Canadian Unlicensed Firearms Owners Association
Association canadienne des propriétaires d’armes sans permis

Armes for Their Defense;
An Inherited, Historical, Canadian Right

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Saskatchewan Provincial Court
Biggar, Saskatchewan
18 September 2013

Biggar RCMP Firearms Confiscation Court Argument

Re: Criminal Code s. 117.03 RCMP Biggar occurrence number 2003-0980
firearms confiscation

I. Introduction:

1. The Firearms Act of 1995 and its attendant changes to the Criminal Code primarily does three things: - see Appendix A

1. makes the mere possession of a firearm illegal - Firearms Act s. 117,
2. sets a criminal penalty for unlicenced possession - CC. ss. 91(1) and 92(1),
3. allows for the confiscation of firearms – CC s. 117.03.

2. My associate Jack Wilson and I believe this law is unjust.

3. By peaceful, non-violent civil disobedience members of our Association and we have challenged this unjust law. On nine specific occasions we gave the federal government and the police advanced notice that we would be in possession of a firearm without a licence to possess it - twice in Ottawa, twice in Saskatoon, once here in Biggar and once in Wilkie, twice in Humboldt, and once in Craik, Saskatchewan.

4. We have been arrested and jailed five times; thrice in Ottawa, and twice in Saskatoon. The Crown in each case subsequently dropped all charges.

5. We have twice been through the complete court system here in Saskatchewan:

The Court of Appeal for Saskatchewan
Citation: 2009 SKCA 108 Date: 20090921 Docket: 1565

The Court of Appeal for Saskatchewan
Citation: 2011 SKCA 112 - Date: 05102011 - Docket: CACV2117

6. Only here in Biggar did the RCMP charge Mr. Wilson with a Criminal Code section 91(1) violation for his unlicenced possession of a firearm.

II. Background

7. On 11 September 2003 we notified Mr. Wayne Easter, Solicitor General of Canada and Sgt Kevin Weber, RCMP Detachment, Bigger, Saskatchewan, that we would be hunting on the Saskatchewan Wildlife Habitat Land at Argo Bush just southwest of Biggar, Saskatchewan, on Saturday 13 September 2003. We specifically declared that we would be in possession of a firearm without a licence to do so - see Appendix B.

8. On 13 September 2003 the Biggar RCMP answered our challenge. They detained Mr. Wilson for questioning, confiscated Mr. Wilson’s shotgun, and issued Mr. Wilson a summons to appear and answer a Criminal Code section 91(1) charge - see Appendix C.

9. When Mr. Wilson appeared in court, the Crown dropped the criminal charge.

10. But the RCMP retained Mr. Wilson’s shotgun.

11. Now, ten years later, the RCMP seek a court order to destroy Mr. Wilson’s property.

III. Complaint

12. We have a very serious complaint with the actions of the RCMP and the Crown.

13. This application is about much more that the potential destruction of a shotgun.

14. The Supreme Court of Canada has declared that:

"The Firearms Act constitutes a valid exercise of Parliament’s jurisdiction over criminal law."
Reference re Firearms Act (Can.), 2000 SCC 31, [2000] 1 S.C.R. 783
see Appendix D

15. We did what we did intentionally, knowing full well that the unlicenced possession of a firearm was illegal. We wanted to be charged; to be taken to court.

16. The RCMP interrupted our peaceful activity, detained us, seized Mr. Wilson's property, and appropriately ordered Mr. Wilson to appear in court on a charge of illegal possession of a firearm.

17. While under a criminal charge, a person has all the protections afforded by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, for example,

7. Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.
8. Everyone has the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure.
11. Any person charged with an offence has the right
(b) to be tried within a reasonable time;
(c) not to be compelled to be a witness in proceedings against that person in respect of the offence;
(d) to be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law in a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal;
(f) ... to the benefit of trial by jury where the maximum punishment for the offence is imprisonment for five years or a more severe punishment;

18. Inexplicably the Crown dropped the original section 91(1) criminal charge.

19. Yet the RCMP still seek to use Criminal Code section 117.03 to destroy Mr. Wilson's property.

20. Now, with no criminal charges, this section 117.03 strips Mr. Wilson of the enumerated Charter protections, specifically the presumption of innocence and the right to trial.

