Incorporation by Reference in Regulations Act

An Act to amend the Statutory Instruments Act and to make consequential amendments to the Statutory Instruments Regulations

This bill was last introduced in the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in August 2015.

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Statutory Instruments Act to provide for the express power to incorporate by reference in regulations. It imposes an obligation on regulation-making authorities to ensure that a document, index, rate or number that is incorporated by reference is accessible. It also provides that a person is not liable to be found guilty of an offence or subjected to an administrative sanction for a contravention relating to a document, index, rate or number that is incorporated by reference unless certain requirements in relation to accessibility are met. Finally, it makes consequential amendments to the Statutory Instruments Regulations.

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.

Votes

June 18, 2015 Passed That the Bill be now read a third time and do pass.
June 15, 2015 Passed That Bill S-2, An Act to amend the Statutory Instruments Act and to make consequential amendments to the Statutory Instruments Regulations, {as amended}, be concurred in at report stage [with a further amendment/with further amendments] .

Incorporation by Reference in Regulations ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2015 / 10:30 a.m.
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Mississauga—Erindale Ontario

Conservative

Bob Dechert ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice

Mr. Speaker, today I would like to speak about Bill S-2, the incorporation by reference in regulations act. Yes, this is riveting. While it may not be the subject of headlines, it is actually very important.

Bill S-2 has been studied by the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights and has been reported without amendment back to the House. Before that, the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs also reported the bill, without amendment, to the House for consideration.

This bill deals with a regulatory drafting technique. Essentially, the bill clarifies when federal regulators can or cannot use the technique of incorporation by reference.

The technique of incorporation by reference is currently used in a wide range of federal regulations. Indeed, it is difficult to think of a regulated area in which incorporation by reference is not used to some degree.

Bill S-2 is about securing the government's access to a drafting technique that has already become essential to the way governments regulate. It is also about leading the way internationally in the modernization of regulations. However, more directly, Bill S-2 responds to concerns expressed by the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations about when incorporation by reference can be used. This bill would create the legal clarification that is needed so that regulators and the committee can ensure that there is no uncertainty in the process of incorporation by reference.

Incorporation by reference has already become an essential tool that is widely relied upon to achieve the objectives of the government. Both committees have heard that it is also an effective way to achieve many of the current goals of the cabinet directive on regulatory management, which are cabinet's instructions on how to ensure effective and responsive regulations. For example, regulations that use this technique are effective in facilitating intergovernmental co-operation and harmonization, a key objective of the Regulatory Cooperation Council established by the Prime Minister and President Obama. By incorporating the legislation of other jurisdictions with which harmonization is desired, or by incorporating standards developed internationally, regulations can minimize duplication. This is an important objective of the Red Tape Reduction Commission. The result of Bill S-2 would be that regulators would have the option of using this drafting technique in regulations aimed at achieving these objectives.

Incorporation by reference is also an important tool for the government to help Canada comply with its international obligations. Referencing material that is internationally accepted, rather than attempting to reproduce the same rules in the regulations, also reduces technical differences that create barriers to trade and is, in fact, something Canada is required to do under the World Trade Organization's Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement.

Incorporation by reference is also an effective way to take advantage of the use of the expertise of standards writing bodies in Canada. Canada has a national standards system that is recognized all over the world. Incorporation of standards, whether developed in Canada or internationally, allows the best science and the most accepted approach in areas that affect people on a day-to-day basis to be used in regulations. Indeed, reliance on this expertise is essential to ensuring access to technical knowledge across the country and around the world.

Testimony by witnesses from the Standards Council of Canada before the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights and the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs made it clear how Canada already relies extensively on international and national standards. Ensuring that regulators continue to have the ability to use ambulatory incorporation by reference in their regulations, meaning the ability to incorporate by reference a document as it is amended from time to time rather than just in its fixed or static version, means that Canadians can be assured that they are protected by the most up-to-date technology.

