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A guide to accessing and utilizing Canadian legislation.

Terms and Definitions to Know


Act: "A decree proclaiming the law in an area, passed by a competent legislative body, that may proclaim new law, alter or modify existing law, or repeal previously existing law.  See STATUTE*"

Amend: "A legislature amends an established law by passing a statute (AMENDMENT) that continues the law in changed form.*"

Bill: "In legislation, a document submitted to Parliament or a provincial legislature for its consideration and/or enactment.  If approved, it becomes law in the form of a STATUTE.*"

Private Bill: "A bill that applies only to an individual or coporation (corporate individual).  For example a bill to incorporate a specific company.*"

Public Bill:  "A bill that is general in nature and applies to all persons in a given jurisdiction.*"

Revised Statutes:   "A publication by government authority of unrepealed public general statutes.  Every ten or fifteen years, most Canadian jurisdictions revise and consolidate their public general acts in order to eliminate errors, consolidate amendments and generally tidy things up.  When the revision is completed, the revised statutes are proclaimed in force and the former versions are repealed." 

Statute: "An act of the legislature; in Canada an act of a provincial legislature or the Federal Parliament adopted pursuant to constitutional authority.  Statutes constitute a primary source of law and are enacted, for example, to prescribe contuct, define crimes, create inferior government bodies, appropriate public monies and in general promote the public good and welfare."*

Regulation:"A form of subordinate legislation.  It is a normal practice for most modern statutes to confer lawmaking powers upon the Governor General in Council or Lieutenant Governor in Council for the further carrying out of the purposes of the Statute in question.  Such practice enables the government (federal or provincial) to act expeditiously and provide additional regulations without the necessity of enacting new statutes.  The power to enact regulations may also be conferred upon a Minister or government official (e.g., a Registrar of Motor Vehicles), an administrative board etc."*

Repeal: "1. To abolish, rescind, annul by legislative act. 2. The abrogation or annulling of a previously existing law by the enactment of a subsequent statute, which either declares that the former law shall be revoked and abrogated or contains provisions to contrary to or irreconcilable with those of the earlier law that only one of the two can stand in force.  The latter is Implied Repeal; the former, the Epress Repeal"

Orders in Council:"Order is a proper term for describing an act of the Governor-in-Council by he which exercises a law making power, whether the power exist as part of the prerogative or devolve upon him by statute.  Order is generally understood as comprising subordinate legislation issued for a particular situation, as distinct from regulation, which is generally taken to comprise subordinate legislation of general and substantive effect."*



*John A. Yogis, "Barron's Canadian Law Dictionary (Hauppauge, New York: Barron's Educational Series, Inc, 2009)"