This enactment is the 11th in a series of bills introduced under the Miscellaneous Statute Law Amendment (MSLA) Program. It amends 80 Acts to correct grammatical, spelling, terminological, typographical and cross-referencing errors, update archaic wording and correct discrepancies between the two language versions. It also updates the names of certain provinces and territories. For example, “Newfoundland and Labrador” replaces “Newfoundland” in several amendments to take into account the 2001 constitutional amendment that changed the name of that province. Other amendments correct the names of courts in certain provinces to reflect changes resulting from the reorganization of the courts in question. Finally, some amendments repeal legislative provisions that no longer have any application, for example provisions relating to veterans of the South African War (1899-1902).
This enactment has been drafted based on the Eighth Report of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights tabled in the House of Commons on November 24, 2014 and the Nineteenth Report of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs tabled in the Senate on November 27, 2014.
Background and Process
The MSLA Program was established in 1975 to allow for minor non-controversial amendments to be made to a number of federal statutes at once, in one bill, instead of making such amendments incrementally when a particular statute is being opened for amendments of a more substantial nature.
The legislative process for introducing a MSLA bill in Parliament is different from the usual legislative process and involves four main steps: the preparation of a document containing the proposed amendments; the tabling of that document in Parliament and its review by a committee of each House; the preparation of a MSLA bill, based on the committees’ reports, that contains the proposed amendments that were approved by both committees and finally, the introduction of the bill in Parliament.
The proposed amendments must meet all of the following criteria:
(a) not be controversial;
(b) not involve the spending of public funds;
(c) not prejudicially affect the rights of persons;
(d) not create a new offence or subject a new class of persons to an existing offence.
The document containing the proposed amendments is tabled in the Senate and referred to its Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs and in the House of Commons and referred to its Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. Each committee reviews the proposed amendments in the document, prepares a report of its findings and presents it to the appropriate House.
Perhaps the most important feature of committee review is that, since a proposed amendment must not be controversial, its approval requires the consensus of the committee. Therefore, if a single member of a committee objects for any reason to a proposed amendment, that proposed amendment will not be included in the MSLA bill.
After committee review, a MSLA bill is drafted based on the reports of the two committees and contains the proposed amendments that were approved by both committees. Once the bill is introduced in Parliament, it is subject to the ordinary enactment procedures; however, the bill usually receives three readings in each House without debate since the amendments contained in the bill have already been considered and approved by committees of both Houses.