Statutes Repeal Act

An Act to repeal legislation that has not come into force within ten years of receiving royal assent

This bill was last introduced in the 39th Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in October 2007.

Status

Not active, as of April 23, 2007
(This bill did not become law.)

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Statutes Repeal ActRoutine Proceedings

December 12th, 2007 / 3:40 p.m.
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Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The Chair is satisfied that this bill is in the same form as Bill S-202 was at the time of prorogation of the 1st session, 39th Parliament.

Accordingly, pursuant to Standing Order 86.2 the bill is deemed read the second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

(Bill read the second time and referred to a committee)

Statutes Repeal ActRoutine Proceedings

December 12th, 2007 / 3:40 p.m.
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Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

moved that Bill S-207, An Act to repeal legislation that has not come into force within ten years of receiving royal assent, be read the first time.

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to reintroduce and once again sponsor Bill S-207, An Act to repeal legislation that has not come into force within ten years of receiving royal assent. Pursuant to Standing Order 86.2, I wish to state that this bill is in the same form as Bill S-202, which was before the House in the first session, and I ask that this bill be reinstated.

(Motion agreed to and bill read the first time)

Statutes Repeal ActPrivate Members' Business

April 23rd, 2007 / 11:55 a.m.
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Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, Bill S-202 has been proposed a number of times since 2002.

If members had read the summary they would have gotten the idea that there were some solutions in it to some of the questions that were raised. The summary states that the enactment provides that any act or provision of an act, i.e. a part of an act, that is to come into force on a day to be fixed by proclamation or order of the governor in council must be included in an annual report laid before both houses of Parliament if it does not come into force by the December 31 that is nine years after it receives royal assent. The act or provisions are repealed if they do not come into force by the following December 31, unless during that year either house, the Commons or the Senate, passes a resolution that it not be repealed.

There is that stop period in case matters come before either house that would make proper argument that repeal should not take place.

The enactment applies to all acts, whether introduced in either house. It applies to government bills, private members' bills, public bills and private bills that provide for a coming into force to be set by the governor in council.

This is simply a summary, but I would like to point out that the reaction of parliamentarians thus far has been somewhat of astonishment that there could be 57 bills that have received royal assent and have not come into force. What is happening? Never mind after nine years, why is there not an annual report of all the bills that have received royal assent and have not been proclaimed. The report could provide a basic statement for the reasons the acts have not been put into force.

I understand there are some bills that have some regulations that are very complex. For example, the reproductive technologies regulations took about two years to develop and they still have not been fully implemented. We can understand how some bills can take time and there is good reason, but in many of the bills it is clear from my review of them that there is no good reason for the failure to proclaim them.

We have had a very thoughtful debate at second reading. There have been some interesting propositions about how the bill may be further improved and considered by the standing committee which will call the necessary witnesses. Let us make absolutely sure that the legislation substantiates the wish we make each day as we say our prayer that we make good laws and wise decisions.

I thank all hon. members who participated in the debate. I believe there is broad support for at least approval in principle at second reading. Let us move the bill to committee so that we can consider further Bill S-202 on behalf of Senator Tommy Banks.

Statutes Repeal ActPrivate Members' Business

April 23rd, 2007 / 11:50 a.m.
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Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to make a few remarks about Bill S-202, the statutes repeal act.

This bill as adopted in the other place is a valuable initiative. Like my hon. colleague, I am concerned about amending it to reduce from 10 to five years the period after which legislation could be repealed. I do not believe the purpose of the bill is to bring legislation into force as soon as possible. The appropriate time to do so is when the right conditions are in place, not as soon as possible. The real problem to be addressed is how to prevent the government from delaying indefinitely the coming into force of legislation.

Bill S-202 provides a good solution. By now we are all familiar with the process that Bill S-202 proposes to put in place. I do not intend to describe it in detail; I would prefer to focus on the problem it attempts to solve.

When Parliament is not in a position to bring an act or provision into force on royal assent, or identify a day for its coming into force, it has to rely on another mechanism to ensure that the legislation comes into force at the right time. The usual mechanism is to delegate to the government the power to select the day on which the act or provision would come into force. This is because the government should be in a better position after royal assent to assess when that time should be.

As we know, once Parliament has delegated to the governor in council the power to fix the coming into force date of legislation, it is a matter for the government to decide. As long as it considers from time to time the appropriateness of bringing the legislation into force, it has fulfilled its duties.

Until now, the only sanction the government could expect for failing to bring legislation into force was criticism in Parliament or elsewhere. Bill S-202 would ensure that the government could not consider indefinitely when legislation should come into force.

After 10 years the legislation would be repealed by operation of the law. By repealing the legislation after 10 years, Bill S-202 would ensure that the government seriously and regularly considered bringing legislation into force or it would lose the power to do so.

In addition, the reasons behind decisions not to bring legislation into force would have to be presented before Parliament in order for a resolution to be adopted deferring the repeal of the legislation. The bill would not, however, allow the government to easily dispense with legislation that it does not intend to implement at any time.

The report tabled annually by the minister of justice would put Parliament on notice that the acts and provisions it lists could be repealed at the end of the year. Any member of either house of Parliament could seek to prevent the repeal of legislation by proposing a resolution to that effect. In short, the government would have to publicly account to Parliament for the way it has exercised the power delegated by Parliament.

This new mechanism would improve our legislative process by implementing a mandatory parliamentary oversight nine years after powers have been delegated to the government to bring legislation into force. This would be an original process which has no equivalent, to my knowledge, in any of the Canadian legislatures.

Without any point of comparison, it is difficult to assess what would be the best parameter. Should legislation be repealed after 10 or five years? It is hard to assess, but considering how long it would take to re-enact legislation that would be repealed under this bill, should that be found necessary, I suggest that it might be better to keep a higher threshold. Therefore, in this regard, I disagree with the Bloc member who spoke earlier in favour of the five year threshold.

As my hon. colleague from Prince Edward—Hastings has mentioned before, there are many valid reasons why legislation might take time to be brought into force. I am concerned that if the repeal period were reduced from 10 to five years, the government might often be put in a situation where the conditions or circumstances necessary for bringing some legislation into force would not yet exist.

For example, not all the provinces or territories are ready to participate in a program or put in place a procedure needed to implement federal legislation. The procedures for enforcing federal offences under the Contraventions Act are a case in point. To keep such necessary legislation alive, the government would have to request either house of Parliament to adopt a resolution every year for a number of years.

A resolution is a good and transparent way to decide if an exemption from repeal should be allowed, but if after four years we have to seek resolutions to legislation that might take over 10 years to implement, it seems to me that Parliament would devote a lot of time to the same question that it cannot resolve because the coming into force depends on external factors. A good example of this is the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Implementation Act which was enacted in 1998.

