period of November 1 to October 31 immediately preceding the date of
the pension increase.
 As both sets of counsel point out, the proper interpretation
of this provision depends on the importance one ascribes to the
comma after the words “Consumer Price Index”.
 This, of course, may seem an odd, or perhaps an excessively
minute detail to be determinative of a case that impacts on some
 The Nova Scotia Supreme Court, on the other hand, has
quoted approvingly from Pierre André Coté, Interpretation of Legislation in Canada, 2nd ed. (Cowansville: Y. Blais, 1991), p. 63, to
the effect that, “Punctuation, particularly the comma, is essential
to written communication, and judges cannot totally ignore it”:
Bell v. Canada (Attorney General),  N.S.J. No. 303, 2001
NSSC 112, para. 33. Grammar and language interpretation texts
tend to suggest, correctly, that where usages are standardized,
punctuation marks, including the humble comma, can signal
a significant modification of how one reads a series of nouns in
a list: Ruth Sullivan, Driedger On the Construction of Statutes,
3rd ed. (Toronto: Butterworths, 1994), p. 277.
 Despite its frequent use in clarifying the point of a sentence, “the comma has earned its notoriety as a troublemaker”:
Hamilton v. Nerbas,  A.J. No. 1358, 2008 ABQB 674, para.
1. Efforts to base decisions strictly on its presence or absence in
a sentence in a contract or legislative provision have proved fruitless, as that type of grammarian analysis ignores both policy and
textual context. In one renowned case, the Canadian Radio and
Television Commission reversed itself in a sequence of rulings,
first determining that the presence of a comma in the English
version of a contract clarified the effective date of the contract