21. We submit that the RCMP and the Crown's "either/or" application of either Criminal Code section 91(1) or Criminal Code section 117.03 makes a mockery of the protections guaranteed citizens under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Rule of Law.

22. We specifically submit that the Crown and RCMP, in violation of the basis principles of the Rule of Law, have acted in an arbitrary manner.

23. We therefore submit that the actions of the RCMP and Crown are unconstitutional.


24. The constitutional status of the rule of law is beyond question. The preamble to the Constitution Act, 1982 states:

Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law.

Re: Manitoba Language Rights - see Appendix E


IV. Argument: The Rule of Law forbids arbitrary laws

25. John Locke:

"The Reason why Men enter into Society, is the preservation of their Property; and the end why they chuse and authorize a Legislature, is, that there may be Laws made, and Rules set as Guards and Fences to the Properties of all the Members of the Society,...;

"Whenever the Legislature endeavors to take away, and destroy the Property of the People, or to reduce them to Slavery under Arbitrary Power, they put themselves into a state of War with the People, who are thereupon absolved from any farther Obedience, and are left to the common Refuge, Which God hath provided for all Men, against Force and Violence."

- John Locke, The Second Treatise of Government, Edited with an introduction and notes by Peter Laslett, Cambridge University Press, 1988, § 222.

26. A. V. Dicey:

"When we speak of the ‘the rule of law’, ...
We mean in the first place that no man is punishable or can lawfully be made to suffer in body or goods except for a distinct breach of law established in the ordinary legal manner before the ordinary courts of the land."

Professor A.V. Dicey, An Introduction to the Study of the Law of the Constitution, 1885.

27. Friedrich A. Hayek:

"Freedom: independence of the arbitrary will of another." (p.12)

"The recognition of property is clearly the first step in the delimitation of the private sphere which protects us against coercion."

"The rule of law means that government must never coerce an individual except in the enforcement of a known rule, the rule of law constitutes a limitation on the powers of government, including the powers of the legislature. … ."

"The rule of law, of course, presuppose complete legality, but this is not enough: if a law gave the government unlimited power to act as it pleased, all its action would be legal, but it certainly not be under the rule of law." (p.140)

"The rule of law, therefore, is also more than constitutionalism: it requires that all laws conform to certain principles." (p.205)

"From the fact that the rule of law is a limitation upon the legislature, it follows that it cannot be law in the same sense as the law passed by the legislator. … The rule of law is therefore not a rule of the law, but a rule concerning what the law ought to be, a meta-legal doctrine … ."(p.206)

"The rule of law restricts government only in its coercive activities. … ."

"The chief means of coercion at the disposal of government is punishment.
Under the rule of law, government can infringe a person’s protected sphere only as a punishment for breaking an announced general rule. The principle “nullum crimen, nulla poena sine lege” is therefore the most important consequence of the ideal."

Nullum crimen, nulla poena sine praevia lege poenali (Latin, lit. "No crime, no punishment without a previous penal law")

"The rule of law presupposes a very definite conception of what is meant by law and that not every enactment of the legislative authority is a law in this sense. …
What distinguishes a free from an unfree society is that in the former each individual has a recognized private sphere clearly distinct from the public sphere and the private individual cannot be ordered about but is expected to obey the rules which are equally applicable to all." (pp.207/8)

"The rule of law requires that the executive in its coercive action be bound by the rules which prescribe not only when and where it may be use coercion but also in what manner it can do so."

"The only way in which this can be ensured is to make all its action of this kind subject to judicial review." (p.211)

"While in all civilized countries there exists some provision for an appeal to courts against administrative decisions, this often refers only to the question as to whether an authority had a right to do what it did. … ."

"If the law said that every thing a certain authority did was legal, it could not be restrained by a court from doing anything."