Incorporation by reference allows the expertise of the Canadian national standards system and the international standards system to form a meaningful part of the regulatory tool box.

Another important aspect of Bill S-2 is that it allows for the incorporation by reference of rates and indices, such as the Consumer Price Index or the Bank of Canada rates, which are important elements in many regulations.

For these reasons and more, ambulatory incorporation by reference is an important instrument available to regulators when they are designing their regulatory initiatives. However, Bill S-2 also strikes an important balance in respect of what may be incorporated by reference by limiting the types of documents that can be incorporated when they are produced by the regulation maker. Also, only the version of such documents as they exist on a particular day can be incorporated when the documents are produced by the regulation maker only. This is an important safeguard against circumvention of the regulatory process.

Although there was some testimony at the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights that suggested that the bill should go even further to allow more types of documents to be incorporated by reference, including documents produced by the regulation maker, we believe that Bill S-2 strikes the right balance, and where further authority is needed, Parliament can and has authorized incorporation by reference of additional material.

Parliament's ability to control the delegation of regulation-making powers continues, as does the oversight of the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations. We expect that the standing joint committee will continue its work in respect of the scrutiny of regulations that use incorporation by reference. The standing joint committee will indeed play an important role in ensuring that the use of this technique continues to be exercised in a way that Parliament has authorized.

One of the most important aspects of this bill relates to accessibility. Bill S-2 would not only provide a solid legal basis for the use of this regulatory drafting technique but would also expressly impose in legislation an obligation on all regulators to ensure that the documents they incorporate are accessible. While this has always been something the common law required, this bill clearly enshrines this obligation in legislation.

There is no doubt that accessibility should be part of this bill. It is essential that documents that are incorporated by reference be accessible to all those who are required to comply with them. This is an important and significant step forward in this legislation.

The general approach to accessibility found in Bill S-2 will provide flexibility to regulatory bodies to take whatever steps might be necessary to make sure that the diverse types of material from various sources are in fact accessible. In general, material that is incorporated by reference is already accessible. As a result, in some cases, no further action on the part of the regulation-making authority will be necessary. An example is provincial legislation, which is already generally accessible. Federal regulations that incorporate provincial legislation will undoubtedly allow the regulator to meet the requirement to ensure that the material is accessible.

Sometimes accessing the document through the standards organization itself will be appropriate. It will be clear that the proposed legislation will ensure that the regulated community will have access to the incorporated material, with a reasonable effort on their part. It is also important to note that standards organizations, such as the Canadian Standards Association, understand the need to provide access to incorporated standards. By recognizing the changing landscape of the Internet, this bill creates a meaningful obligation for regulators to ensure accessibility while still allowing for innovation, flexibility, and creativity.

Bill S-2 is intended to solidify the government's access to a regulatory drafting technique that is essential to modern and responsive regulation. It also recognizes the corresponding obligations regulators must meet when using this tool. The bill strikes an important balance that reflects the reality of modern regulation while ensuring that appropriate protections are enshrined in law. No person can suffer a penalty or sanction if the relevant material is not accessible to them.

This proposal is consistent with the position the government has long taken on the question of when regulations can and cannot use the technique of incorporation by reference. It will provide express legislative authority for the use of this technique in the future and will confirm the validity of existing regulations incorporating documents in a manner that is consistent with that authority.

We have many years of successful experience with the use ambulatory and static incorporation by reference in legislation at the federal level, and this knowledge will be useful in providing guidance in the future.

To conclude, the enactment of this legislation is the logical and necessary next step to securing access in a responsible manner to incorporation by reference in regulations. I would invite all members to support this legislative proposal and recognize the important steps forward it contains.

Incorporation by Reference in Regulations ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2015 / 10:40 a.m.
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NDP

Ève Péclet NDP La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, in his speech, the parliamentary secretary spoke a lot about accessibility. However, there are no guidelines in the bill that would help determine the definition of accessibility. I therefore have the following questions. First, in the parliamentary secretary's view, what would be the definition of an accessible document? Second, does he believe that a document that the department charges Canadians for is an accessible document or not?

