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Edwards v A.G Canada [1930] AC 123, 1 DLR 98 (PC)


The appellants brought the case before the court to have the SCC rule that based on s.24 women could be considered candidates for the Senate.
The first decision was the women were excluded from the meaning of “persons”
The word “persons” in s.24 does include women in the Privy Council decision.


Do the words “qualified persons” in s. 24 of the BNA Act 1867 include women? And therefore are women eligible to be called and become members of the senate?


1. Acts (Constitution, Statute) that refer to “persons” are referring to both the male and female sexes. (there is some debate about this)

2. The words ‘qualified persons’ in the BNA act in s.24 include women and therefore women are eligible to become members of the senate


When determining the meaning of a particular word in an Act of Parliament you must consider:
1. The external evidence derived from extraneous circumstances such as previous legislation and decided cases
2. The internal evidence derived from the Act itself.

The BNA act planted in Canada a living tree capable of growth and expansion within its natural limits. (paragraph 44) – Constitution should be given a large and liberal meaning.

They could not find anything in the sections that excludes women.
**Limitations should be express

Will only set aside the 1st decision having regard:
1. To the object of the Act
2. The word “person” is ambiguous and may include members of either sex
3. Some sections of the act show that persons include women
4. That in some sections the word “male persons” are expressly used.
5. To the provisions of the Interpretation Act


The use of the word “persons” on s.24 includes both males and females. Therefore women are eligible to be summoned to and become members of the Senate


Ambiguous language should constructed in favor of inclusion

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