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, 2nd Session, which ended in September 2008.


This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.


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.

June 18th, 2008 / 3:25 p.m.
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The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Statutes Repeal ActPrivate Members' Business

June 3rd, 2008 / 6:15 p.m.
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Lee Richardson Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I should have referred to the member for Fort McMurray—Athabasca, that is right. I think he is so widely known that it would be redundant, in any event.

In conclusion, with regard to Bill S-207, the statutes repeal act, that the recommendations would not require any additional resources from government reserves, nor would they require any reallocations from within the department's resources.

Statutes Repeal ActPrivate Members' Business

June 3rd, 2008 / 6:10 p.m.
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Lee Richardson Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I wanted to get in on this debate because, first, it is a bill presented through the Senate by my good friend Senator Tommy Banks from Alberta. In spite of the fact that he is a Liberal, he occasionally comes up with some very intelligent things, and this is one of them, really, to go through report stage and get third reading of the bill done right away.

Senator Banks had previously tabled similar bills and, in principle, those bills received unanimous consent and support from all parties when they were discussed in the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs. Officials from the Department of Justice expressed concerns about earlier bills, but I understand now that the current version of the bill addresses these concerns.

If it is not clear to those who have been listening to the debate thus far, this bill would create a procedure for the repeal of acts and the provisions of acts that have not been brought into force within 10 years after their royal assent.

If enacted, the bill would require the Minister of Justice, at the beginning of each calendar year, to table a report listing those acts and provisions to be repealed. It would repeal the listed acts and provisions at the end of the year if they are not brought into force in the meantime. It would provide for the repeal of an act or provision to be suspended for that year if either House of Parliament adopts a resolution to that effect. It would provide that acts and provisions that have been amended within the past 9 years will not be repealed before 10 years after the amendment. Finally, it would not provide for any exceptions to its application, however, new acts could provide that they are exempt.

If this bill were enacted this year, the first report of the acts and provisions to be repealed would have to be tabled by 2010. The Department of Justice would prepare the report in cooperation with other departments and coordinate the process with the Privy Council Office.

There are currently two entire acts, the Canadian Heritage Languages Institute Act and the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Implementation Act, and provisions in about 60 other acts, that were enacted over 10 years ago, which have not been brought into force.

They would be subject to repeal unless either they were amended in the nine years before the coming into force of Bill S-207 or else a resolution was adopted by either House to suspend the repeal.

The Department of Justice has prepared a list of acts and provisions that would appear in the first report and has circulated it to other departments for comment in order to assess Bill S-207's consequences.

There appear to be no objections to the main principle of the bill. Some of the acts and provisions on the list could be repealed without creating any difficulty. However, there are others that should be maintained until they can be brought into force.

The main reasons for maintaining them are the frequently long delays for international treaties to be ratified, the time required for all provincial and territorial governments to implement new requirements, and the persuasive effect that legislation ready to be brought into force can have on industries to act voluntarily. Bill S-207 would repeal legislation dealing with federal matters which, in general, have no particular impact on the provinces or territories.

I have a note that Mr. Jean has joined us in the House and I know this is important to you and Fort McMurray—Athabasca--

Statutes Repeal ActPrivate Members' Business

June 3rd, 2008 / 6:05 p.m.
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Patrick Brown Conservative Barrie, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to make a few remarks about Bill S-207, the Statutes Repeal Act. If all goes well today for Senator Bank's bill, this might be my last opportunity to speak on this matter. First, I would like to congratulate the original sponsor of this bill, Senator Tommy Banks, for this great idea and also for his perseverance. Senator Banks tabled the first version of this bill in 2002 and he has worked diligently over the last years to refine his proposal which became the version currently before us.

I could not agree more with the objective of this bill which is to prevent the government from delaying indefinitely the coming into force of legislation. It has been said many times in this House and in the other place that Bill S-207 provides a straightforward and flexible mechanism to ensure that Parliament's will is not ignored when the coming into force of some legislation is referred to government.

This bill would put into place an original process which has no equivalent, to my knowledge, in any of the Canadian legislatures. It is an innovative and efficient way to ensure the accountability of the government before Parliament for the coming into force of its legislation. Essentially, Bill S-207 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 legislation after 10 years, Bill S-207 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.

As we know, 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 had been delegated to the government to bring legislation into force.