Incorporation by Reference in Regulations ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2015 / 10:40 a.m.
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Conservative

Bob Dechert Conservative Mississauga—Erindale, ON

Mr. Speaker, the first point is that currently there is no requirement at all that documents incorporated by reference be accessible. This bill is actually enshrining that in law for the first time. That is very important.

With respect to accessibility, it really depends on what kind of information is being incorporated by reference. Obviously, some of this information is very technical and could go on for hundreds of thousands of pages. I am thinking of transport standards, aviation safety standards, and electrical standards as set out by the national standards organizations of Canada.

In each case, I think the regulators, when they incorporate by reference, need to state where that would be. I would imagine that in this day and age it is going to be on the Internet. It is going to be available in both official languages. When it is used in a regulation, they will indicate where it can be found.

Incorporation by Reference in Regulations ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2015 / 10:40 a.m.
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Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, we often hear that things can best be found in the details. When I think of Bill S-2, I cannot help but look at this as a bill that provides a great deal of detail.

My question is with respect to the idea of international standards and the impact they have on different departments in terms of their responsibility to make sure that there are high standards. To what degree does Ottawa work with nations in dealing with trade agreements, as an example? To what degree has the Government of Canada worked with the EU or Ukraine, for example, to finalize agreements for which we would have regulations that would be more in sync?

Incorporation by Reference in Regulations ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2015 / 10:45 a.m.
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Conservative

Bob Dechert Conservative Mississauga—Erindale, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada incorporates many international standards and laws of different states by reference in regulations. A really good example would be the North American Free Trade Agreement. To harmonize trade between Canada, the United States, and Mexico, there are many pieces of legislation and international standards that are incorporated by reference in the regulations to the North American Free Trade Agreement.

He raises the question of the European Union comprehensive economic trade agreement. Those regulations are not yet drafted. That will come in time.

He also raises the question of a trade agreement with Ukraine, which is something our government is very interested in. I think it would be beneficial to both Canadians and the people of Ukraine.

On international standards, such as air transport and safety regulations, Canada is most famously home to the International Civil Aviation Organization, in Montreal, which is a UN body that sets civil aviation safety standards. Those standards are incorporated by reference into Department of Transport regulations, which regulate air safety in Canada.

Incorporation by Reference in Regulations ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2015 / 10:45 a.m.
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Okanagan—Coquihalla B.C.

Conservative

Dan Albas ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for his speech and for his work as a parliamentary secretary. He does a fantastic job for this government and also for his riding.

What I would like to ask him is actually further to what the previous member asked about: trade.

I believe that Canadians are fair and practical people. We want to see Canadian businesses succeed, not just here in Canada but abroad. I think many of those businesses would benefit by knowing that when we sign free trade agreements and see tariff-free access and see our services being able to go to those countries, and vice versa, there would not be gaps on the regulatory side. He mentioned international shipping issues and whatnot. Canadians know that, first, we can compete abroad, but if we do not have harmonization, those kinds of irritants will hinder Canadians from getting out and trading, and I think Bill S-2 would help set some guidelines for that.

Would the member please further explain in terms of trade and harmonization?

Incorporation by Reference in Regulations ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2015 / 10:45 a.m.
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Conservative

Bob Dechert Conservative Mississauga—Erindale, ON

Mr. Speaker, that is actually a very good question. In any trade agreement, access to thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of products is open through the agreement. If the legislation of both countries, or multiple countries, in that trade agreement is not harmonized in the way they regulate technology and the way they regulate food, for example, that could actually end up causing an unnecessary barrier to trade, a technical barrier to trade.

Incorporation by reference allows legislators in each country to incorporate each other's legislation, which means that all of those products that are meant to be traded without tariffs would be able to be done that way.