Statutes Repeal ActPrivate Members' Business

April 23rd, 2007 / 11:35 a.m.
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Conservative

Daryl Kramp Conservative Prince Edward—Hastings, ON

Mr. Speaker, on many occasions in the House we have differences on all sides of the House, sometimes minor and sometimes sharp, but today it is a pleasure to see a fair degree of unanimity in dealing with the occasionally mundane, but most necessary, mechanics of the efficient operation of the House.

It is for that reason that I am glad to have the opportunity to comment in a positive manner on Bill S-202. It is an important initiative and one that I know most, if not all, members of our party fully support.

Today I will focus my comments on the question of how much oversight would be appropriate in respect of the coming into force of legislation considering all the other responsibilities that Parliament has to discharge. To be more to the point, I would like to address the question of how soon Parliament's attention should be drawn to the fact that particular acts or provisions have not been brought into force.

As we know, Bill S-202 would require the Minister of Justice to report at the beginning of each calendar year on all acts and provisions that have not been brought into force in the past nine years. These acts and provisions would be repealed at the end of the year unless during the year they were brought into force or exempted from repeal by a resolution of either Houses of Parliament.

The only basis on which legislation would be reported would be how much time has passed since it was adopted by Parliament. No partisan or political motives could influence the content of this report, and to me that is very important. This single criterion ensures that at one point in time every provision that has not been brought into force will be brought to the attention of Parliament and the government will need to account for it.

The downside, if I may use that expression, of having this single criterion is that it treats all acts and provisions in the same way, regardless of their significance, which may range from granting important rights to making relatively minor technical amendments.

During the December debate, the hon. member for Rivière-du-Nord suggested that a 10 year period following the adoption of legislation was far too long and that any legislation that has not been brought into force within 5 years should be repealed. I would like to express some concerns about reducing the timeframe from 10 years to 5 years as she suggested.

Under the current 10 year period, the first report to be tabled by the Minister of Justice would include four complete acts and provisions in about 60 statutes. We need to keep in mind that the first report should be the longest because it will cover old legislation. That kind of systematic repeal of obsolete provisions was last done by the statute revision of 1985. We would expect the following reports to be shorter after the first set of repeals have been made under Bill S-202.

I have had the benefit of looking at a list of all acts and provisions that would be added to the list of legislation to be repealed if the bill were amended, as suggested by the hon. member, to refer to a five year period of repeal instead of a ten year period. This simple change would add one complete statute, the Specific Claims Resolution Act, and over 150 provisions in 18 statutes. That is a lot of legislation to be reviewed by Parliament.

When I compared the results created by reducing the repeal period from 10 years to 5 years, it left me with the impression that a number of these additional provisions would probably have been brought into force between 5 years and 10 years. I am concerned about spending too much time too soon on provisions that would probably not appear on the same list five years later because they would already have been dealt with in the meantime.

Multiple consequential amendments are sometimes dependent on a single action to be completed. For example, the Cape Breton Development Corporation Divestiture Authorization and Dissolution Act provides for the dissolution of the corporation and some things can only be done once the corporation is dissolved. For the same reasons, some provisions, for example deleting references to that corporation, can only be brought into force once the corporation ceases to exist.

We can find such provisions in the five year list but they would likely not appear on a ten year list. Is it the best use of Parliament's time then to simply review such provisions?

I understand the importance and am in favour of having proper parliamentary oversight but I am concerned that in most of these cases added by a five year rule it would simply exceed what is necessary to keep track of implementation of legislation by government. In other words, during the due course of time it will probably be dealt with.

I am not the sponsor of Bill S-202 but, from the previous debates at the other place, I understand that the aim of the bill is not to simply repeal everything as soon as possible.

As I mentioned last December, there are valid reasons why some legislation takes time to be implemented. I do not believe anyone in this House is in disagreement with this point. The effect of the bill would be to provide an opportunity to consider the validity of these reasons at some point in time.

What would be the point of asking Parliament to spend time on so many items that would eventually have been resolved anyway? Considering that it often takes years for particular statutes to be adopted by Parliament, is it necessary to systematically start reviewing their coming into force as quickly as four years after their adoption? In very particular cases, Parliament provides that a review of an act be undertaken after five or ten years. This is an exceptional measure to monitor the impact of significant legislation, like the Anti-terrorism Act which touches on fundamental rights and values.

The purpose of Bill S-202 is not to provide for such parliamentary review across the board. I am concerned that not all provisions that would fall under the five year timeframe would be of such an extraordinary importance as to require Parliament's attention after simply a few years of their enactment. If they are so important as to require Parliament's attention, nothing prevents parliamentarians from asking the responsible minister what is happening in that respect and questions can be raised much sooner than before the end of five years.

Although I concede there is no magic in the particular number of years, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, it seems to me that when legislation has not been brought into force within ten years there are reasons to be concerned that nothing has been done to bring it into force. However, relatively few acts and provisions should survive this timeframe.

I mentioned last December that there can be valid reasons why legislation might take a significant time to bring into force. These reasons often have to do with the need to make administrative arrangements before implementing new programs or measures, or the time required to coordinate them with provincial, territorial or foreign governments. Parliament, though, should be entitled, as provided in Bill S-202, to receive answers.

The other point I would like to make in this respect is that once a piece of legislation appears on the list in a given year, a resolution of either Houses of Parliament will be required to save it from repeal at the end of the year and such resolution will be required every year until the legislation is finally implemented or repealed.

Do we really want to hear about an international treaty implementation act every year for five years? Quite frankly, no. This House has many pressing, urgent, necessary and demanding issues to be dealt with but it is quite common for legislation like that to take years to implement. Parliament's time is precious and it should not be spent on issues that would be resolved in due time.

I am all in favour of a process that would require the government to explain thoroughly why legislation adopted by Parliament has not been brought into force. However, I am concerned that if we put in place a threshold that is too low, like a review within five years, we would spend time on issues that would have been resolved if we had simply waited a few more years. By waiting until 10 years, chances are that only significant problems would reach Parliament. Is that not our duty? It seems to me to be a much better use of Parliament's resources.

Finally, I will repeat that if a situation requires Parliament's attention before 10 years because it is pressing, it is urgent or it is a matter that should be dealt with by Parliament, nothing really prevents any member of the House to ask for explanations from the responsible minister.

Statutes Repeal ActPrivate Members' Business

April 23rd, 2007 / 11:15 a.m.
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NDP

Bill Siksay NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, this morning I am honoured to address Bill S-202, the statutes repeal act.

Let me begin by congratulating the member for Joliette on his appointment as House leader for the Bloc Québécois. I know that he will bring his not only his experience but his commitment to this place to that job. I also want to thank the member for Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean for his work in that position up to this point. They are different MPs, I know, and they bring different perspectives to that important task in this place.

I also want to thank the member for Mississauga South for presenting this Senate bill, the statutes repeal act, here in the House for our consideration. I know that it comes out of his commitment to the functioning of this place. He takes a great interest in how the chamber works and I appreciate his initiative around this important legislation.

As we have heard, this legislation seeks to address the fact that a number of pieces of legislation have never come into effect. They have never been enacted even though they have passed through the legislative process here in the House and also in the other place. For some reason, the government has chosen not to enact them.

