There are many common myths surrounding legislation and legislative research, and these myths have the potential of running researchers into a fair bit of trouble. In this new blog post miniseries, we’ve decided to take a crack at dispelling and demystifying those myths that the average researcher may encounter.
Myth: Legislation always comes into force on royal assent
Fact: Legislation can come into force on royal assent, but it can also come into force by proclamation, on silence, it can be deemed to come into force on a specific date, or can even be linked to the coming into force of another provision or another piece of legislation entirely. For more on the different ways legislation can come into force, check these blog posts: At your Fingertips: Proclamations and Annotations and A New Year’s Resolution for Legislative Researchers – Never Assume.
Myth: Before e-Laws and Justice Laws came into being, legislation was consolidated each year
Fact: Before legislation began to be regularly consolidated on e-Laws and Justice Laws, researchers had to wait for the Revised Statutes of Ontario and Revised Statutes of Canada for consolidations of statutes, and the Revised Regulations of Ontario and Revised Regulations of Canada for consolidations of regulations. On average, these Revisions were produced every decade and used to be a long and arduous process to complete– for example, the last Federal revision in 1985 took approximately 4 years to complete! This means that when in need of a consolidation in-between these Revisions, researchers often must build their own.
Myth: All enacted legislation was consolidated in the Revisions
Fact: Not all legislation made it into these Revisions, as evidenced by such tools as the Table of Unconsolidated and Unrepealed Acts (like the one included in the 1990 Revised Statutes of Ontario) which outlines those acts not included in the Revisions. While the exclusion of legislation in these Revisions does not mean that they are no longer in force, it can make tracing legislation back a little more complicated (I’m looking at you, Railway Act).
Myth: Every act is a public act
Fact: Don’t forget there are private acts too! Private acts typically relate to a particular organization, corporation, or individual named in the Act. Check out the Table of Private Acts on Justice Laws and the Private Statutes Table on e-Laws.
Myth: Section numbers remain the same throughout time
Fact: Section numbers can (and most often are) renumbered throughout time, which can make legislative tracing a little trickier. But don’t fret, as long as you follow the procedure surrounding the use of source notes as outlined in this post here, you will be able to track those changes.
Stay tuned as we expose many more pesky myths!