Incorporation by Reference in Regulations ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2015 / 10:45 a.m.
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NDP

Paulina Ayala NDP Honoré-Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am a member of the Standing Joint Committee on Scrutiny of Regulations. It was already a concern to see the department legislate more and more by way of regulations without respecting the spirit of the law. It is said that all Canadians should know the law. Here, we are talking about open incorporation by reference and laws that exist elsewhere. The members opposite talked about free trade agreements. That can change over time. If one day a ruling is needed on a case, which law will the ruling be based on? Where do we begin to assign fault to someone who did not obey the law if the law itself is not defined and it is always being added to and evolving?

I find that the analysis of the Standing Joint Committee on Scrutiny of Regulations is being ignored. I would like the member opposite to comment on that.

Incorporation by Reference in Regulations ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2015 / 10:45 a.m.
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Conservative

Bob Dechert Conservative Mississauga—Erindale, ON

Mr. Speaker, I think the member will find that the legislation clearly states that all regulations are subject to the review of the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations. Parliament authorizes, in any trade agreement, the harmonization and adoption by reference of legislation from another country, and then it is the job of the committee that she sits on and her colleagues on that committee to review those regulations and make sure that they are as intended by Parliament.

Of course, that can be reviewed from time to time, as regulations might change, but the purpose of trade agreements is to harmonize the agreement between Canada and the other country so that the business people in both countries can trade their goods and services without tariff to the benefit of consumers in both countries.

Incorporation by Reference in Regulations ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2015 / 10:50 a.m.
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NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, as the official opposition trade critic, I am most interested in this discussion. There are some very good points being made on both sides of the House.

Obviously, trading jurisdictions have a shared interest in making sure that goods and services can flow as freely as possible across borders. However, I am wondering about some of the difficulties that could come up in that regard. As an example, the United States allows hormones in its milk, whereas Canada does not. When there are different sensitivities and sensibilities of populations over something that may involve public health or different views on things like that, there could be difficulty determining which jurisdiction is going to prevail in that regard.

I am wondering if the hon. member has any comments on that type of issue and how he sees the ability of each country or jurisdiction to maintain democratic control over their standards. How does that play into the bill?

Incorporation by Reference in Regulations ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2015 / 10:50 a.m.
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Conservative

Bob Dechert Conservative Mississauga—Erindale, ON

Mr. Speaker, there is absolutely no concern in that regard. First of all, governments have been drafting legislation and regulation incorporating documents by reference from other countries for decades. There have been no guidelines on how it should be done. Now there will be. That is what Bill S-2 would do.

Second, in situations such as the one the member describes, hormones in milk are not acceptable in Canada. It would be contrary to Canadian regulations. Parliament has oversight over that, so that would not change, and if there were a change in regulations in the other country's legislation, that would actually put the agreement out of sync. It would not be harmonized in that case.

As I said, Parliament can review it. The government, through the Department of International Trade, would review it, and it would also be reviewed by the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations.

Incorporation by Reference in Regulations ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2015 / 10:50 a.m.
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NDP

Ève Péclet NDP La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak to this extremely problematic bill. I will provide more details in my speech.

This bill stems from the tabling of the 80th report of the Standing Joint Committee on Scrutiny of Regulations in December 2007. The committee found that:

...the incorporation by reference of external material into regulations “as amended from time to time” should, in the absence of clear authority, be seen to be [inappropriate and] illegal.

In fact, the parliamentary secretary just confirmed that incorporation by reference is a long-standing practice in the departments. However, we have a report here that says that without a clear law to that effect, these incorporations should be considered inappropriate and illegal. I will read the last clause of the bill:

18.7 The validity of an incorporation by reference that conforms with section 18.1 and that was made before the day on which that section comes into force is confirmed.