That came as somewhat of a surprise to me even though I have worked in this place for many years. The fact that the government could choose not to implement legislation that had been passed by the House of Commons and the Senate, that it had that prerogative, is something that I still find passing strange. I find it strange that governments would sponsor legislation, take it through the process in both chambers, with members giving it their due and careful consideration, and see it go through all the stages of the various readings in the House and Senate and ultimately be passed, yet for some reason choose not to implement that legislation, and it would also not seek to repeal that legislation. It would just let it sit there on the books without effect for many years.

Indeed, I understand how that is a problem and I understand the need for some kind of housekeeping measures, both to bring accountability for the legislative process and to ensure that governments are doing their duty and following the will of the legislative branch of our government. I think this bill is a very important piece of legislation. It is important to consider what we do with legislation that has been on the books for many years and has not been enacted.

Generally there are several ways in which this is dealt with in legislation. All legislation has a coming into effect clause, which is usually the last clause of the legislation and which talks about when the legislation will come into effect. In some legislation that is very clearly stated: that it comes into effect at the point of royal assent or sometimes on a specific timetable with specific dates. In those cases, there is not a problem in terms of that legislation not becoming effective, not being enacted and not actually being carried out.

The problem is in the situation where the coming into effect legislation talks about the date to be determined by the governor in council, when the government is given the opportunity to determine the timeline for the coming into effect of legislation. Often there is a good reason for that. It may be that there are further negotiations with other levels of government that have to happen. It may be that regulations have to be developed to allow for the implementation of that legislation.

However, it is in those situations that the prerogative begins for the government to delay or even not implement legislation. That is where I think we need to be more diligent, perhaps, as members of Parliament. I certainly will be careful to look at that clause in any legislation that I am directly involved with in this place in the future, because I think that is where we as legislators can exercise our abilities to ensure that the legislation we work on and support comes into effect in a reasonable length of time and actually does happen. I think that is a place where we need to be more careful.

I would also hope that governments might take more direct responsibility in a situation where problems do crop up with legislation that has been passed but which governments feel they cannot go forward with. They should take responsibility to bring back legislation to repeal something that has already been passed, to convince the people in this place, who have responsibility for the people of Canada to work on that legislation and to make judgments about that legislation. A government must give representatives the opportunity to understand the problems with the legislation as the government sees it and to make a decision about whether it should go forward or not.

We have heard that there are two complete bills, the Motor Vehicle Fuel Consumption Standards Act from the early 1980s and the Canadian Heritage Languages Institute Act from the early 1990s that have not been implemented. I do not know what was in those pieces of legislation that caused them to not be implemented by the government. When I see the title of the first one, the Motor Vehicle Fuel Consumption Standards Act, I wonder if it had come into effect we might have solved some of the problems that we are facing today since it seemed to be an early attempt to deal with that important issue back in the 1980s.

I also understand that there are 57 other pieces of legislation that would be affected by this bill and it seems reasonable that there should be a review of that legislation. However, I want to make sure that we do not lose the opportunity to hold governments accountable for important legislation that was passed, and that we do indulge and we are careful about the politics between the legislative branch and the executive branch of government. We sometimes have to as legislators push the governor in council, the government, to act on legislation and for very good reasons.

I will use as an example my experience since I arrived in this place with a piece of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act which was passed in 2001 dealing with the refugee appeal division. I know this is not exactly applicable to the Statutes Repeal Act, but it gives an example of the kind of situation we are talking about.

The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, IRPA, was passed in 2001 and one feature of that act was the establishment of the refugee appeal division which was a paper screening process that gave refugee claimants an appeal of a decision made by the Immigration and Refugee Board. That refugee appeal division was established in law as a compromise in the debate on the immigration and refugee appeal division.

The government of the day wanted to reduce the panels which heard refugee claims from two members to one member, but concerns of other members of Parliament were that a two member panel gave an opportunity for corrections of errors that might be made in the process, whereas a one member panel did not afford that opportunity for fairness and justice, hence the RAD was introduced as a compromise to ensure fairness in the system.

Since then, the governments of the day have refused to implement the refugee appeal division, and every refugee and immigrant serving organization in the country and many internationally have called on the government to implement that. The previous Liberal government and the current Conservative government have faced those strong calls from NGOs which work with refugees to implement that division to bring a modicum of fairness to the process.

The governments of the day have refused to do that. It is part of the law. It was passed as part of the law, but the fact that the law also gave the governor in council the ability to determine the timetable for the implementation of that law, these particular sections have never been implemented.

This brings us to the strange situation where the member for Laval, with the support of her colleague, the member for Vaudreuil-Soulanges, have drafted a private member's bill, Bill C-280, An Act to Amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (coming into force of sections 110, 111 and 171). However, this is a private member's bill to implement legislation that has already been passed by Parliament. It seems a strange step to have to take, but many members of Parliament in all parties have called for the government to take this action.

That is one example of the kind of situation we get into, where this chamber made a decision and the Senate also made a decision on this legislation. The legislation was passed. An important piece was added as part of the debate on that and yet the government has chosen never to implement it. Many of us feel that it is a very serious problem with our immigration law.

There are other examples. There is the wage earners protection bill, Bill C-55 which dealt with corporate bankruptcies and putting workers first in the lineup to receive compensation. Parts of that have not been acted on even though it was passed in this place. There are sections of the Labour Code which face the same situation. We do need an effective mechanism to review those pieces of legislation and I am glad that Bill S-202 gives us that opportunity.

Statutes Repeal ActPrivate Members' Business

April 23rd, 2007 / 11:05 a.m.
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Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, before we begin looking at Bill S-202, I want to thank the leader of the Bloc Québécois, the member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie, for placing his trust in me by naming me House Leader of the Bloc Québécois. I also thank the voters in Joliette because, without their support, I could not have been entrusted with this responsibility by the leader. I can assure my colleagues in this House that I will take part in parliamentary debates as constructively as possible, as I have always tried to do since I began sitting in Parliament seven years ago.

I would also like to thank the member for Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean for all the work he has done, and particularly for everything he will be doing in the coming weeks, because obviously I am counting on his support, which I know I can rely on. As well, he has knowledge and expertise to pass on to me in order to make as smooth a transition as possible. The member for Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean will be with us until the end of this session.

In my opinion, Bill S-202, an act to repeal legislation that has not come into force within ten years of receiving royal assent, makes a great deal of sense. Some legislation has not come into force 10 years after it was adopted by the House and received royal assent. Something therefore needs to be corrected in the way legislation is made, and Bill S-202 suggests how this can be done.

The Bloc Québécois will support this bill, which is designed essentially to clean up legislation that has been adopted but has not come into force. Using a mechanism that I will come back to, this bill would force the government to make the House aware of such legislation.

