Proclamation by Media Release

Law librarians dutifully tell their students that s. 11(3)(c) of the Statutory Instruments Regulation, C.R.C. 1978, c. 1509 requires that proclamations must be published in the Canada Gazette, Part II. We also them show them various alternative ways to find coming into force information, including, among other things, the Orders-in-Council website.

This week, however, I experienced “proclamation by media release” regarding the coming into force of the Wage Earner Protection Act and subsequent amendments to the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and the Companies Creditors Arrangement Act. This Act was “proclaimed in force” by the Minister in a July 7, 2008, news release here. However, try as I might, I was unable until this morning to officially confirm that information. I had heard there was “off the record” confirmation by various government bureaucrats over the last two days that the Act was proclaimed in force but there was no official word that I could source until the orders-in-council were published here this morning (with publication in the Canada Gazette presumably to follow).

Is it too much to ask the government to have the official proclamation (with the details needed by lawyers that is often in the formal proclamation) available on the day of their media launch? It was awkward to be left scrambling for two days not knowing the details. I take it the Governor General was perhaps on holidays and not available to sign the orders . . . .? Or perhaps the government couldn’t wait for a “good news” announcement . . . .?


  1. Her Excellency may be away from Ottawa but that doesn’t excuse this sort of behaviour because there will always be an Administrator to sign any proclamation.

  2. Thanks Ted – I’d been looking out for this, but missed the news release. It’s one of my pet peeves on the provincial side here in New Brunswick that orders in council proclaiming acts in force often don’t get published in our Royal Gazette until some weeks after they were filed (i.e. the legislation comes into force days and sometimes weeks before any notice of such is published). They say ignorance of the law is no excuse, but I would think it should be in the case of a law proclaimed in force prior to the publication of its proclamation.

  3. I add my thanks Ted.

    In Alberta, the fastest way to get info about a proclaimation is to monitor the Alberta government’s RSS feeds as our Orders in Council come out as a …wait for it…government news release before anything else.

    At least we only need to watch one place!

  4. Sorry, but isn’t there a fairly fundamental constitutional question here about the Queen in Parliament. While it may well be up to the Minister in practice to decide when events have occurred so that proclamation can occur, it’s surely not the Minister’s role to signify that event. Section 18 of the Interpretation Act seems to support that view. Senator Eugene Forsey would be rolling in his grave.
    Interestingly, I stumbled on a nice list of recent Canadian proclamations.

  5. I find this practice quite disturbing. On the surface it seems to be a small matter; but really is a fundamental issue to how our system of government works. What can be done to bring this matter the attention it deserves (and hopefully rectified)?

  6. “Proclamation by media release”. I love it! I’m waiting for the day I find out about coming into force info as it’s trailing behind a small plane.
    This proclamation took up a lot of my time too. I ended up calling the Privy Council who gave me the PC number so I could search on the OIC search engine. I was told the SI2008-0078 would be in the Canada Gazette on July 23. I hope this is not the wave of the future.

  7. Addressing the topic of where to go to track down the information, I’ll throw another source into the mix (along with a bit of a plug for us!):

    For those who might not know, the BC Courthouse Library is another place to check for federal proclamation information. We check weekly (and as needed) for procs and post the information as soon as we get it in the “Canada Proclamations” section on our website. You can also call us to see if we’ve heard anything about a proclamation that’s in the news. We don’t always have an actual copy of the proc right away but we sometimes have the in force information before it goes up on the OIC website, and can usually get a copy of the proc if needed. In this case I’m not sure if we got the information fast enough to be helpful, but thought people might benefit from knowing that we keep a close eye on this.

  8. Suzy – you couldn’t get an rss feed on that page could you? :)

  9. Karen – I just attempted to scrape it to RSS using Feedity with no luck. If each entry had a link or was enclosed with a unique block of code, then it would be easier to do. Other feed creation tools may provide better results, though.

  10. Karen, we do have a feed for our What’s New, which includes the federal procs (plus BC procs and other items of interest). We’re in the process of completely redesigning our website – the new site, due out the beginning of next year, will offer much more in the way of customization including feeds for specific areas.

  11. Mark my words I am sure there is more to this than meets the eye…after the 2 draft regs were issued earlier this year, we were told that nothing much was happening on this until September..then suddenly in July, two final regs with no warning and the orders, only available on the OIC site after the fact..the whole news release etc was very vague sending you to web sites that had no information. We have been following the whole C-55 saga with much interest…perhaps the hurry has something to do with the 24,000 Ontario jobs lost in June…or a possible election in the fall???

  12. Normally, I would be regarded as the one that looks upon government timing of actions and elections with a fair degree of informed scepticism, but the idea that the proclamation of the Wage Earner Protection Act and subsequent amendments to the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and the Companies Creditors Arrangement Act implies to the PMO a level of attention that is unbelievable. Generally, I would always believe that someone has blundered.