Canadian courts are approaching the task of mediating the relationship between international law and domestic law with newfound energy. Yet, for all their declared openness to international law, courts are still inclined to avoid deciding cases on the basis of international law. This does not mean that international law is given no effect or that its broad relevance is denied. The avoidance strategy is more subtle: even when they invoke or refer to international law, Canadian courts generally do not give international norms concrete legal effect in individual cases. Although international law is brought to bear on a growing range of questions, its potential impact is tempered — and we fear largely eviscerated — because it is merely one factor in the application and interpretation of domestic law. Within the Canadian legal order the question of “bindingness” of international law is closely intertwined with the manner in which it comes to influence the interpretation of domestic law. In the case of norms that are binding on Canada under international law, Canadian courts have an obligation to interpret domestic law in conformity with the relevant international norms, as far as this is possible. By contrast, norms that do not bind Canada internationally (for example, soft law or provisions of treaties not ratified by Canada) can help inform the interpretation of domestic law and, depending on the norm in question and the case at issue, may even be persuasive. Courts may, and in some cases should, draw upon such norms for interpretative purposes, but they are not strictly speaking required to do so. However, especially following the Supreme Court’s decision in Baker, there appears to be a trend towards treating all of international law, whether custom or treaty, binding on Canada or not, implemented or unimplemented, in the same manner — as relevant and perhaps persuasive, but not as determinative, dare we say obligatory. Our concern is that if international law is merely persuasive, it becomes purely optional, and can be ignored at the discretion of the judge. We argue that it is not enough to treat all normative threads in this fashion — over time this approach risks weakening the fabric of the law.