"What is required under the rule of law is that a court should have the power to decide whether the law provided for a particular action than an authority had taken. In other words, in all instances where administrative action interferes with the private individual, the courts must have the power to decide not only whether a particular action as intra vires or ultra vires but whether the substance of the administrative decision was such as the law demanded." (p.214)

"If bills of rights are to remain in any way meaningful, it must be recognized early that their intention was certainly to protect the individual against all vital infringements of his liberty and that therefore they must be presumed to contain a general clause protecting against the government’s interference those immunities which individuals in fact have enjoyed in the past." (p.216)

"Judicial forms are intended to insure that decisions will be made according to rules and not according to the desirability of particular ends or values."

"They are designed to make the law prevail, but they are powerless to protect justice where the law deliberately leaves the decision to the discretion of authority. It is only where the law decides – and this means only where independent court have the last word – that the procedural safeguards are safeguards of liberty."

"To use the trappings of judicial form where the essential conditions for a judicial decision are absent, or to give judges power to decide issues which cannot be decided by the application of rules, can have no effect but to destroy the respect of them even where they deserve it." (pp.218 - 219)

Friedrich A. Hayek, the Constitution of Liberty, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1960

28. Tom Bingham:

"If, as I think, the rule of law now demands protection of fundamental human rights … ." (p.32)

"Questions of legal right and liability should ordinarily be resolved by application of the law and not the exercise of discretion."

"Dicey was adamantly opposed to the conferment of discretionary decision-making powers on officials. This, he believed, opened the door to arbitrariness, which is the antithesis of the rule of law." (p.48)

"There is … profound truth in the observation of a great American justice, Justice Jackson, in the Supreme Court of the Untied States in 1949:
The framers of the Constitution knew, and we should not forget it today, that there is no more effective practical guaranty against arbitrary and unreasonable government than to require that the principle of law which officials would impose upon an minority must be imposed generally.

Conversely, nothing opens the door to arbitrary action so effectively as to allow those officials to pick and choose only a few to whom they will apply legislation … Courts can take no better action to assure that laws will be just than to require that laws be equal in operation." (pp. 58-59)

"The right to a fair trial is cardinal requirement of the rule of law. It is a right to be enjoyed, obviously and pre-eminently, in a criminal trial, but the rather ponderous language of this principle is choose to make clear that the right extends beyond criminal trial. It applies to civil trials, whoever is involved, … ."

"First it must be recognized that fairness means fairness to both sides, not just one. The procedure followed must give a fair opportunity for the prosecutor or claimant to prove his case as also to the defendant to rebut it."

"A trial is not a fair trial if the procedural dice are loaded in favour of one side or the other, if (in the phrase used in the European cases) there is no equality of arms." (p.90)

"Mr. S. Jayakumar, Deputy Prime Minister, co-coordinating Minister for National Security and Minister for Law of Singapore, was clear in his view:

In modern society, the value of the Rule of Law is that it is essential for good governance.

Governments must govern in accordance with established laws and conventions and not in an arbitrary manner." (p.172)

Tom Bingham, The Rule of Law, Penguin Books 2010

29. Jan Narveson:

"Legislated law is not all there is to law.
There is custom, common law, contractual law, and ultimately moral law."

"When the laws themselves may be as arbitrary as you like ... then the “protection” that the individual get at the hands of the law has turned into arbitrary tyranny of the very type that we might have hoped government would function to prevent."

"The wrong laws can kill us, and certainly impoverish us, at least effectively as no laws at all." (pp.138-139)

Jan Narveson, You and the State, Rowman & Litttlefield Toronto, 2008,

V. Conclusion

30. We seek not the simple return of Mr. Wilson's property.

31. As the Supreme Court reiterated in Manitoba Language Rights:

The Courts will not question the wisdom of enactments which, by the terms of the Canadian Constitution are within the competence of the Legislatures, but it is the high duty of this Court to insure that the legislatures do not transgress the limits of their constitutional mandate and engage in the illegal exercise of power.

32. We seek the Court's protection from the arbitrary application of laws.

33. We ask the Court to declare Criminal Code section 117.03 ultra vires Parliament.


submitted on behalf of:
Jack McKelvie Wilson
33- 2401 Koyl Avenue
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan S7K 5X

submitted by:
Edward B. Hudson, DVM, MS
402 Skeena Court
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan S7K 4H2

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Appendix A

The Firearms Act, section 117:

The Governor in Council may make regulations

(a) regarding the issuance of licenses, authorization certificates and authorizations, including regulation respecting the purposes for which they may be issued ... and prescribing the circumstances in which persons are or are not eligible to hold licences; ...