This bill is also a way of clearly establishing that the legislative branch is responsible for the entire legislative process and that the executive branch has to carry out decisions made by Canada's Parliament, such as the decision to adopt bills in this House or the Senate. In a way, this bill strengthens legislative power and ensures that the executive serves the legislative and not the reverse.

We would, however, like to add some qualifications to the bill before us. We think that three amendments would be desirable. First, Bill S-202 allows legislation not to come into force within ten years. We feel that this is much too long. The House should question the relevance of any legislation that has not come into force after five years, as well as the rationale for the government's decision not to put it into force. We will therefore ask that the bill to be amended so as to reduce from ten years to five years the government's discretionary period for putting into force legislation passed by Parliament, that is the House of Commons and the Senate.

Second, we would want the government to be required to set out before Parliament its reasons for not having put the legislation into force, or not planning to do so, despite the fact that it has received royal assent. As I indicated, the goal is to enable the House to exercise its legislative responsibility in ensuring that the government does not do as it pleases with legislation passed by the House or by Parliament as a whole. In this respect, we feel that the type of explanation to be provided to Parliament by the government to justify not having put the legislation into force needs to be clarified.

Third, clause 3 should be amended to reflect the fact that the members of the Senate are not elected, but appointed by the Prime Minister, as everyone knows.

We propose amending clause 3, which currently reads as follows:

Every Act or provision listed in the annual report is repealed on December 31 of the year in which the report is laid unless it comes into force on or before that December 31 or during that year either House of Parliament adopts a resolution that the Act or provision not be repealed.

We propose amending it to:

Every Act or provision listed in the annual report is repealed on December 31 of the year in which the report is laid unless it comes into force on or before that December 31 or during that year the House of Commons adopts a resolution that the Act or provision not be repealed.

We find it is the responsibility of the House of Commons, of those who sit here, who were elected by the public—the electors—in their respective ridings. We think this should be a privilege of the House of Commons and not the Senate.

As I mentioned earlier, some bills and legislation have been passed by both Houses of Parliament. Although they received royal assent, they were never brought into force by the government.

This occurs when a bill is passed and Parliament gives the government the latitude to decide when the bill will come into force in order to give the government time to negotiate the bill's implementation with the provinces or, for regulations, the time to give the public service the latitude to consider all the implications. Nonetheless, for bills, the government is certainly not given this latitude in order to have the discretionary power to implement legislation or not, or to postpone its implementation indefinitely.

In our opinion, it is important to have a mechanism that ensures that the government is required to bring back to the House all the bills that have not been implemented. As I was saying earlier, we propose that this be done over a period of five years rather than ten. It is also important to receive the necessary explanations from the government on why the legislation has not been implemented, or why the government does not intend to implement it.

It may very well be that changing political, economic, social, environmental and cultural circumstances make it appropriate not to implement certain legislation.

The Library of Parliament has compiled information. There are acts dating back to before 1985. These deal with such matters as motor vehicle fuel consumption standards. It seems to me that we could do away with that particular piece of legislation, since consumption standards have obviously changed considerably over the past 20 years. I have not read it, but I am convinced that it is completely obsolete by now. This explains the purpose of the bill.

The mechanism in the bill provides that, on December 31 of the ninth year that an act has not been put into force, Parliament may be notified through an annual report laid before each House of Parliament, namely the House of Commons and the Senate. The government then has one year, from December 31 of the ninth year, to indicate whether it intends to put the act into force, or to explain why not, in the Canada Gazette.

In that case, if the government decides to explain why it will not implement an act, the act must be repealed if it is not brought into force by the following December 31, unless the House of Commons—if it considers the government's explanation to be unsatisfactory—that year resolves that it not be repealed. As I said earlier, the original bill also gives the Senate that power, but we believe that this ought to be within the purview of elected representatives.

The bill before us does not apply to acts or provisions of acts that are to come into force on assent or on a fixed date. Furthermore, the bill includes a transitional provision for provisions amended during the nine-year period before the enactment comes into force.

As I said earlier, this is simply about enabling the House of Commons, Parliament, the parliamentary process to ensure that we do not have to keep dealing with a series of acts that have not been implemented, or that, in some cases, cannot be implemented, or may not have been implemented for the wrong reasons by successive governments. The Senate committee was told that the bureaucrats do not even know how many such acts are gathering dust in various departments.

Parliamentarians, including government members, should be concerned about this. As I said, the Library of Parliament provided the senators who introduced this bill with a list of 56 bills that were never brought into force. Consider, for example, the Motor Vehicle Fuel Consumption Standards Act, which I mentioned earlier, and the Canadian Heritage Languages Institute Act from 1991, to name but two.

The Bloc Québécois supports the principle underlying the bill and hopes that the committee will be able to improve it—

The House resumed from December 5 consideration of the motion that Bill S-202, An Act to repeal legislation that has not come into force within ten years of receiving royal assent, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Statutes Repeal ActPrivate Members' Business

December 5th, 2006 / 5:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Michael Chong Conservative Wellington—Halton Hills, ON

Mr. Speaker, statute revisions rarely make headlines in the newspapers; however, they relate to the essence of our mandate as parliamentarians, which is to legislate. I have taken a close look at Bill S-202 and I would like to share my understandings of this initiative.

The idea behind Bill S-202 is straightforward. Any legislation that has been adopted by Parliament but has not been brought into force within 10 years would be repealed unless it can be demonstrated in this House or in the Senate that it should be preserved.

Bill S-202 would apply to legislation that does not come into force after receiving royal assent or on a particular date. It would apply when Parliament determines that the government would be in a better position to decide when it would be appropriate to bring the legislation into force by proclamation or by order of the governor in council.

The minister of justice would be required to table an annual report each year in Parliament within the first five sitting days of each calendar year. The report would list all acts and all provisions of an act that were assented to at least nine years earlier and have not yet been brought into force. This report would provide Parliament with an overview of all the outstanding legislation that could be repealed at the end of the year if nothing was done to bring them into force or to defer their repeal.

Ministers responsible for any legislation appearing on the list would have to evaluate the consequences of their repeal. If everyone agrees that the legislation should be repealed, no further action would be required. Bill S-202 provides that at the end of the year in which a report is tabled, the acts and provisions listed in that report would be repealed. It would be repealed by the simple operation of Bill S-202.

However, there may be valid reasons why legislation might take a significant time to come into force. These reasons often have to do with a need to make administrative arrangements before implementing new programs or measures, or with a need to coordinate with provincial and territorial governments or with foreign governments. If this were the case, Bill S-202 would provide as a resolution that either House of Parliament could exempt an act or provision of an act from being repealed at the end of the year. Such a resolution might be sought by the responsible minister or by any parliamentarian who would be interested in preserving the legislation.

Unless it was brought into force the following year, the exempted legislation would appear again in the following year in the annual report of the minister of justice and the process would take place once again. Bill S-202 clearly limits the scope of such resolutions. It can only exempt legislation from being repealed in the current year. If necessary, resolutions could also be sought in subsequent years in respect of the same legislation.

