Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs

Report of the committee

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs has the honour to table its

TWENTY-FIRST REPORT

Your committee, to which was referred the document entitled “Proposals to correct certain anomalies, inconsistencies and errors and to deal with other matters of a non-controversial and uncomplicated nature in the Statutes of Canada and to repeal certain Acts and provisions that have expired, lapsed or otherwise ceased to have effect”, tabled in the Senate on May 8, 2017, has, in obedience to its order of reference of Thursday, May 11, 2017, examined the said proposals and now reports the same, with the following comments.

The Miscellaneous Statute Law Amendment (MSLA) Program is a periodic legislative exercise to correct anomalies, inconsistencies, outdated terminology or errors that have crept into the statutes. It provides a process for facilitating the passing of minor non-controversial amendments. Four key criteria must be met in order for any proposed amendments to be included in the Department of Justice’s proposals document; namely, the proposals must not:

•  be controversial;

•  involve the spending of public funds;

•  prejudicially affect the rights of persons; or

•  create a new offence or subject a new class of persons to an existing offence.

As a result of this program, a proposal is referred to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights and the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs. If either committee considers a proposed amendment to be controversial or to not meet the other criteria, it is to be withdrawn. Each committee may also add new proposals for the other to consider, providing that they meet the above-noted criteria.

Once the committees have reported on their review of the proposals, a Miscellaneous Statute Law Amendment bill is tabled. The bill is subject to ordinary enactment procedures; however, since the amendments have already been approved by both committees, it usually receives three readings without debate.

Your committee held one meeting and heard from five departmental officials in reviewing this proposal.

Your committee received a letter from the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations (the Joint Committee) — dated May 17, 2017 — which explained that the MSLA proposal did not include various statutory amendments that the Joint Committee had previously discussed with the relevant government departments and had understood would be addressed by the Department of Justice. As these were not included in this MSLA proposal, the Joint Committee requested that we recommend that the following items be included in the MSLA proposal:

1.  That section 84(1) of the Criminal Code, R.S.C., 1985, c. C-46, be amended to address an error in the name of an organisation referenced in the definition of “prohibited device” and “prohibited firearm”. The name “International Shooting Union” should be replaced with “International Shooting Sport Federation” in the English version and the name “l’Union internationale de tir” should be replace with “la Fédération internationale de tir sportif” in the French version.

2.  That section 53 of the Canada Lands Surveyors Act, S.C. 1998, c. 14, be amended to replace a discrepancy between the French and the English version by replacing the words “sous le régime de” with “dans”. The French version should therefore be amended to read:

Le registraire peut délivrer le permis au demandeur qui satisfait aux exigences prévues dans la présente loi.

Your committee recommends that the Department of Justice add these two items proposed by the Joint Committee to the 2017 MSLA proposals.

Your committee is concerned that the Department of Justice has failed to address the requests of the Joint Committee. The Joint Committee is mandated to enquire into and report on most aspects of the federal regulatory process. The important work performed by the Joint Committee should be properly addressed by the Department of Justice during the MSLA process and through the introduction of any bills necessary to make the amendments it recommends, unless there are valid reasons to not do so. Your committee also notes that in 2014 in its Nineteenth Report of the 41st Parliament, 2nd session, it was recommended that: 

… in the future, consideration be given that similar proposals be referred to the Standing Joint Committee on Scrutiny of Regulations in order to allow for a better coordination of queries and undertakings from the various government departments.

Your committee reiterates its previous recommendation and recommends that future MSLA and similar proposals be prepared by the Department of Justice in a manner that ensures that the Joint Committee’s recommendations are given proper consideration.

Your committee notes that in the aforementioned Nineteenth Report, it was recommended that future MSLA proposals be prepared on a more regular basis. The committee is pleased to see that the MSLA process has been resumed in a timely manner.

Respectfully submitted,

BOB RUNCIMAN

Chair