitution Act, 1867.
The author re-evaluates the traditional interpretation of s. 121, found in Gold Seal
Limited v. The Attorney General of the Province of Alberta. That interpretation
limited the application of s. 121 to prohibiting interprovincial customs duties
but nothing else. The author analyzes s. 121 using a purposive approach. After
reviewing the provision's wording, legislative history, legislative context and its
place within the scheme of the Act, the article concludes that a purposive and
progressive interpretation leads to a more robust role for s. 121. Thus interpreted,
s. 121 would prohibit any impediment to the free flow of goods across Canada
and the imposition of any obligation on the movement of Canadian goods that in
its essence is related to a provincial boundary, subject to regulation of subsidiary
features. The author also analyzes Gold Seal and other s. 121 jurisprudence.
He contends that the Supreme Court's interpretation of s. 121 in Gold Seal is
inconsistent with the modern purposive approach to constitutional interpretation
and resulted from expediency
L'article prdsente une nouvelle interpr6tation de l'art. 121 de la Loi constitutionnelle
de 1867 L'auteur rdexamine I'interpr6tation traditionnelle de l'art. 121 6noncde
dans Gold Seal Limited v. The Aftorney-General for The Province Of Alberta.
Cette interpr~tation limitait 'application de P'art. 121 1 interdire l'imposition de
droits de douane interprovinciaux, mais rien d'autre. L'auteur analyse l'art. 121
en utilisant une interprdtation tdlologique. Apr~s avoir examind la formulation,
I'historique I6gislatif, le contexte 1egislatif et la place de 'article dans la structure
de la Loi, il conclut qu'une interprdtation td/dologique et progressiste mane a un
rdle plus important pour 'art. 121. Interpr6td de cette fagon, 'art. 121 interdirait
tout obstacle . la libre circulation de biens partout au Canada et ('imposition de
quelque restriction sur le mouvement de produits canadiens qui, essentiellement,
est assimilable & une frontibre provinciale, sous reserve de rdglementation de ses
aspects secondaires. L'auteur a en outre analys6 l'arrt Gold Seal et une partie
de la jurisprudence mettant en cause 'art. 121. 11 pretend que I'interprdtation
de la Cour suprdme dans l'arrdt Gold Seal est incompatible avec l'approche
t6l6ologique moderne de l'interpretation constitutionnelle et qu'elle est le fait de
Iopportunisme.
*   Ian A. Blue, Q.C., is a commercial litigator and energy lawyer at Gardiner Roberts LLP in
Toronto (iblue@gardiner-roberts.com). This paper consolidates and extends the analysis found in
Ian Blue, On the Rocks; Section 121 of the Constitution Act, 1867, and the Constitutionality of the
Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act (2009), 35 Adv Q 306 and in Ian Blue, On the Rocks; The
Gold Seal Case: A Surprising Second Look (2010), 36 Adv Q 363. Many thanks to Librarian Cathy
Mark and former students Jessica Fingerhut, Stephen Hutchison and Geoff Breen for their assistance.
Above all, thanks to long-time assistant Susanna Ho for producing flawless drafts quickly and

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