Updating Federal Statutes Using LEGISinfo (Tip of the Week)

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By Ken Fox

As promised, this week’s research tip will allow you to search for recent updates to a federal statute using LEGISinfo, the Parliament of Canada’s “essential research tool.”

LEGISinfo has also been called the “Mercedes Benz” of federal legislative information. This is apt in that it is a very high quality resource, but is misleading in that it suggests the best among equivalent sources. In fact, LEGISinfo is a one-of-a-kind resource in terms of its scope and function. If the Justice Laws Website is an excavator that can dig up hidden layers of historic legislation, LEGISinfo is more of a borehole rig that drills into the Parliamentary process, and draws out core samples that can be studied at various stages of growth, down to their minute historic details.

But for finding recent legislative updates, the big advantage LEGISinfo offers is searchability.

Let’s say, for example, that you are interested in the Copyright Act. You remember that there were major amendments a couple of years ago – but when did the changes take effect? And has there been any amendments to the act since then? These questions can be answered using the Canada Gazette, but it is much easier with LEGISinfo.

Look for the search box in the left-hand column, and enter the key term “copyright” –

FedLeg9

The search returns 475 hits, with the most recent results at the top. Five hits down, we come to the Copyright Modernization Act, from the 1st session of the current Parliament:

FedLeg10

The chapter number, long title, and short title are on display, as well as a progress bar that shows how far along the bill is, or for past sessions, how far the bill progressed before the session ended. In this case, the bill passed through all three readings in the House of Commons (the green bars), the Senate (red bars), and received Royal Assent (the blue bar).

Further down the list, we come to identically-titled bills from previous sessions, such as –

FedLeg11

This bill, from the 3rd Session of the 40th Parliament, only reached Second Reading before the session ended – so the bill was reintroduced at a later session.

Getting back to Bill C-11, the Copyright Modernization Act that was passed and made law, if you click on the title of the act, you get a page of detailed information about its passage through the Parliamentary process. At the very bottom of the page is the date of Royal Assent, and the chapter number in the Statutes of Canada:

FedLeg12

So the bill was passed into law as 2012, chapter 20 on June 29. But that is not necessarily the date the act came into force. For that information, you need to look at the right-hand column of the page, under Additional Information, and click on the last heading, “Coming into Force” –

FedLeg14

The Coming Into Force provision from the act is displayed. This act, as most, became effective by proclamation. The proclamation in this case is complex, and relates to the date of publication of the orders or statutory instrument wherein the proclamation appears. Also displayed are the reference numbers to the Statutory Instruments – SI/2012-85 and SI/2014-58. And luckily, you already know how to locate orders and regulations in Part II of the Canada Gazette – so you’re set!

But we’re not quite done yet. We know when the major amendments to the Copyright Act of 2012 became effective – but has the act changed since then? To answer this question, we need to back up to our search results – you can use the BACK button or retype “copyright” in the search box.

Look at the first few, most recent, bills. There are a couple of Private Member’s bills, both numbered C-516 in different sessions (Private Member’s bills originating in the House are numbered C-200 or higher), and a couple of Government Bills, C-56 and C-8. In both cases, there is a bill from the first session of the 41st Parliament that did not pass, and a same-titled bill in the second session, which is currently sitting. Bill C-8, the Combating Counterfeit Products Act has passed in the House, and reached Second Reading in the Senate.

Again, click on the bill title for more information. This time, at the bottom of the page, we see a note saying that the Senate has declared its proceedings on the bill “null and void.”

So it seems the Copyright Act has not changed since chapter 20 of 2012 came into force, and is not likely to change in the current session. But to keep current going forward, you know where to go.

This is Part 6 of a multi-part series on researching federal legislation:  Part 1Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 7

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