At the end of the year, the acts and provisions of acts that were not brought into force or exempted by resolution would be repealed. During the following year, the minister of justice would be required to publish in the Canada Gazette the list of acts and provisions of acts so repealed.

Bill S-202 also contains transitional provisions for legislation amended by Parliament in the nine years prior to the coming into force of Bill S-202. In the case of these amended provisions and of the provisions necessary for them to have effect, the nine year period would be calculated from the moment of their amendment and not their original adoption.

This exemption recognizes that if Parliament were to amend a provision, it would imply that the provision was still relevant and should not be repealed soon. However, the exemption would apply only in respect of amendments made prior to the coming into force of Bill S-202. This means that for future legislation that amends provisions that were not in force, Parliament would have to re-enact them to ensure that they were not repealed by Bill S-202 less than 10 years after their enactment if they were still not in force.

In order to allow the government and other interested persons time to prepare for Bill S-202, it provides that it would come into force two years after it is assented to. This is reasonable, since the first report would likely be the longest because it would include all the acts and provisions of acts that have not yet been brought into force since the last statute revision in 1985, which repealed a number of obsolete provisions.

What are we to make of Bill S-202? The power to bring legislation into force is delegated to the government when the timing for such implementation requires flexibility. The bill would impose some limits on these powers, with a view to improving parliamentary oversight of how they are exercised or perhaps, more accurately, how they are not exercised.

If Bill S-202 were adopted, we would be assured that provisions that were not in force over nine years after their adoption would come to our attention. We would be able to ask the government to explain why they were not in force. It would bring to our attention acts and provisions of acts that might otherwise be overlooked.

Bill S-202 would provide an incentive to government to carefully reconsider on a regular basis what action should be taken with respect to legislation that had not yet been brought into force. Bill S-202 appears to be a worthwhile bill. I look forward to hearing the views of other hon. members as to its merits.

Statutes Repeal ActPrivate Members' Business

December 5th, 2006 / 5:45 p.m.
See context

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, this private member's bill addresses an issue which is of some significant concern to every legislator, or at least it should be. That is the constant debate we have, and I suppose it is the essence of democracy, as to whether we over-govern ourselves. Sometimes maybe we pass legislation in reaction to current incidents to deal with what is at that point a hot topic issue and then within months or certainly within years, the law is no longer necessary. The law has become irrelevant, but it sits on the books until there is a move either by the government of the day or through a private member's bill to repeal the legislation.

Bill S-202 provides a mechanism, although I have to say with some reservations that I am not sure it is the proper mechanism, that would deal with those laws that have become outdated, irrelevant or no longer necessary but are still sitting on the books.

Every so often we will see in the popular media an example of a law, sometimes it is a municipal bylaw, other times it is a formal piece of legislation at the federal or provincial levels, that is held up to ridicule because it is so out of date. The one I always think of is the provincial law that required someone to walk in front of a horseless carriage, as it was called at that time, after a certain hour of the day waving a lantern in order to protect domesticated animals from being struck by the vehicle. That was on Ontario's books until well into the 1960s, if not the 1970s.

We hear of those kinds of examples. To some degree they hold the particular legislature up to ridicule that such an irrelevant and out of date piece of legislation would still be on the books.

I want to congratulate the member for Mississauga South who has brought this bill before the House for debate.

Having praised it to that extent, I have to express the reservation which is the risk we have of applying this bill, if it did become the law of the land, and legislation which is still relevant, necessary and useful could be struck down and made useless due to inattention by the government of the day. A law may have fallen into some lack of use, even for an extended period of time, but it may still be necessary given a change of circumstances in the country.

I am proposing how we should deal with this as opposed to it being an automatic absolute under the circumstances as set out in Bill S-202. A clause should be added that would provide some saving grace under certain circumstances. I am looking forward to the bill going to committee. Hopefully it will get through the House and will be addressed more extensively in committee so that that possibility could be addressed. The difficulty is that if the bill is approved in principle, that type of deviation from the principle may not be acceptable to the committee. It may not be acceptable under our rules and it may be ruled out of order. That causes me some concern. However, I think it is the way we need to go.

The number of statutes we know that are sitting on our books that should be repealed are fairly numerous from what I have been led to believe. I cannot say I have done a full study of that, but there are a number that are sitting on our books. It would be good to get them off our books.

It is back to the issue of overgovernance. Every so often when we have one of these pieces of legislation that is the law of the land that was intended for these specific purposes and was passed originally for these specific purposes, another issue arises and the law applies to that set of facts, but we end up with an unintended consequence, one that is negative and was never intended by the legislation. That is always the risk of having that old legislation sitting there.

Just on a side point, one of the tragedies of the government refusing to fund the Law Commission comes into play here. One of the roles the Law Commission could have had assigned to it is to review, either all of our legislation or at least segments of our legislation, already passed, already law, and identify those bills that were no longer necessary, had become irrelevant, were out of date, and where we could see no future use for them.

It would have been a very good task for the Law Commission to have performed. The members of the commission had the expertise and could very well have taken on that assignment. As I said earlier, it is badly needed to be done. With the Law Commission no longer being funded, it is not something we could assign to it.

It is quite clear that we do not have the ability, and I say that within the Department of Justice, nor do we have the resources in terms of personnel to do that overall review of all of our legislation. The Law Commission would have been very conveniently available to have that task assigned to it. It is no longer able to do it, and certainly the Department of Justice does not have the resources to do it.

I want to make one final point before I conclude. One of the other flaws that I see in the legislation, and I am sure it was not intended and it may not be possible to include it in the legislation, is that we have all sorts of pieces of legislation that still do function in part. They provide a role in terms of providing legislative infrastructure for activities in the country or, in some cases, prohibiting activities, but there are other parts of the same law, because they have become out of date, that are irrelevant.

The bill does nothing to assist us in reviewing those pieces of legislation or, more specifically, those parts of the legislation that are no longer relevant. We have no ability under the bill, if it were to become law, to place in the infrastructure of our legislative system an ability to review those laws that are still valid, but only in part.

Those are some of the flaws that I wish to point out to my colleague from Mississauga South. This of course will be a free vote when it comes to second reading. I do intend to support it, but I do have some reservations regarding the bill and I hope we can resolve those problems at committee.

Statutes Repeal ActPrivate Members' Business

December 5th, 2006 / 5:35 p.m.
See context

Fundy Royal New Brunswick

Conservative

Rob Moore ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I am thankful for the opportunity to speak to Bill S-202, the statutes repeal act, on behalf of the government.

This bill has been tabled several times in the other place since 2002. Its main objective is to improve Parliament's oversight of the coming into force of its legislation. The government supports this objective.

Bill S-202 would provide for the repeal of any act or provision of an act that has not been brought into force 10 years after its adoption by Parliament. Sometimes acts come into force on royal assent. It is also common to provide for a particular day on which they come into force. For practical reasons, Parliament sometimes chooses to delegate to the governor in council the power to make orders setting the day or days on which an act or its provisions will come into force. The government then has the discretion to decide when it is the appropriate time to bring the act or provision into force.