Since this bill was first tabled in 2002, I suspect that the list of acts and provisions that would be subject to repeal under this new process must have evolved. Of course, the passing of time must have added new provisions to it, but it certainly gave time to the government to consider repealing or bringing into force some of those acts and provisions.

While I am saying this, I have in mind one rather well-known example. I refer to the Motor Vehicle Fuel Consumption Standards Act which was finally brought into force in 2007 after at least 20 years of being on the books. Of course, this act was part of a larger scheme implemented by this government to protect the environment. Maybe good things just happen in due time. Or maybe Bill S-207 has already started to produce some positive repercussions by raising the profile of this issue since 2002.

I believe Bill S-207 will improve our parliamentary process and I want to thank Senator Banks one more time for all his efforts. It was worth it.

Statutes Repeal ActPrivate Members' Business

June 3rd, 2008 / 6 p.m.
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Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, Bill S-207, An Act to repeal legislation that has not come into force within ten years of receiving royal assent, is a step in the right direction in terms of the transparency that must exist between the executive and the House of Commons. However, it must be understood that, for us, this is not a way to allow the government or the cabinet to delay the implementation of bills in the hope that the bills would die after ten years, as set out in the current bill.

It is a step ahead, but in the future we must find ways to ensure greater accountability of the executive, of the government, in terms of the implementation of legislation passed by the House of Commons and the Senate. It is abnormal that 56 bills that were passed have never been implemented, according to the library's research for the senator who is sponsoring this bill, and there is no known reason why.

For example, one act pertained to the Canadian Heritage Languages Institute. I do not know anything about the content of the act, but I would like to know why this legislation, which was passed in 1991, still has not come into force in 2008.

The Motor Vehicle Fuel Consumption Standards Act dates back to before 1985, whereas now we are debating Bill C-33, which would allow the federal government to regulate fuel content by requiring a certain percentage of biofuel. It would be interesting to know why this legislation, which was passed before 1985, still has not come into force. Moreover, it is likely obsolete by now.

In any event, when Parliament passes legislation and it is not brought into force by the executive, then Parliament must be told why. As I said, it could be that circumstances and events have made the legislation irrelevant. However, there must be a process whereby Parliament can monitor such legislation, be notified that it has not been brought into force by the executive and question the executive about this.

That is the objective of this bill. As I said, we support the bill in principle, but there needs to be a way to give Parliament more of a say in the decision as to whether or not to bring legislation into force.

The bill provides for a mechanism so that acts and provisions of acts can come into force on a date fixed by proclamation or order of the governor in council. If they do not come into force by the December 31 that is nine years after royal assent, they must be included in an annual report laid before both houses of Parliament.

We would have liked the time period to be shorter than that proposed in the bill. That was not possible for various reasons, including the fact that the work of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights has been blocked for several weeks, which meant that we were unable to make that argument to the committee. Even though we were unable to change that clause of the bill from 10 years to five years, we will support the bill.

The annual report must therefore be tabled in the House on December 31 of the ninth year, which gives the government one year, from the tabling of the list in Parliament, to decide what action to take. It must either bring the act into force or explain in the Canada Gazette how it intends to proceed. In the latter case, the act is repealed if it does not come into force by the following December 31, unless during that year either House resolves that it not be repealed.

The legislation does not apply to acts or provisions that are to come into force on assent or on a fixed date provided by the act. It also includes a transitional provision for provisions that were amended during the nine-year period before the enactment comes into force.

In conclusion, as I was saying, it is quite odd that at least 56 acts have not come into force without knowing why. The provision contained in Bill S-207 will correct this situation in part. As legislators, we must ensure that we have the means to follow more closely what happens to legislation adopted by Parliament. Some of the 56 bills that have been passed but have not come into force, even though they should have, are still pertinent.

For these reasons, the Bloc Québécois will vote in favour of S-207 while hoping that this is the first step toward making the executive, and therefore the government, more accountable.

Statutes Repeal ActPrivate Members' Business

June 3rd, 2008 / 5:55 p.m.
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Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise to address Bill S-207. As always, because of the position my party has taken with regard to the Senate, I raise the objection that the bill should not appear before us because we should be doing away with the Senate. It is doubly so that this bill should not be before us in that it has flowed out of the Senate and has been initiated there, in spite of the compliments we have heard for Senators Banks for the work he has done on it.

