Statutes Repeal Act—Motion to Resolve that the Act and the Provisions of Other Acts not be RepealedPublished on 12 December 2016 Hansard and Statements by Senator Joseph Day
Hon. Joseph A. Day (Leader of the Senate Liberals):
Honourable senators, I asked for the adjournment of this matter because it was not clear to me how this particular statute works, and I also wanted to make sure that it was working as it was intended.
Honourable colleagues will recall that this was an initiative of then Senator Tommy Banks, and the purpose of this bill was to have removed from the books the statutes, laws and bills that we passed that never were brought into force. At the beginning, the books were replete with statutes that had never been brought into force.
If you look at Motion No. 55 on page 6 of the Orders of the Day, you will see what this particular motion does. I got the bill out and compared it to this motion, which is a motion to not repeal certain bills that have been around in statute form. They were passed by both chambers but never brought into force or effect. There is a list of 15 different statutes here.
The request is not to have those statutes removed from the books. Departments that have statutes that were never brought into force are supposed to review these statutes on an annual basis. One of the chambers, either this chamber or the other place, is to go through that list and debate and accept the fact that the department thinks these are still worthwhile and hopes to implement them.
I was interested in how many of these statutes were actually removed from the books, because that was part of the objective, not just to repeat the same list year after year. I took a look at the list, and I want to thank Senator Bellemare for providing me with background information to help me understand how things were working, and I compared over a three-year period those bills that were repeated on the list and those that were not repeated that the department let go. There were a few of those, as well as those that had in fact been implemented. They’d be off the list if they became the law of the land as well.
It is interesting to see this list, honourable senators. Of the 15 that we see here in this particular motion, many were on the list last year.
December 31 is the determining date for those laws that should be struck off the rolls, so to speak, and in December 31, 2015, last year, there were three different statutes whose provisions were repealed. Eighteen were preserved by virtue of a motion, like the one we’re looking at, saying “please don’t take these away.” We see 15 here today. It’s pretty close, and a lot of those 15 were around a year ago as well.
Some were taken away, and that’s good, because that’s the purpose. If they’re not of any use, they shouldn’t be on the books. It makes law students’ job of researching the law a lot easier if they’re taken off the books.
As occurred in 2015, this year’s proposed motion does not save every provision outlined in this particular list. Rather, 20 provisions from five different acts will be repealed under the operation of the Statutes Repeal Act on December 31 of this year, so the system is working. I can tell you that the Canada Grain Act, An Act to amend the Canada Grain Act, another provision; Public Safety Act, there are some provisions there; Budget Implementation Act of 2005, still hanging around. We passed it in an omnibus budget implementation bill over 10 years ago. There is also the Canada Marine Act.
Some of these particular provisions listed in the annual report were brought into force in the course of 2016, and those that were brought into force are off the list. We have about five different statutes in addition to the 15 statutes that we’re keeping by virtue of the department asking that they be kept. We have five that are dropping off from previous years.
Then each year, because they become 10 years, that’s when the flag goes up. They’ll be added to the list if they’re not dropped, so it’s a 10-year provision. They can be there for 10 years without anything happening. After 10 years we start looking at them and asking if it is necessary.
I’m satisfied, looking over three years and looking at what happened, even though there’s a lot of repetition here year after year, that there is a slow realization by the departments that they don’t need to keep all of these, and if we start seeing them three or four years in a row, we should start asking questions. They know that and the department heads know that.
I’m satisfied, honourable senators, that this motion is in order for adoption. Thank you.