C’monnnnnn – Justice Laws Fail

I’m on for a little rant today but this is significant topic, courtesy of one of my LRW students conducting some research on the Nadon appointment to the SCC (on the plus side this does drive home the point I continually try to make that you cannot exclusively rely on one source or the web all the time). Interestingly, I thought we were getting rid of all the print government publications because the Interwebs are so much more efficient and effective? Well try and find SC 2013, c 40 which received Royal Assent on December 12, 2013, over a month ago. Here is the link to the 2013 Annual Statutes however to save you the time, here is what you will see: Annuals Notice the list ends at Chapter 37. No problem you say – go to the Gazette Part III, so let’s meander over to Gazette Part III. Again, to save you the trouble of following the link, here is what you will see: Canada Gazette – Part III- Vol. 36 (2013) 2014-01-17 12-08-22, updated to Vol 36, no 3 SEPTEMBER 2013, no Chapter 40 here.

What brought this about? Well there is the little matter of a recent appointment to the Supreme Court of Canada, it’s been in the news. Which is regulated by the Supreme Court Act, if you go to the Table of Public Statutes and look up the Supreme Court Act you will see that there has been a recent amendment to the act, specifically in the sections that deal with the appointment of Judges. TPS Supreme Court Act. So it seems to me that it rather significant that this amendment be readily available.

I will grant you that IF you know the name of the act (which the TPS does not give you) or the Bill Number (also not provided by the TPS) you can find the Bill form of the act at Parl.gc.ca but that seems like it is beside the point that this is an act that received Royal Assent over a month ago and should be available on the official platform for the Statutes of Canada yet is not. To use the parlance of the interweb age: EPIC FAIL!

To save your suspense the act we are looking for is the Economic Action Plan 2013 Act, No. 2 which at s 471 and 472 did the following:

471. The Supreme Court Act is amended by adding the following after section 5:

For greater certainty 5.1 For greater certainty, for the purpose of section 5, a person may be appointed a judge if, at any time, they were a barrister or advocate of at least 10 years standing at the bar of a province.

472. The Act is amended by adding the following after section 6:

For greater certainty 6.1 For greater certainty, for the purpose of section 6, a judge is from among the advocates of the Province of Quebec if, at any time, they were an advocate of at least 10 years standing at the bar of that Province.

I find it disturbing that one has to go to these lengths to obtain this information, and quite frankly feel that it is unacceptable.


  1. It IS a long time – but in mitigation of fault, I could suggest (a) it’s an extremely long statute, so editing it for the laws site can take longer than a more concise act, (b) it’s an act that amends a lot of different statutes, so transposing it into the consolidated legislation needs a lot of virtual tracing, cutting and pasting, and (c ) it was given Royal Assent just before Christmas, when some of the people needed to do the editing and uploading work were probably on holiday.

    I am a fan of some forms of omnibus bills, for provisions that just don’t justify a freestanding statute. However, they should not be used to hide controversial ideas (they should contain none) or lessen debate on the items they do contain.

  2. Mark,

    You are right, of course.

    But, as an aside, if your student had been an active reader of Slaw, and plugged in the correct keywords, he or she would have found




  3. I’m happy to inform you that SC 2013, c 40 is now available on Justice Laws, I am not sure when it was posted.

  4. As vexing as it may be, it’s a fact of life. John is right to point out that the task of checking and markup is an onerous one because of the bill’s size. Fortunately, there are other ways as you pointed out. The ability to navigate, quickly and efficiently, all of the resources including, when required, parl.gc.ca should be a basic skill in our field. The U of T library school government information students learn this (and will in fact fail one of their assignments if they don’t).

  5. Not to be too critical of the hard working folks at Justice, but are we to believe that there was not a mock up post-amended version of all of these acts prepared before the omnibus bill passed? That seems like a shocking bit of slip-shoddery if true.

    I seems to me that all that should be required once Royal Assent is given is an update or upload of the amended form of legislation that almost certainly would har existed in draft form prior to the Bill even being introduced to he House.