Members of the House can and do of course ask the government to explain why a particular act or provision is not yet in force. Bill S-202 would go further. It would ensure that every year a global view of all acts and provisions of an act that had not been brought into force within 10 years was presented to Parliament.

Under Bill S-202 the Minister of Justice would be required to table before each house of Parliament within the first five sitting days of every calendar year an annual report listing every act or provision of an act that was not still in force at least nine years after it had been assented to. Officials from the Department of Justice have already prepared and updated such a list in the course of reviewing Bill S-202. The current list includes three complete acts and provisions of approximately 60 other acts. It is expected that the first list will be the longest because of the long period it would cover. The list should be somewhat shorter in subsequent years.

As I have already noted, if an act or provision is on the list, it will be repealed at the end of the year unless the government brings it into force before then. However, there can be valid reasons why legislation might take a significant time to be brought into force. These reasons often have to do with the need to make administrative arrangements before implementing new programs or measures or the time required to coordinate them with provincial, territorial or foreign governments.

For example, the Contraventions Act establishes a ticketing regime for federal offences to be prosecuted under provincial procedures. Over the years, the federal government has concluded agreements with a number of provinces and territories whose regimes are then used to prosecute federal offences committed in those territories or provinces. However, if no such agreement can be concluded with the other provinces and territories, the Contraventions Act provides an alternative federal regime for those provinces and territories.

The provisions creating these alternative regimes have not yet been brought into force because the negotiations with the remaining provinces and territories are still ongoing. Clearly, the alternative regime should not be repealed because it could become necessary to implement it if the negotiations failed.

Legislation implementing international agreements provides another example where long delays are common. Implementation usually depends on the ratification of the underlying agreement by other states. This is something which Canada has no control over.

Also, circumstances sometimes change after legislation has been enacted. Such changes can pose problems for bringing it into force, requiring further amendments to take them into account. When a lengthy period has elapsed after enactment, the possibility of needing amendments to reflect changing circumstances is all the greater. In all these circumstances, it is appropriate that the House have the opportunity to review the matter as it sees fit, and if it feels necessary, defer the repeal.

If the government or indeed any member of the House were to consider that a particular act or provision should not be repealed after 10 years, then a resolution to that effect could be proposed to either house of Parliament. This would provide an opportunity for members to hear from the responsible minister on the matter and would increase the accountability of the government to this House.

Such a resolution could not, however, be used to protect legislation indefinitely. It would only remove an act or provision from the list for the current year. This means the following year the Minister of Justice would again have to include it on the list for that year and the process would be repeated. At the end of the year, the acts and provisions of acts that would not have been exempted by resolution would be repealed. During the following year, the Minister of Justice would publish in the Canada Gazette the list of acts and provisions of acts that had been repealed.

Bill S-202 contains an interesting exception in favour of legislation amended by Parliament in the nine years prior to the coming into force of Bill S-202. In the case of these amended provisions and of the provisions necessary for them to have effect, the nine year period should be calculated from the moment of their amendment and not their original adoption. This exception recognizes that if Parliament has amended a provision, it implies that the provision is still relevant and should not be repealed soon.

However, the exception applies only in respect of amendments made prior to the coming into force of Bill S-202 since it is presumed that once Bill S-202 would apply, it might be tempting to resort to minor technical amendments to reset the clock and avoid a difficult debate in respect of controversial provisions.

In order for the government to prepare a report to Parliament, Bill S-202 provides that it would come into force two years after it is assented to. It is expected that the first report would be the longest because it would include all acts and provisions of an act that have not been brought into force since the last statute revision of 1985 which repealed a number of obsolete provisions.

Another way of looking at Bill S-202 is to think of it as a tool for assisting in the ongoing revision of our statutes.

One of the functions of statute revision programs is to repeal obsolete provisions. This could also be accomplished through miscellaneous statute law amendments which the Minister of Justice introduces from time to time as the opportunity presents itself.

The advantage of Bill S-202 over statute revision and the miscellaneous statute law amendment program is that it would launch a review each year of legislation that has not been brought into force in the previous nine years.

This bill has been significantly modified since it was first introduced in the other place in 2002. The most significant amendment has established a mechanism for deferring the repeal of a particular act or provision. This would be done by a resolution of either house of Parliament to remove any act or provision of an act from the repeal list of the current year.

This process is transparent and it is flexible. It is transparent because the removal would be debated and approved by Parliament. It is also flexible because it would not require the approval of both houses of Parliament, but only one.

The resolution process is also flexible in terms of timing since a resolution could be adopted at any time during the year as long as it was done before December 31, at which date all acts and provisions of an act remaining on the list would be repealed by the operation of Bill S-202.

Another important amendment was the addition of a requirement to publish every year in the Canada Gazette the list of acts and provisions of an act repealed under Bill S-202 in the preceding year. This would ensure a public notice of the repeals.

Finally, a transitional provision was added. It would delay the repeal of provisions amended within nine years of the coming into force of Bill S-202. This would avoid a premature debate on provisions that Parliament had considered in the recent past.

In conclusion, Bill S-202 would put in place a fairly straightforward and inexpensive mechanism to improve our legislative process. It would increase government's accountability before Parliament for the exercise of the powers delegated by Parliament to bring legislation into force.

The acts and provisions that have not been brought into force would be brought to the attention of Parliament, and in some instances I suspect, to the attention of government itself.

Statutes Repeal ActPrivate Members' Business

December 5th, 2006 / 5:25 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Monique Guay Bloc Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by saying that we support the principle underlying this bill. As my colleague said earlier, 57 bills gathering dust is a lot.

I would like to go back to Bill C-11, The Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act. As you may recall, during our study of Bill C-2, the Bloc Québécois asked that Bill C-11 be withdrawn immediately. If the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act had been enacted and implemented while we were studying Bill C-2, we would have been able to take the time we needed to study it thoroughly. If Bill C-11 had been passed before, we could have been certain that that much at least had been done rather than wait for Bill C-2 to be passed.

Bill C-2 is currently before the Senate. We do not know when it will be returned to the House of Commons. The Christmas break is approaching and we will not resume until January. It is unlikely that Bill C-2 will be adopted or withdrawn before that, and we will still have the problem of Bill C-11, which is ready and has received royal assent, but is not yet enacted. It is just one of many bills that are gathering dust on the shelf.

On the other hand, we will probably have to revise some bills, because they have been left on the shelf too long. Amendments may be needed. There will also likely be jurisdiction issues, because certain provinces, such as Quebec, have already established measures concerning some bills. We must therefore ensure that there is no duplication and that our jurisdictions are respected. Certain important changes may have already been made, which could undermine or duplicate existing legislation.

As I said, we support this bill. However, we would like to see it go to committee. We believe three amendments are important, and I will list them. We think that they will strengthen Bill S-202.

