How Laws Are Created: In Canada, a proposed law starts out as a bill, typically first presented in the House of Commons. It must be approved in three readings in both the House and Senate. A committee is often appointed to study the bill, which can call on outside experts for insights. Once the House and Senate have approved a bill it is sent to the Governor-General for Royal Assent. Once that is granted it becomes law.
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How are Canadian Laws Created?
All three parts of Parliament – the elected House of Commons, the appointed Senate and Governor General – play key roles in the formation of criminal law in Canada. Every law goes through three readings in the House and Senate, with members giving input into how legislation should be structured. Outside stakeholders can be called in to offer advice. Before the bill becomes law, all three branches of Parliament must approve the final version.
What Happens at First Reading?
Any law starts as a bill introduced in either the Senate or the House of Commons, though most bills are first introduced in the House. When introducing the bill, a Member of Parliament (MP) generally provides a brief summary of the proposed legislation. After the bill is considered read for the first time, it is printed. There is no debate. Under House rules, each of the three readings of the bill must be done on separate days.
What Happens at Second Reading?
At this stage, MPs are given a chance to debate the scope of a bill and whether it is adequate to address the issue at hand. The debate at this stage focuses on the principle of the bill, and the text may not be amended at this stage. Members will instead try to answer questions such as “Is the idea behind the bill good?” and “Does it meet people’s needs?” If the Chamber votes for the bill and passes this stage, it goes to a committee.
A minister may move that a government bill be referred to a committee of the House for further study. Committee members conduct a clause-by-clause study of the bill to understand its ramifications fully. The committee can hold hearings to gather more information and ask government officials and stakeholders to come to Ottawa to answer questions. The committee can then propose amendments to the bill. When a committee has finished its study, it reports the bill to the House. The entire House can then debate the proposed amendments to the bill.
What Happens at Third Reading?
Debate at this stage focuses on the final form of the bill. Some MPs who voted for it at second reading may change their minds at the third reading after they see amendments made to the bill. Once the motion for third reading has been adopted in the House, the bill is then sent to the Senate with a message requesting that it consider the bill.
What Happens in the Senate with Bills?
The Senate follows a three-step review process similar to the House, after which Senators can adopt a Commons bill without amendment. However, if Senators request amendments, they send them to the House for consideration. If the House disagrees with the proposed changes, it will adopt a motion stating the reasons for its disagreement that is shared with the Senate. If the Senate wishes the amendments to stand nonetheless, it will send a message back to the House, though information from Parliament (Legislative Process) notes that “most times the Senate will accept the decision of the House.”
What is Royal Assent?
Once the House and Senate approve a bill, it is presented to the Governor-General for Royal Assent. Once granted, the bill becomes law and goes into force either on that date or at a date in the future. Royal Assent can be given in the Senate chambers or the Governor-General’s residence.
What Type of Bills Become Law?
There are two main categories of bills: public and private. Public bills deal with matters of national interest, while private bills grant special powers, benefits or exemptions to a person or persons, including corporations. Most bills considered by the House of Commons are public bills. If a minister initiates a public bill, it is referred to as a “government bill.” If a private member initiates a public bill, it is called a “private member’s bill.”