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.