More Unproclaimed Federal Legislation Dies

The federal Statutes Repeal Act S.C. 2008, c. 20 sweeps up behind our legislators, killing off statutes that were passed and assented to nine years or more ago but that were never proclaimed in force. At the beginning of each year the Minister of Justice is required to lay before both houses of parliament a list of such statutes. If by the end of that year a statute on the list still has not been proclaimed in force, it is ipso facto repealed.

We have just had the end of the grace period for statutes listed at the beginning of 2012, and according to the Ministry of Justice Annual Report twenty statutes or bits thereof were defunct as of December 31.

As you might expect, the list is scattershot, impossible to summarize and equally difficult to judge in any of its parts without a good understanding of the various contexts. A couple of titles struck me as intrinsically interesting, though:

The Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Implementation Act, S.C. 1998, c. 32 never was and now never will be—which, on the face of it at least, seems a shame. I believe, though, that the fault, if that’s the right word, is not ours but rather belongs to other members of the nuclear club: the treaty is to come into force itself only when all 44 nations who have nuclear capabilities have ratified it.

The defunct legislation contains one of the most singular provisions you’re likely to find in a statute:

7. (1) Every person is guilty of an indictable offence and is liable to a term of imprisonment for life who
(a) carries out a nuclear weapon test explosion or any other nuclear explosion for the purpose of developing qualitative improvements in nuclear weapons or developing new types of nuclear weapons . . .

Something about the disproportion of this strikes me as very odd. And then there are those who set off H-bombs for reasons that have nothing to do with the improvement of anything.

Another matter of possible general interest is that a number of would-be provisions in the Firearms Act have now been repealed. I’m not able at the moment to say whether, in the current climate, they are of significance or not.

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Comments

  1. Actually, neither of those statutes have been repealed. The Act indicates that legislation that has not been brought in to force after 10 years will be repealed unless the House or Senate adopts a resolution saying they shouldn’t be.

    On December 12 the Senate adopted a motion saying that the provisions you listed, along with provisions of 12 other Acts that had not yet been brought into force should stay on the books.

  2. Many thanks for this “observer.” I do tend to forget about the Senate. Those interested in the statutes saved in this way can see the list at http://www.parl.gc.ca/Content/Sen/Chamber/411/Debates/130db_2012-12-12-e.htm#44

    And there’s a nice little potted history of the Statutes Repeal Act as well in the debates.

  3. Ontario has similar legislation. Here is the news release from the Premier of Ontario about the Ontario statutes from 2002 that were proclaimed in force and the others that are now repealed by operation of law.

    This is the second year for this process in Ontario. In neither year did the Legislature resolve to preserve any statutes.

  4. Thanks, John. Because of your helpful comment when I wrote about this act last year, I tried to hunt down Ontario’s list but simply couldn’t find it on the website. Will it always come out in the form of a Premier’s press release, do you know?

    The release itself is far superior to the federal version, containing as it does a small capsule summary of what the repealed statute would have accomplished.

  5. I couldn’t find it on the Premier’s news release site myself, but someone had given me the URL… I think the legislative provision is too recent (enacted in 2009, first effective in 2011) to be able to judge what will ‘always’ happen.

    It was timely that Ontario proclaimed its International Interests in Mobile Equipment Act in force as of December 31, since the federal government has now deposited Canada’s instrument of ratification of the Cape Town Convention that is implemented by that Act. The Convention (and aircraft protocol that makes it important) come into force in Canada (seven provinces and one territory so far, as well as the feds) on April 1, 2013.