The reality is that this bill should not be a private member's bill at all. It should be a government bill. This is part of the failure of this government and the previous government to deal with this issue.

One can argue that perhaps it is a bit arcane, that it is an issue that is not of significant importance to the overall welfare of our country, but the reality is that if Parliament is to function properly, the type of housekeeping bill that this represents in fact should be dealt with. An issue like this should not be allowed to simply sit on the sidelines because the government, whichever party is in power at the time, just cannot be bothered to deal with it.

It is quite clear that the issue itself is one that has general all party support and that it should be dealt with in keeping with the terms of the bill. My party supports the concept that any legislation that has been outstanding for as long as 10 years should be repealed, unless there is a resolution from the House to extend the bill beyond that 10 year period.

This just seems so obvious that it begs the question why a government has not garnered all party support and just quickly moved ahead with it. I do not have an answer for that, other than the unwillingness on the part of a government to deal with what in fact is a relatively minor issue but one that should have been addressed a long time ago.

There are a number of bills, and in fact full laws, that have never been proclaimed, although they are in the minority. The larger number of bills that have passed through the House, through the Senate and are waiting for proclamation is well in excess of 50. They are amendments to existing laws and for whatever reason the government of the day opted not to proclaim them.

The bottom line on this, and the reason why it is important that we proceed with this legislation, is that it is a democratic principle that laws come into effect if they are passed by the elected body in the state where the legislation is being passed. If it is not going to be, it seems to me that members of this House should once again look at it and decide whether they want to pursue it and extend the life of that bill or allow it to die, but that we do it as a conscious decision.

It seems to me it is the essence of democracy that decisions are made by elected representatives from an informed standpoint. This bill provides the information to the House as to whether a bill that has been sitting around for 10 years unproclaimed should continue or be allowed to disappear off the order paper and no longer be of any consideration.

We are intending to support the legislation, but I again repeat my criticisms that this government and prior governments should have taken this on themselves. They should not have left it to an unelected body and a private member to pursue it.

Statutes Repeal ActPrivate Members' Business

June 3rd, 2008 / 5:50 p.m.
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Norman Doyle Conservative St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to make some comments regarding Bill S-207.

It is well known that this government has from the beginning been supportive of the objective of the bill, which is to improve Parliament's oversight of the coming into force of its legislation. This is still the government's position.

When Bill S-207 was first tabled back in 2002, it opened a very worthwhile debate on an issue that is especially important for parliamentarians.

We as lawmakers have to deal on a regular basis with coming into force provisions that are generally quite straightforward but sometimes troublesome. I have wondered whether we do not rely too heavily on the government at times to decide when to bring legislation into force.

The coming into force of legislation is far from being only a technical or drafting issue. It deals with the existence of the legislation that we work so hard here to develop.

Coming into force provisions are the keys that open entire acts of Parliament. When we debate legislation in Parliament, often forcefully, and manage to amend some legislation to include protective mechanisms and balance the rights of everyone, we expect that these amendments will be integral parts of the new scheme.

We also expect that the laws we study will be implemented in their entirety with all the checks and balances we see in the legislation. In short, we expect to have a complete picture of the framework that will be put in place.

When we agree to let the government decide when it is appropriate to bring some provisions into force, it is because we have been given some reasonable explanations that stand at the time we adopt the legislation. However, what is missing is a general and permanent mechanism to review all of these decisions later when something does not go according to plan.

Senator Banks' Bill S-207 provides a very simple and efficient solution which would ensure that Parliament will be informed when provisions, and occasionally entire acts, that it had trusted to government to bring into force have not been brought into force after nine years.

As we know, Bill S-207 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 are brought into force or exempted from repeal by a resolution of either House of Parliament.

This bill has been tabled several times before. It was debated at length in committee to the point of all parties supporting the bill.

The other place has completed its review of the bill. If it goes through third reading today, it should receive royal assent soon.

Bill S-207 clearly states that it would come into force two years after it is assented to. We could expect a first report from the Minister of Justice at the beginning of 2011 and start dealing with some overdue issues. Let me repeat that it will come into force two years after it has been given royal assent.

In closing, I want to thank Senator Banks for his initiative and also all of those who supported his proposal.

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill S-207, An Act to repeal legislation that has not come into force within ten years of receiving royal assent, as reported (without amendment) from the committee.

Statutes Repeal ActRoutine Proceedings

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