First of all, we think that the discretionary period for enacting a bill passed by Parliament could be shortened from ten years to five years. We would like to see this amended because we find ten years simply too long. We see this when we are studying a bill in committee. Indeed, most of our existing legislation is revised every five or ten years anyway. As we all know, if this measure is not in place, this could lead to some major changes. Things change with time. We must review our legislation, make it better and more modern. Furthermore, things happen outside this House. Other legislative assemblies, including the National Assembly in Quebec and other parliaments, all carry out their own measures, which could lead to amendments to one of our 57 bills.

We would also like to require the government to explain to Parliament the reasons why it does not intend to implement legislation that has received royal assent. This is unimaginable, when witnesses have been called to appear and people have worked on a bill, sometimes for as much as two years. I remember that when we revised the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, it took us two and a half years. It would make no sense to wait 10 years before looking at it again. The government therefore should report to Parliament and explain why it has decided to give royal assent to legislation but then has opted to shelve it instead of implementing it.

This also does not reflect well on parliamentarians. People say that we pass legislation but then shelve it. They find the system very cumbersome, very slow and very long. When legislation receives royal assent, the government has to be able to implement it as soon as possible.

It starts in Parliament, then is referred to a committee, where it is amended before going to the Senate, where more witnesses are called. It goes through all the steps needed to receive royal assent, then it is shelved. This makes no sense to us.

The third amendment we would like to make pertains to clause 3 and reflects the fact that members of the Senate are not elected. We therefore propose to amend clause 3, which reads as follows:

3. Every Act or provision listed in the annual report is repealed on December 31 of the year in which the report is laid unless it comes into force on or before that December 31 or during that year either House of Parliament adopts a resolution that the Act or provision not be repealed.

We would like to replace this clause with the following:

3. Every Act or provision listed in the annual report is repealed on December 31 of the year in which the report is laid unless it comes into force on or before that December 31 or during that year the House of Commons adopts a resolution that the Act or provision not be repealed.

These are amendments that the committee could discuss. It could look at whether it is possible to find common ground.

In general, Bill S-202 is good because these changes are needed. We cannot allow very important bills to be shelved.

I find that Bill C-11 was extremely important and there are currently people who will not disclose any wrongdoing as long as we have not resolved the problem with Bill C-2. Repealing Bill C-11 would not have taken any effort. The legislation was ready. We could have just continued with Bill C-2. The one was not in competition with the other. They were based on each other, in any event. I still do not understand why the government refused to implement Bill C-11, which was shelved.

I also wonder what becomes of these bills afterward. Bill C-2 will likely be passed eventually. I imagine it will come back from the Senate and we will pass it. However, what will become of Bill C-11? What happens to bills that are shelved? Will Bill C-11 become obsolete and have to be repealed? We have to ask these questions.

We will therefore support Bill S-202, but the reservations I expressed must be taken into account. I think that five years is better than 10 years. When we study some acts after 10 years, there are so many changes and amendments to make that it can take two or three years to go through committee. I saw it happen with the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. I also saw it happen with Part II of the Canada Labour Code. We spent months and months amending Part II, which had not been reviewed for 15 years. We have to set limits so that, as we asked with Bill C-2, the act can be reviewed every five years to assess its effectiveness. We will strike a committee to determine whether it is working well. If it is not, we need the power to amend it quickly and ensure it does work well.

The Bloc Québécois supports sending Bill S-202 to committee, where members will discuss its application with witnesses.

Statutes Repeal ActPrivate Members' Business

December 5th, 2006 / 5:05 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

moved that Bill S-202, An Act to repeal legislation that has not come into force within ten years of receiving royal assent, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, it is quite an honour to present Bill S-202 to the House.

The members may wonder why it is an S bill. This bill was tabled in the other place by Senator Tommy Banks. It went through all stages of the legislative process, a very rigorous process. It has passed in the other place and is now referred to the House of Commons for consideration. It is now brought to the order paper and is before us like any other private member's bill. We are at second reading and we will go through the normal process that we otherwise would. I wanted members to be aware of that, and certainly the public.

I find Bill S-202 to be a very constructive bill. Its short title is called the statutes repeal act. It is an act to repeal legislation that has not come into force within ten years of receiving royal assent.

The public may wonder how both the House of Commons and the other place can do all of our work, do all the due diligence, get the bill passed and get royal assent, yet the bill is not be put in force. In other words, it is not active law. It sits in limbo until a subsequent government decides to proclaim the bill and put it into force, and there are some reasons for that. However, two full bills, which are over 10 years old, have received royal assent, but they have not been proclaimed. About 57 other pieces of legislation, which are amendments to other acts, are also over 10 years old and they still have not been proclaimed in Parliament by the government of the day.

We have to ask ourselves if we should have a procedure in which we can effectively create a sunset clause, with reasonable provisions. Should there be good reason for a bill not being proclaimed, or not being put into force, there will be an opportunity to do that without frustrating all of the work that has been done.

In checking the work already done already, I must admit this is a lot more complicated than members may think. There are a lot of constitutional and procedural questions and a lot of questions about what happens if a provincial jurisdiction has enacted similar provisions, but the Government of Canada has not. For example, if we repeal provisions, will that affect the provincial jurisdiction and the application of the law? There were some excellent questions on behalf of all hon. senators who participated in the debate.

Bill S-202 received third reading in the Senate on the June 22. The bill could prevent legislation, which has received royal assent but has not been brought into force, from sitting on the books indefinitely. The bill would not apply to acts which come into force upon royal assent, which means they would automatically come into force, or acts that come into force on a day specified within the legislation.

We often have the case where it says in the bill that it will come into force upon receiving royal assent, or that the bill will come into force, or active law, on a date indicated in that bill. However, there are bills that do not say that. They in fact have a coming into force clause; that is they will come into force when the government says they will, or an unspecified time.

Unless either the House of Commons or the Senate takes action, the bill would cause these acts to automatically be repealed if they have not been brought into force within 10 years of receiving royal assent. There are exceptions for provisions that have been amended before the bill comes into force. For instance, if there has been some action on that bill within the last 10 year period, there are provisos that this 10 year period would be extended for 10 years beyond when an amendment had been made.

According to testimony in the Senate, the Department of Justice was very active. As I have said, there are only two statutes that are affected by Bill S-202 in their entirety. They are the Motor Vehicle Fuel Consumption Standards Act, which passed in the early 1980s, and the Canadian Heritage Languages Institute Act from 1991. However, there is individual legislation amending the other pieces of legislation. I have examples of some 57 other acts that would be affected by this, but I will not to read them into the record. I am happy to provide hon. members with copies of them. It is in the Senate record should members like to look at some of those.

The short title of the bill is the statutes repeal act. Clause 2 says that the justice minister must within the first five days that the chamber sits in any calendar year give a report to the House of Commons and the Senate. The report must list every act or provision of an act that received royal assent more than nine years before December 31 of the previous year that has not come into force. In other words, on day one of the 10th year, we would have a report to both Houses of Parliament. This means the government of the day would have virtually a full year to determine whether it better take some action, or make some changes, or supercede it, or repeal it or somehow address it. If it does not, then this bill would in fact trigger.