(c) prescribing the circumstances in which an individual does or does not need firearms

(1) to protect the life of that individual, ... .

The Firearms Act, chapter 39, Statues of Canada - 1995; p. 54

Criminal Code of Canada

Unauthorized Possession of Firearm

91. (1) Subject to subsections (4) and (5) and section 98, every person commits an offence who possesses a firearm unless the person is the holder of

(a) a licence under which the person may possess it; and
(b) a registration certificate for the firearm.

(3) Every person who commits an offence under subsection (1) or (2)

(a) is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years; or
(b) is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.

Possession of a Firearm Knowing Its Possession Is Unauthorized

92. (1) Subject to subsections (4) and (5) and subsection 98, every person commits an offence who possesses a firearm knowing that the person is not the holder of

(a) a licence under which the person may possess it; and
(b) a registration certificate for the firearm.

(3) Every person who commits an offence under subsections (1) and (2) is guilty of an indictable offence and liable

(a) in the case of the first offence, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years; ... .

Criminal Code of Canada
Section 117.03

Return of seized thing on production of authorization
Forfeiture of seized thing


(1) Notwithstanding section 117.02. a peace officer who finds

(a) a person in possession of a firearm who fails, on demand, to produce, for inspection by the peace officer, an authorization or a licence under which the person may lawfully possess the firearm and a registration certificate for the firearm, or ... .

may seize the firearm, prohibited weapon, restricted weapon, prohibited device or prohibited ammunition unless its possession by the person in the circumstances in which it is found is authorized by any provision of this Part, or the person is under the direct and immediate supervision of another person who may lawfully possess it.

(2) Where a person from whom any thing is seized pursuant to subsection (1) claims the thing within fourteen days after the seizure and produces for inspection by the peace officer by whom it was seized, or any other peace officer having custody of it,

(a) an authorization or a licence under which the person may lawfully possess it,

(b) in the case of a firearm, a registration certificate for the firearm,

the thing shall be forthwith returned to that person.

(3) Where any thing seized pursuant to subsection (1) is not claimed and returned as when provided by subsection (2), a peace officer shall forthwith take the thing before a provincial court judge, who may, after affording the person from whom it was seized or its owner, if known, an opportunity to establish that the person is lawfully entitled to possess it, declare it to be forfeited to Her Majesty, to be disposed of or otherwise dealt with as the Attorney General directs. 1995, c.39, s. 139.

*** *** ***

Appendix B

Notice to Biggar RCMP

Canadian Unregistered Firearms Owners Associaktion
402 Skeena Crt Saskatoon
Saskatchewan S7K 4H2
1-306-242-2379 1-306-249-2359 fax

The Honourable Wayne Easter, P.C., MP
Solicitor General of Canada
House of Commons, Parliament Buildings
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6
Thursday, 11 September 2003

Dear Mr. Easter,

Formal Notice: Hunting with an unregistered firearm and without a firearms possession license

We hereby officially inform you that members of CUFOA will be in the field hunting migratory game birds with an unregistered firearm and without a firearms possession license this Saturday, 13September2003.

We take this action deliberately. We are intentionally contravening the Firearms Act of 1995, purposefully being in open, public noncompliance.

The Firearms Act destroys our Canadian heritage and culture. This unjust law violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, specifically our rights to privacy, security of person, presumption of innocence, association, representation, mobility, and freedom from unreasonable search and seizure.

We will never submit to this unjust law. We will never surrender our Liberty to a law which is based upon a lie; a law which can never deliver the false promise of increased security. We demand the opportunity to have this unjust law declared unconstitutional in court.

We will be hunting on the Saskatchewan Wildlife Habitat Land at Argo Bush just southwest of Biggar, Saskatchewan. We will hunt on this site from 10 a.m. until noon. We have personally notified the Bigger RCMP Detachment, speaking directly with Constable Davies of our plans.

We will be hunting with an unregistered Cooey 12 gauge shotgun, serial number 39346, owned by Jack Wilson of 33 - 2401 Koyl Ave, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. You can easily verify that neither Mr. Wilson, nor this shotgun, are on record with the Canadian Firearms Center.

