House Cleaning: Federal Statutes Repeal Act

In 2008 Parliament passed the Statutes Repeal Act, aimed at clearing out those portions of federal legislation that have passed, assented to, but not declared in force for, effectively, a decade. That Act was itself proclaimed in force in June of 2010.

Under its provisions, each year the Minister of Justice is to draw up a list of appropriate candidates and present it to the Senate and Commons within five days of the first sitting in the calendar year. Specifically, a target is any statutory provisions that

    (a) was assented to nine years or more before the December 31 immediately preceding the laying of the report; and
    (b) had not come into force on or before that December 31.

The hammer is found in section 3, which provides that anything in the report is repealed on December 31 of the year in which the report is made, unless it is brought into force or otherwise saved by Parliament. Thus there’s a broom with a ten year (9 years without being “in force” + a year to think about it) long handle sweeping up behind our legislators.

There are a mere 45 items on this year’s kill list. I haven’t been through them to see if there are any surprises, but if you find something of interest there, let us know in the comments.


  1. Ontario has the same provision (copied from the federal one) as s. 10.1 of the Legislation Act, 2006. The first list was tabled on March 1, 2011. A report will be required next year about what became of the items on the list (and of course a new list will be required next year of the statutes that fall into the ten-year unproclaimed class.)

  2. With regard to the long broom handle – is it a short handle ? Is this a “may” or “shall” statute bringing these unproclaimed pieces of legislation ? In other words, how much discretion ? For example, for the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act — R.S., 1985, c. 33 (2nd Supp.) we find in the current Table of Public Statutes “Parts II and III or any of those Parts shall come into force on a day or days to be fixed by Proclamation – Not in force”. Parts II and III deal with STANDARD HOURS, WAGES, LEAVE, ETC. and OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH ? Though Part I was in force as of 24 December 1986 ?