The United Church of Canada Act article 28(b) permitted:
"the United Church to legislate in all matters concerning its doctrine, worship, discipline and government, including therein the right and power from time to time to frame, adopt, alter, change, add to or modify its laws, subordinate standards and formulas and to determine and declare the same or any of them, but subject to the conditions and safeguards in that behalf contained in the Basis of Union".
The safeguards may not be altered and include:
- "that before any rule or law relative to these matters can become a permanent law, it must receive the approval of a majority of the Presbyteries, and, if advisable, pastoral charges also"
- "that no terms of admission to full membership shall be prescribed other than those laid down in the New Testament"
- "that the freedom of worship at present enjoyed in the negotiating Churches shall not be interfered with in the United Church"
and that legislation respecting property is:
- "subject to the limitations elsewhere provided in the Basis of Union, and subject also to the approval of the Conference in which the property is situated".
The United Church of Canada Act article 18(h) permitted the church:
"to make such by-laws, rules or regulations as it may deem expedient for the exercise of any powers conferred by this Act".
The United Church of Canada Act article 24 permitted:
"all resolutions passed by the General Council shall have the force and effect of by-laws..."
The expression "in essential agreement" has wrongly been used in reference to official statements of the church as the Manual uses the term only with ministry personnel, and nowhere permits its courts to deviate from matters of doctrine, worship, discipline or government as found in the basis of union without remit.
The principle of unreasonableness would question a court responsible for legislation making official statement "in essential agreement" for that which it could not legislate, given "all resolutions passed by the General Council shall have the force and effect of by-laws...".
The Basis of Union is the authority under which the United Church of Canada functions.
The bylaws passed by General Council are specific interpretations of the doctrine and polity of The Basis of Union, and as such are authoritative.
The bylaws, policy, official statements, and other motions passed by General Council require that these be subject to the conditions and safeguards of The Basis of Union.
The Basis of Union provides that it might be changed only by the process described in The Basis of Union 8.6.2(1), but does not preclude a questioning of its doctrine and polity.