As we have consistently demonstrated in our previous seventeen public non-compliance actions all across Canada, everything we do will be peaceful and non-violent.

Mr. Easter, your government has wasted enough time and money on this futile exercise. Demonstrate your common sense. Protect our Canadian heritage of responsible firearms ownership and use.
Repeal this useless, unjust, unconstitutional law.


Edward B. Hudson DVM, MS
Secretary, CUFOA

CC: Prime Minister Jean Chrétien
      Garry Breitkreuz, MP
      Sgt Kevin Weber, RCMP Detachment, Bigger, SK

Appendix C


Appendix D

Reference re Firearms Act (Can.), 2000 SCC 31, [2000] 1 S.C.R. 783

Date: 2000-06-15
Docket: 26933
Parallel citations:
2000 SCC 31 (CanLII) • 261 A.R. 201 • 185 D.L.R. (4th) 577 • [2000] 10 W.W.R. 1 • 144 C.C.C. (3d) 385 • 34 C.R. (5th) 1 • 82 Alta. L.R. (3d) 1
Reference re Firearms Act (Can.), [2000] 1 S.C.R. 783

IN THE MATTER OF Section 27(1) of the Judicature Act,
R.S.A. 1980, chapter J-1

AND IN THE MATTER OF a Reference by the Lieutenant Governor in Council to the Court of Appeal of Alberta for hearing and consideration of the questions set out in Order in Council 461/96 respecting the Firearms Act, S.C. 1995, chapter 39


The Attorney General for Alberta


The Attorney General of Canada



File No.: 26933.

2000: February 21, 22; 2000: June 15.

Present: McLachlin C.J. and L’Heureux-Dubé, Gonthier, Iacobucci, Major, Bastarache, Binnie, Arbour and LeBel JJ.

on appeal from the court of appeal for alberta

In 1995, Parliament amended the Criminal Code by enacting the Firearms Act. The amendments require the holders of all firearms to obtain licences and register their guns. Alberta referred constitutional questions to the Court of Appeal to determine whether the licensing and registration provisions of the Firearms Act, as they relate to ordinary firearms, are intra vires Parliament. The majority of the Court of Appeal concluded that the Act is a valid exercise of Parliament’s criminal law power. Alberta appealed to this Court.

Held: The appeal should be dismissed. The impugned provisions of the Firearms Act are constitutional.
The Firearms Act constitutes a valid exercise of Parliament’s jurisdiction over criminal law. The Act in “pith and substance” is directed to enhancing public safety by controlling access to firearms. Its purpose is to deter the misuse of firearms, control those given access to guns, and control specific types of weapons. ... .

The Firearms Act possesses all three criteria required for a criminal law. Gun control has traditionally been considered valid criminal law because guns are dangerous and pose a risk to public safety. The regulation of guns as dangerous products is a valid purpose within the criminal law power. That purpose is connected to prohibitions backed by penalties.

The Firearms Act is not essentially regulatory legislation. The Act’s complexity does not necessarily detract from its criminal nature. Nor does the law give either the chief firearms officer or the Registrar undue discretion. The offences are clearly defined in the Act. The chief firearms officer and the Registrar are explicitly subject to the supervision of the courts. Further, the law’s prohibitions and penalties are not regulatory in nature. They are not confined to ensuring compliance with a scheme, but independently serve the purpose of public safety. Parliament’s intention was not to regulate property, but to ensure that only those who prove themselves qualified to hold a licence are permitted to possess firearms of any sort. Finally, Parliament may use indirect means to further the end of public safety.

The 1995 gun control scheme is distinguishable from existing provincial property regulation schemes. The Act addresses the aspects of gun control which relate to the dangerous nature of firearms and the need to reduce misuse. While ordinary guns are often used for lawful purposes, they are also used for crime and suicide, and cause accidental death and injury. Their control accordingly falls within the criminal law power.

The registration provisions cannot be severed from the rest of the Act. The licensing provisions require everyone who possesses a gun to be licensed; the registration provisions require all guns to be registered. These portions of the Firearms Act are both tightly linked to Parliament’s goal of promoting safety by reducing the misuse of any and all firearms. Both portions are integral and necessary to the operation of the scheme.