I will explain to those watching today—I know many people are—what this government has just done and what the parliamentary secretary has just confirmed to us. The parliamentary secretary just acknowledged that incorporation by reference is currently illegal, but now he is making it legal. Material was incorporated by reference without enabling power and without enabling legislation, which means that, unfortunately, we could have hundreds of thousands of incorporations by reference. I do not know exactly how many. Thousands of incorporations by reference may have been done without legislative authority. That is a problem.

One has to wonder what the purpose of such a bill is. We know that the Conservatives' budget contained a small provision—hidden in a large budget that is hundreds of pages long—that legalized an illegal act committed by the RCMP. Here, the Conservatives are legalizing incorporations by reference that the Standing Joint Committee on Scrutiny of Regulations would consider inappropriate and unlawful. I have here the findings of the report. The first thing that came to mind was the following question: how can we really vote for a bill that would make retroactive amendments to allow actions that were not allowed before Bill S-2 was passed? I would like to remind members that this bill has not yet passed. In accordance with this bill, incorporation by reference is unlawful and inappropriate right now. I would simply like to put that out there, and members will have to decide whether it is acceptable or not. However, in my opinion and in the opinion of the NDP, this sort of retroactive amendment cannot be allowed without a law that allows regulations to be incorporated by reference.

That is some of the background behind Bill S-2. The government said that there was a problem because it did not have regulatory power so it was going to pass a law that would give it this regulatory power to incorporate regulations by reference.

In his speech, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice said that this bill gives guidance and direction with regard to the various incorporation by reference mechanisms. I would like to remind him that I asked this question to a number of witnesses who appeared before the the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

These witnesses clearly told me that the bill unfortunately did not address their concerns and that it did not create rules and guidelines for making regulations and incorporations by reference. I have the minutes of the meeting. The witnesses clearly told me that Treasury Board and the government must adopt directives and guidelines as quickly as possible for making regulations and for incorporations by reference. There are currently none, and Bill S-2 does not change that. All it does is grant the general authority to make regulations by reference. It does not include directives or guidelines.

I will give a very quick overview of incorporation by reference. It is a technique for drafting laws or regulations that refer to another piece of legislation, in order to avoid having to recopy everything in the bills. I will concede that we save a lot of paper by doing this. This technique is used to incorporate legislative texts, for example, regulations, rates, texts from other jurisdictions—provincial or federal—or other legislative texts from other governments, meaning other states.

There are two types of incorporation by reference. There is static incorporation, which means that when a reference is made to a regulation, the reference is made to the regulation as it exists at the time the legislation is passed, without any amendments that are made in the future.

There is also dynamic, or open, incorporation, which automatically incorporates changes to other incorporated regulations. This means that if we incorporate regulations from another country, like the United States—the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice mentioned international trade—and that country amends its regulations, ours will also be changed. Governments change and we have no way of knowing what kind of amendments a new government might make, but these amendments will automatically be made to Canadian laws.

This means that these amendments will never be reviewed by parliamentarians. That is a problem. Canadians, who are supposed to know the law, and parliamentarians, who are supposed to study it, will not be able to do so. They will not necessarily be aware of all of the changes made to the hundreds of thousands of regulations pertaining to legislation in other countries. In addition, incorporations by reference will not even have to be published in the Canada Gazette.

That is a big problem because all of the government's regulations must be published in the Canada Gazette before coming into effect, to prevent abuses. The problem is that clause 18.4 states that the requirements in the Statutory Instruments Act for registration and publication of regulations do not apply to documents incorporated by reference. That means they do not have to be published in the Canada Gazette. The government is creating an exception. Usually, as I said, all laws and regulations have to be published in the Canada Gazette. However, clause 18.4 confirms that documents incorporated by reference will not have to be published.

There is a double standard here. I can imagine what the Conservatives are thinking. They will say that this has already been published, but that is not the problem. Perhaps it has already been published as it stands, but it did not say that it would apply to another law or another regulation. The problem is not that the regulations have already been published. What matters is knowing that the application of the regulation to another regulation will never be published. How, then, is anyone supposed to know what anything applies to, if it is not published in the Canada Gazette? That is very problematic.

