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Rules of the Senate

Chapter Eleven: Petitions and Private Bills


Petitions from individuals

11-1. (1) A petition shall be clearly written and signed by the petitioner.

Petitions from corporations

11-1. (2) The Senate shall not receive a petition from a corporation unless it is duly authenticated.

Petitions on behalf of public meetings

11-1. (3) A petition signed by persons purporting to represent a public meeting shall be received only as the petition of those who have signed.

Petitions for Private Bills

Private bill introduced after petition and examination

11-2. (1) A private bill may be introduced only after a petition for the bill has been received by the Senate and then favourably reported upon by the Examiner of Petitions for Private Bills.

Suspension of rules

11-2. (2) A motion to suspend any rule relating to petitions for private bills shall not be in order unless the suspension has been recommended by the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament.

Examiner of Petitions for Private Bills

Appointment of Examiner

11-3. (1) The Clerk Assistant of Committees, or another official designated by the Clerk of the Senate, shall be the Examiner of Petitions for Private Bills.

Examination of petitions

11-3. (2) The Examiner shall consider petitions for private bills received by the Senate.

If petition is in order

11-3. (3) If a petition is in order, the Examiner shall so report to the Senate.

If petition is defective

11-3. (4) If the petition is, in the Examiner’s opinion, defective, the Examiner shall so report to the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament, with an explanation of the defect. The committee shall study the matter and report to the Senate any recommendation it considers to be appropriate to deal with the defect.

Notice and Publication

Publication in the Canada Gazette

11-4. (1) A notice of every application to Parliament for a private bill shall be published in the Canada Gazette.

Content of notice

11-4. (2) The notice shall:

(a) state the nature and purpose of the application;
(b) be signed by, or on behalf of, the applicants; and
(c) contain the address of the party signing it.

Company name

11-4. (3) If the application is for an act of incorporation, the notice shall also state the name of the proposed company.

Notice in newspapers

11-4. (4) The notice published in the Canada Gazette, or a similar notice, shall be published in the gazettes of the provinces and territories concerned, and in one or more leading news publications with substantial circulation in the areas concerned, if the act applied for:

(a) is to incorporate a company whose objects relate to transportation and communications generally, or is to amend an act that incorporates such a company;
(b) is to obtain any exclusive rights or privileges; or
(c) is to extend the powers of a company or to increase or reduce the capital stock; to alter powers related to borrowing or the issuing of bonds; or to make any amendments that would in any way affect the rights or interests of shareholders, bondholders or creditors of the corporation.

Frequency and language of notice

11-4. (5) All notices concerning an application for a private bill shall be published at least once a week for a period of four weeks. They shall be published in English and French in the required official gazettes, and, as numbers warrant, in English, French or both in other publications.

Notice to government departments

11-4. (6) If an act being applied for would declare the works or objects of a company to be for the general advantage of Canada, the applicants shall disclose this in the notice and send the notice by registered mail to the federal, provincial and municipal departments concerned; the Examiner of Petitions for Private Bills shall not consider the petition for the bill any earlier than two weeks after the notice has been sent to all concerned.

Constitution Act, 1867, paragraph 92(10)(c)

Statutory declaration

11-4. (7) An applicant shall file a statutory declaration with the Clerk proving that the notice requirements have been met.


Deposit of bill and fees

11-5. A person seeking to obtain a private bill originating in the Senate shall deposit with the Clerk:

(a) a copy of the bill in English or French;
(b) a sum to pay for:

(i) the costs of translating and printing the bill, and
(ii) the costs of printing the act in the statutes; and

(c) an additional amount of $200.


Public bill rules to apply generally

11-6. Except as provided in this chapter, the rules relating to public bills apply to private bills.

Obligatory referral of a private bill to a committee

11-7. After second reading, a private bill shall be referred to a committee and representations made in the Senate for or against the bill shall also be referred to the committee.

No referral to Committee of the Whole

11-8. Unless otherwise ordered by the Senate, a private bill reported by a committee shall not be referred to a Committee of the Whole.

Minimum time before committee study

11-9. A Senate private bill shall not be considered by a committee until one week after referral. A private bill originating in the House of Commons shall not be considered until 24 hours after referral.

Questions about provincial jurisdiction

11-10. After its introduction and first reading, two Senators may require that a private bill be referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs so that it can evaluate and report on whether the bill comes within exclusive provincial jurisdiction.

Constitution Act, 1867, sections 92, 92A and 93

Private bill from the Commons

11-11. If a private bill is received from the House of Commons without the Senate having previously received a petition for the bill, that bill shall, after being introduced and read a first time, stand referred to the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament for consideration and report in lieu of a petition.

Private Bill Register

11-12. The Clerk shall maintain a Private Bill Register, which is available for public examination during office hours. The register shall include the following:

(a) the names, addresses and descriptions of the applicants for a private bill or their agents;
(b) a record of the legislative stages through which the private bills have passed, from receipt of the petition to passage, including the date; and
(c) a brief outline of each proceeding in the Senate or committee on either the petition or the bill.

Notice of committee meetings

11-13. A daily list indicating the time and place of any committee meetings on private bills shall be posted in public, readily accessible locations in the Senate.

Interested persons

11-14. A person whose interests may be affected by a private bill:

(a) may ask to appear before a committee examining the bill or submit a written brief to the committee; and
(b) shall appear before the committee examining the bill if required to do so by the committee.

Notice of substantive amendments to private bills

11-15. One day’s notice is required for any substantive amendment proposed to a private bill in Committee of the Whole or on motion for third reading.

Commons amendments referred to committee before consideration by Senate

11-16. When a private bill is returned from the House of Commons with substantive amendments, the amendments shall, before being considered by the Senate, be referred either to a Committee of the Whole or to the committee to which the bill was originally referred.

Reference of private bill to Supreme Court

11-17. At any time before the adoption of a private bill, the Senate may order that it be referred to the Supreme Court of Canada for examination and an opinion on any point identified in the order of reference to the court.

Supreme Court Act, section 54

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