Gaps in Electronic Legislation

I used to have a working VHS player and a copy of the movie Speed. Often a scene from the movie will pop into my (overactive?) mind when I am looking for legislation from my desk:

01:03:38 – Jack, what did he say?
01:03:42 – What’s the matter?
01:03:49 – There’s a gap in the freeway. – What?
01:03:53 – What do you mean? – How big is a gap?
01:03:56 – 50 feet. A couple of miles ahead.

I remember when looking for legislation at my desk was rarely a reasonable option. Today, if I can’t browse my way to what I am looking for I feel (quite unreasonably) annoyed.

I should be feeling very lucky. In Alberta, we have the Alberta Law collection at Our Future Our Past: a searchable repository of bills, statutes, pre-Alberta ordinances, the Alberta Hansard and Alberta journals and the Alberta gazette. This collection is part of the Alberta Heritage Digitization Project, a non-profit endeavour that ran from 1999 to 2010. The site covers the early stuff really, really well.

I am also lucky that the Alberta Queen’s Printer offers plenty of great material, including the Alberta Gazette from 1995 onward. The QP also has a very reasonably priced subscription site QP Source Professional with annual statute volumes from 1996 on, Orders in Council back to 1967, though many years are a list only and do not include the appendices where regulations are found.

In Alberta, our gap is 1991 to 1995 for annual statute volumes and 1991-1994 for regulations. No quite 50 feet of road, but unlike Sandra Bullock, I don’t have access to a gas pedal to clear the gap.

Do you know where your gap is for electronic legislation in your jurisdiction?

The web is littered with movie quotes. This one came from Subzin.


  1. In BC it’s not so much a gap as an electronic legislation cliff, making us Wile E. Coyote to your Sandra Bullock. Back up a few years and there’s nothing there. Only one jurisdiction has less historical depth than BC on CanLII. Subscription resources like Quickscribe offer access to more historical BC legislation, but we have no BC equivalent to Alberta’s amazing Heritage Digitization Project. Wile E Coyote isn’t highly quotable but the deteriorating condition of our heavily used historical BC annual statute volumes brings his “Help” sign to mind.

  2. The Law Society of Upper Canada Great Library lays the availability of online statutes and regulations in Ontario. Ontario Elaws has Current Consolidated Law as well as Source Law (Statutes and Regulations as Enacted) back to 2000. The Annual Statutes of Ontario are digitized on the Internet Archive 1981 -1999. (For Annual Statutes, the online gap appears to start in 1980 and goes back to Confederation.) The Revised Statutes of Ontario are on the Internet Archive 1914-1990 (Complete RSO’s for 1877, 1887, and 1897 are still needed online)

    The Internet Archive has the annual volumes of the Ontario Regulations 1944-2008 and the Revised Regulations of Ontario 1950-1990. For earlier regulations you can consult the online index “Table of proclamations, orders-in-council and regulations made from 1st January 1933 to 20th May 1944” through the Ontario Legislative Library catalogue. The Ontario Gazette is online from 2000-current.

    Current Ontario Hansard is on the Legislative Assembly of Ontario website (1981-present), and historical Ontario Hansard (1945- 1980) is available on the Internet Archive, so no gaps here, other than the first year of Hansard, 1944.

    Bills are on the Legislative Assembly of Ontario website from 1995 to current. Digitized versions of all versions of public and private bills from 1867–1998 are also available on the Internet Archive. While current Journals are available on the Legislative Assembly of Ontario website (see Votes and Proceedings), the full text of historical Journals of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario from December 1867 to September 2005 are available through the Legislative Library catalogue , on the Internet Archive and through Our Ontario

    Also check out Bora Laskin Law Library’s guide Older Canadian Legislation