If we cannot figure out what anything applies to, and it is not published in the Canada Gazette, what is the Conservatives' idea of accessibility? Do they think that everyone should just know how to find that information online? If so, I would remind them that the Canada Gazette website is usually where people look up which regulation applies to which law or which regulation by incorporation applies to which regulation.

If it is not published in the Canada Gazette, then where? Will it be posted on the department's website? If that is what they mean by accessibility criteria, then I hope there will be no fees involved because the Canada Gazette can be accessed for free. Will there be fees? Will it be translated in both official languages?

In any case, I sincerely hope so because the United States is not subject to bilingualism requirements. If we incorporate U.S. regulations by reference, I hope that the government will ensure that these regulations are translated into French and English for all Canadians.

A letter sent by the Standing Joint Committee on Scrutiny of Regulations raises some concerns that I raised in committee and for which the government has not provided a response, unfortunately. Generally, ambulatory incorporation by reference of administrative documents produced internally by the federal government should not be allowed in federal regulations.

Why not? When documents are incorporated by reference by the regulatory authority itself, there is a risk of abuse and of creating a system where that authority has a free pass to incorporate by reference and make changes to the regulations without submitting the material for review by parliamentarians. That is very problematic.

Several thousand regulations could be incorporated by reference every year, without parliamentarians being notified and without these regulations being subject to review by a parliamentary committee. I find that very problematic. That shows that the Conservatives are not at all concerned about creating a parallel means of making regulations and opening the door to abuse by using incorporation by reference.

Only when this is deemed to be essential should it be permitted, and that should be clearly indicated in the enabling legislation, not in Bill S-2. This is general enabling legislation concerning the general authority to adopt measures by incorporation, not a specific power given to a department or departmental agency, for example.

It is no big deal for the Conservatives. They will just pass Bill S-2 and create a general power that applies to all departments and departmental agencies. That way, they will not have to include it in specific enabling legislation. That is what Bill S-2 does.

For example, the bill talks about the power to incorporate by reference rates, numbers and indices established by, for example, a body other than the regulation-making authority. However, we do not know what body is being referred to. The bill refers to persons or bodies other than the regulation-making authority. Could that be public servants or peace officers? I do not know.

When we pass a law we generally want it to be clear. What is a person or body other than the regulation-making authority?

This came up a number of times in the debates on Bill S-2 in the Senate. It was said that the bill was not clear enough and that guidelines were necessary. Unfortunately Bill S-2 will not fix that because it does not include guidelines as to who can use this new power or who or what is considered a person or body other than the regulation-making authority. As I already said, this came up a number of times during the Senate's studies.

Incorporation by reference of foreign legislation, as amended from time to time, is another problem. Once again, in the report and in the letter sent to the minister, the Standing Joint Committee on Scrutiny of Regulations clearly stated that ambulatory incorporation by reference of foreign legislation should not generally be permitted.

It goes on to explain that with ambulatory incorporation by reference of federal, provincial or foreign legislation, parliamentarians do not have the option of reviewing the amendments. I am not making this up. It was in a report and in a letter from the Standing Joint Committee on Scrutiny of Regulations. The committee provides some examples, such as the fact that Ontario, Australia, New South Wales, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory have all prohibited the incorporation by reference of foreign legislation.

There are already some Commonwealth countries that say that foreign legislation should never be incorporated by reference, especially not as amended from time to time, because parliamentarians then do not have the opportunity to examine any amendments that may be made to the law. We cannot allow amendments to be incorporated into Canadian laws without debating them in the House of Commons. That is clear. Any amendments to regulations must be put before the House. That is clear. That is how a parliament works. It is a legislature.