Clause 3 states that any act or provision, which was listed in the annual report and has still not come into force by the end of the 10th year, would be repealed as of December 31 of that year unless either chamber adopted a resolution that the act or provision would not be repealed.

Clause 5 provides that any provision that was not in force and would have been repealed under the prevailing procedure would not be repealed if it had been amended at any time during the previous nine years. Ten years after that amendment, the provisions of the bill would apply if the amendment itself was not brought into force. If there is no action on a bill or an amendment to a bill within 10 years of it receiving passage in both Houses, then the cards fall and it would be repealed.

Bill S-202 has had three predecessor bills in its life. The original hearings were back in 2002. Senator Banks confirmed that the intent of the bill was not to impair government flexibility, and that is important to note, but to ensure that any act or provision that had not come into force within 10 years after being given royal assent was revisited. That is the important aspect of Bill S-202. It would provide a period during which we would have to look at it and find out whether action was necessary one way or another. Failing that, the act or the provision would automatically be repealed.

There are four options now with the possibility of a resolution in either House for stalling the appeal.

First, some provisions that are more than nine or ten years old may have been recently amended, for example, to correct an anomaly or problem. Is the intent of the bill that a provision that Parliament has recently considered be automatically repealed? The intent is not to do that. It is to ensure that there is some activity. As the senator has pointed out, there has to be some sort of sunset provision.

Second, what happens with a provision that is partially in force or in force in some but not all provinces? The Contraventions Act, for example, requires negotiations with a province before it can be brought into force in that province. The question really is, would such acts be partially repealed with respect to provinces where they were not in force?

The third option is with respect to international treaties. They may require implementing legislation and there could be a 10 year time lapse before international ratification was actually complete. The question would then be, how would the bill deal with this situation?

Fourth, justice officials were also concerned that the bill would cause an automatic repeal with no provision for publication of the statutes or provisions repealed.

I want to assure members that Bill S-202 has addressed all of those concerns. It has done so through changes providing: first, that a resolution adopted by either chamber operates to ensure that the provision is not repealed; second, that amendments to a provision before a bill comes into force to extend the period for another 10 years; and third, that all repealed acts or provisions must be listed in the Canada Gazette.

The bottom line is Bill S-202 does in fact respond to the questions that have been raised by justice officials and others with regard to us getting ourselves into a situation where we may cause some unintended consequences. The conclusion is that is not the case.

The senators who examined the bill also raised concern with Bill S-202. Could the repeal of a list of provisions be done by motions involving a senate and/or the House of Commons or is some form of assent or approval by the Queen's representative also required?

Section 17 of the Constitution Act states that the legislative power rests in the Parliament composed of the Queen, the Senate and the House of Commons. Senators felt it might be preferable if the legislation contained some recognition of the Crown. This is where the Senate gets into some aspects, which I do not often hear in this place, with regard to the constitutionality.

Justice officials were of the view that the bill itself was the legislative mandate required for the repeals and that the process in the bill was analogous to a sunset clause, which provided for the repeal at a specific time. The officials also referred to section 2.2 of the Interpretation Act, which provided for a deemed repeal in the case of provisions that were spent or no longer operative. Thus Parliament can anticipate a repeal that takes place some time later, but according to the rules established by Parliament itself.

In the case at hand, the rules would be established by Bill S-202. In other words, the bill would provide the mechanisms in which we could deal with this problem. In the view of the justice officials, this would overcome any constitutional difficulties with the repeals triggered by the bill. As I said, there are some 57 acts which are affected, but I will not go there.

To summarize, the only way this really comes up is if the legislation says that bill will come into force on a date to be specified by order in council, that is by the cabinet. When there is no specified date or it does not say it come into force on royal assent, then somebody has to do something down the road to trigger it.

There are a number of instances where there is good reason why we would not want to make it come into force immediately. There are transitional provisions and things to get prepared for it coming into to force. We understand that when we bring in new legislation, there are or can be consequences to a broad range of stakeholders. Therefore, the form of having an enforced clause sometimes is desirable and necessary.

In the case before us now, the Senate has discovered there are bills, having gone through all of the process in both Houses, sitting collecting dust in limbo. Also some 57 other acts have all kinds of interesting amendments. I cannot imagine what those people, who thought these were important at the time, are feeling. I am getting a little worried about the whistleblower legislation, Bill C-11. It has been over a year now, in the last week of the last Parliament.

When we have done the work, when Parliament has passed it, all Houses, when it has royal assent, we want to know it has happened. If it does not happen, maybe the House has to consider another amendment, something to the effect that if a bill does not get royal assent within a reasonable period of time, reasons should be given. That is accountability.

I thank Senator Banks for all of his hard work. I commend the senators for their due diligence on this. I have satisfied myself that they have asked all the important questions and considered, as part of their review, the important questions of the day. They have referred us a bill which is in very good shape.

I ask all hon. members to support Bill S-202.

Statutes Repeal ActRoutine Proceedings

October 31st, 2006 / 10:10 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is my honour to sponsor in the House of Commons Bill S-202, which was proposed by the hon. senator, Tommy Banks, and which was passed by the other place on June 22.

The bill seeks to establish appropriate provisions to repeal any legislation that has not come into force within 10 years of receiving royal assent. Failure to proclaim a bill passed by Parliament is simply unacceptable.

I trust that all hon. members will give speedy passage to this responsible piece of legislation from our other place.

First reading of Senate Public BillsRoutine Proceedings

October 31st, 2006 / 10:10 a.m.
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Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, at the same point in routine proceedings, tabling of Senate public bills, I rose as the sponsor of Bill S-202 and asked if I could briefly explain the bill. The Speaker responded:

We do not normally speak on Senate bills. The hon. member for Mississauga South is asking for unanimous consent to give a brief explanation of the bill.

Unfortunately, unanimous consent was not forthcoming.

Mr. Speaker, I refer you to Marleau and Montpetit, chapter 21 under “Private Members' Business”, at page 900 under “SENATE PUBLIC BILLS SPONSORED BY PRIVATE MEMBERS”, which I believe this is the case. It states:

Some private Members' public bills originate in the Senate and are sent to the Commons after passage by the Senate. When the Speaker calls “First Reading of Senate Public Bills” during Routine Proceedings, the Member sponsoring a Senate bill in the House is permitted to give a brief explanation of its purpose, without engaging in debate. The motion for first reading is then deemed carried without debate, amendment or question put, and the bill is automatically added to the bottom of the order of precedence for Private Members' Business without having gone through the draw process.

All bills coming before this place have a very important matter to consider by hon. members either in this place or from the other place. I believe this particular bill is excellent and I was hoping to have the opportunity to make a brief explanation on Bill S-202 for the benefit of all hon. members.