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Legislative Process

The House of Commons spends a great deal of time debating and voting on bills and is considered the major law-making body of Parliament. The House is solely responsible for introducing any bill that either collects or spends public funds.  Government bills that are introduced in the House of Commons are prefixed with the letter "C" and are numbered consecutively from -1 to -200, while private Members' bills are numbered consecutively from -201 to -1000.  The Senate or "Upper House" is appointed by the Governor General on the advice of the Prime Minister.  Senators lack the power of initiating financial legislation.  Senate bills are prefixed with the letter "S" and private bills mostly introduced by the Senate are numbered at 1001 and higher.  Current Canadian House and Senate bills maybe found at the Parliament Website.  The path a Canadian bill is as follows:

  • Introduction: The process begins when a bill is introduced.
  • First Reading: The bill is "read" for the first time, without debate, and printed.
  • Second Reading: The principle of the bill is debated. It is then voted on and the bill is sent to a parliamentary committee.
  • Committee Stage: A committee hears witnesses, examines the bill clause by clause and submits a report recommending the bill be accepted as is or with amendments, or that it not proceed any further.
  • Report Stage: Additional amendments to the bill may be moved, debated and voted on.
  • Third Reading: The bill is debated a final time and voted on.
  • Message: Once passed, the bill is sent to the Senate, where the process starts again from first reading.
  • Royal Assent: The Governor General or a deputy gives the bill Royal Assent.

LEGISInfo is a Website used to search Canadian House or Senate bills.  Includes Government bills, and Private Members' Public bills for the House of Commons and is searchable from the 37th Parliament (2001) to the present.

Consolidated Acts and Regulations provides simple and advanced search options of current laws and regulations of the Canadian government.  This site also provides links to several important resources for case law, bills, regulations, reference documents, income tax law, and frequently accessed statutes.

Canada Gazette is the official newspaper of the Canadian government and publishes notices and proposed regulations, official egulations, and Acts of Parliament.

How a Government Bill Becomes a Law-Canada is a resource for depository libraries that gives more detail to the legislative process.

About Bills describes the five types of bills that can be introduced.  This also describes the Legislative Summaries that are prepared by the Parliamentary Research Branch.

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