The report of the Standing Joint Committee on Scrutiny of Regulations also talks about how such power should not necessarily be exercised without guidelines. For example, the report indicates that the regulation-maker who drafts the actual text of the regulations or who decides to incorporate material by reference must act within the clear limits of the authority bestowed upon him by law. The enactment of general provisions governing incorporation by reference could raise questions about whether those provisions constitute autonomous authority or whether they are subject to the conditions of the enabling legislation under which the regulation-maker makes a regulation by incorporating a document by reference.

It says here in the report that the passage of Bill S-2, which is a general authority for incorporation by reference, unfortunately may not meet the conditions and guidelines. Since no such conditions exist, that is a bit difficult. However, that could mean that this does not meet the conditions of the enabling legislation that falls within the purview of a department or agency.

That is very problematic. I think all members need to think about this before they allow hundreds of pages of regulations to evade parliamentary scrutiny. I am asking members to vote against this bill.

Incorporation by Reference in Regulations ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2015 / 11:10 a.m.
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Mississauga—Erindale Ontario

Conservative

Bob Dechert ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice

Mr. Speaker, listening to my colleague from the justice committee, one would wonder if anyone in the New Democratic Party has ever read the North American Free Trade Agreement or any of the regulations thereto. If she had, she would know that for more than 20 years, these kinds of incorporation by reference have done this. Previously we had no guidelines for this. Now we have guidelines in Bill S-2.

If we had an NDP government, business would grind to a halt. This probably points out why the NDP is against every trade agreement in the world. Business could not be done if Parliament had to review every regulation. She knows that is not how it is done.

The bill would put some parameters, control and basic guidelines around what has been done in Canada, in the provinces and in every major nation in the world for decades.

The member would know that in any trade agreement, there are dispute resolution mechanisms. What does she think the civil servants of Canada do, the public servants at International Trade and Foreign Affairs or the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Transport. They review those regulations and the regulations of other countries, and ensure they fit within the laws of Canada and the authority given to them by Parliament. That is why we have public servants. If we did not have people doing that, we could not have these kinds of agreements, which make the international economy work. The things she is saying really do not make sense.

I want to point out one other thing. She talked about regulation-making authority. Subclause 18.1(4) of Bill S-2 includes the definition of regulation-making authority, which includes the Governor-in-Council or the Treasury Board, the minister who recommends the making of regulation, the minister who is accountable to Parliament for the administration of the regulation, any person, other than Statistics Canada, for which either of those ministers is accountable to Parliament. In other words, the people who have the authority to write the regulations are accountable to Parliament.

Incorporation by Reference in Regulations ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2015 / 11:15 a.m.
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NDP

Ève Péclet NDP La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, every time I stand in the House and raise concerns, the only criticism my colleagues from the Conservative Party have against me is that I do not make sense. I do not know if that is unparliamentary, but those criticisms were not only raised by myself, but were raised by the parliamentary committee on regulations and by the Senate committee on regulations.

If the hon. member really thought I did not make sense, then he probably thinks the parliamentary committee on regulations and the Senate do not make sense, with which I totally agree. My speech was only based on the report from the hon. member's committee and the Senate. There are deep concerns that we let go of our privilege of studying law just because the Conservatives want to adopt Bill S-2, which is ridiculously large to implement right now, and it would ignore the study of regulations by the people who are elected by Canadians to study law.

If the hon. member thinks this does not make sense, then it is time for the government to go.

Incorporation by Reference in Regulations ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2015 / 11:15 a.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I certainly would never mention to that colleague that she did not make sense. I find she makes very good sense.

I am very concerned by the incorporation of regulations by reference. It is fine for the Conservatives to say that it has been done in the past in other laws, but the increasing and sweeping use of incorporation of regulations by reference does reduce public accessibility. It reduces our knowledge of what is moving through the Canada Gazette. It reduces the opportunity for Canadians to know what regulations they have to meet. I have seen it referred to in the media as a “sleeper law”, something that appears so dry that it does not gain public attention, but which does have deeply anti-democratic implications.

Would my hon. colleague like to expand on why she believes she continues to make sense?