Proportionality as a Remedial Principle: A Framework for Suspended Declarations of Invalidity in Canadian Constitutional Law


  • Grant R. Hoole BA(Hons), LLB, BCL, LLM, member of the Bar of Ontario.



The aim of this article is to provide an analytic framework for the governance of suspended declarations of invalidity in Canadian constitutional law. A suspended declaration is a remedial device by which a court strikes down a constitutionally invalid law, but suspends the effect of its order such that the law retains force for a temporary period. While introduced to Canadian law under circumstances of exigency, suspended declarations have grown to be used liberally by the courts, and the principles that previously confined them have been abandoned. As a result, constitutional rights — including those protected in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms — have sometimes been suspended without just basis. I propose a means to reverse this trend: by adopting proportionality, a core feature of the analytic method used to adjudicate limitations on Charter rights, as a remedial principle guiding the use of suspended declarations. Proportionality analysis is capable of navigating the features of remedial discretion engaged by suspended declarations, while reconciling the latter with Canada’s constitutional principles.