In two cases decided in the 1990s, the Supreme Court of Canada rejected the doctrine that courts cannot consider the international legal context of a provision they are interpreting unless there is some ambiguity on the face of the statute or regulation that permits resort to international law. The Supreme Court has since embraced international law as a contextual consideration in statutory interpretation, leaving the ambiguity doctrine behind. But the Federal Court of Appeal recently cited one of its own precedents on ambiguity (National Corn Growers) despite that decision having been overturned by the top court on this very point. The FCA seems divided on the issue, with some members following SCC precedent and others trying to bring ambiguity back.
In Ontario (Children’s Lawyer) v. Ontario (Information and Privacy Commissioner) 2018 ONCA 559 (18 June 2018), Benotto JA for the Court of Appeal for Ontario invokes the Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989 repeatedly (and in my view correctly) despite its supposedly unimplemented status in Canadian law. She frames her use of the Convention as part of the contextual approach to statutory interpretation without purporting to apply the presumption of conformity with international law. But the end result is the same: an interpretation of domestic law in line with our treaty obligations.