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Rules - clear and plainly written vs. unreadable and convoluted?

02-Jul-2012 [1509]

• Many rules that govern parks are written in difficult, convoluted language. An alternative? Some Canadian legislators, provinces and advocates have argued that laws should be clearly written - in plain language.

Here are the 7 laws, policies and guidelines we've come upon so far as we tried to answer a simple question - what are the rules for our local wading pools? Just to begin to try to read and understand The Health Protection and Promotion Act is simply too unfriendly, complex, and trying for most people.

In 1992, Ian Waddell, then MP for Port Moody-Coquitlam, introduced a Private Members' Bill in the House of Commons to promote the use of plain language in federal rule-making. In his article, he notes that:

It is a principle of our system that ignorance of the law is no excuse for breaking it. So it follows that if people are to be responsible, they should be able to understand the law. Legislators should be required to say what they mean and the public should be able to clearly understand the full intent of government action without help from a dozen lawyers.

Interestingly, the Wikipedia entry for the plain language movement notes that: "Organizations that have endorsed plain language include the Legal Writing Institute, the Canadian Bar Association, and the Canadian Bankers Association."