The Firearms Act does not trench on provincial powers such that upholding it as criminal law will upset the balance of federalism. ... .

56 ... Whether a law could have been designed better or whether the federal government should have engaged in more consultation before enacting the law has no bearing on the division of powers analysis applied by this Court.

If the law violates a treaty or a provision of the Charter, those affected can bring their claims to Parliament or the courts in a separate case.

The reference questions, and hence this judgment, are restricted to the issue of the division of powers.


Appendix E

Manitoba Language Rights,

Re Manitoba Language Rights, [1985] 1 S.C.R. 721, 1985 CanLII 33 (S.C.C.)

IN THE MATTER OF Section 55 of the Supreme Court Act, R.S.C. 1970, c. S-19, as amended;

AND IN THE MATTER OF a Reference by the Governor in Council concerning certain language rights under Section 23 of the Manitoba Act, 1870, and Section 133 of the Constitution Act, 1867 and set out in Order-in-Council P.C. 1984-1136 dated the 5th day of April 1984
File No.: 18606.

1984: June 11, 12, 13; 1985: June 13.

Present: Dickson C.J. and Beetz, Estey, McIntyre, Lamer, Wilson and Le Dain JJ.

48 The Constitution of a country is a statement of the will of the people to be governed in accordance with certain principles held as fundamental and certain prescriptions restrictive of the powers of the legislature and government. It is, as s. 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982 declares, the "supreme law" of the nation, unalterable by the normal legislative process, and unsuffering of laws inconsistent with it.

The duty of the judiciary is to interpret and apply the laws of Canada and each of the provinces, and it is thus our duty to ensure that the constitutional law prevails.

49 As this Court said in Amax Potash Ltd. v. Government of Saskatchewan, [1977] 2 S.C.R. 576, at p. 590:

A state, it is said, is sovereign and it is not for the Courts to pass upon the policy or wisdom of legislative will. As a broad statement of principle that is undoubtedly correct, but the general principle must yield to the requisites of the constitution in a federal state. By it the bounds of sovereignty are defined and supremacy circumscribed.

The Courts will not question the wisdom of enactments which, by the terms of the Canadian Constitution are within the competence of the Legislatures, but it is the high duty of this Court to insure that the legislatures do not transgress the limits of their constitutional mandate and engage in the illegal exercise of power.

62 Such results would certainly offend the rule of law. As we stated in the Patriation Reference, supra, at pp. 805-06:

The "rule of law" is a highly textured expression ... conveying, for example, a sense of orderliness, of subjection to known legal rules and of executive accountability to legal authority. … .

63 The constitutional status of the rule of law is beyond question. The preamble to the Constitution Act, 1982 states:

Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law.

This is explicit recognition that "the rule of law [is] a fundamental postulate of our constitutional structure" (per Rand J., Roncarelli v. Duplessis, [1959] S.C.R. 121, at p. 142).

The rule of law has always been understood as the very basis of the English Constitution characterising the political institutions of England from the time of the Norman Conquest (A.V. Dicey, The Law of the Constitution (10th ed. 1959), at p. 183).

It becomes a postulate of our own constitutional order by way of the preamble to the Constitution Act, 1982, and its implicit inclusion in the preamble to the Constitution Act, 1867 by virtue of the words "with a Constitution similar in principle to that of the United Kingdom".

64 Additional to the inclusion of the rule of law in the preambles of the Constitution Acts of 1867 and 1982, the principle is clearly implicit in the very nature of a Constitution. The Constitution, as the Supreme Law, must be understood as a purposive ordering of social relations providing a basis upon which an actual order of positive laws can be brought into existence.

The founders of this nation must have intended, as one of the basic principles of nation building, that Canada be a society of legal order and normative structure: one governed by rule of law.

While this is not set out in a specific provision, the principle of the rule of law is clearly a principle of our Constitution.

65 This Court cannot take a narrow and literal approach to constitutional interpretation. The jurisprudence of the Court evidences a willingness to supplement textual analysis with historical, contextual and purposive interpretation in order to ascertain the intent of the makers of our Constitution.