Justice Wilson’s concurring reasons for judgment in the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in National Corn Growers Assn. v. Canada (Import Tribunal) represent the most elaborate expression of her thinking about the rationales for judicial deference to the decisions of administrative tribunals and the methodology courts should employ in approaching judicial review of the decisions of administrative tribunals. A great deal of development has taken place in Canadian thinking about judicial review since that decision was released on November 8, 1990, but Justice Wilson’s articulation of the reasons courts should defer to the interpretation given by tribunals to their enabling legislation continues to influence contemporary judicial review jurisprudence, as does her criticism of excessive segmentation of tribunal decisions during the course of judicial review. On the other hand, it was evident to commentators in the wake of the National Corn Growers decision that Justice Wilson’s reasons were deficient as a unifying the ory of substantive judicial review of administrative decision-making. This paper seeks to evaluate Justice Wilson’s reasoning in the National Corn Growers case in light of subsequent judicial attempts to develop a more comprehensive approach to common law judicial review of substantive administrative decision-making in Canada. The author concludes that Justice Wilson’s approach to judicial review managed to avoid certain pitfalls that were to plague later attempts to develop a unified the ory of substantive judicial review. Nevertheless, in the author’s view her reasons share with more recent jurisprudence the weakness that insufficient attention is paid to the considerations that justify judicial intervention notwithstanding a more general posture of deference to tribunal decision-making.
"Justice Wilson’s Administrative Law Legacy: The National Corn Growers Decision and Judicial Review of Administrative Decision-Making."
The Supreme Court Law Review: Osgoode’s Annual Constitutional Cases Conference
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