Myths of Legislative Research: Part 2 – Source Notes and Hansard

We are continuing our mini-series on myths of legislative research this week, focusing on those myths that often surround source notes and Hansard material.


Myth: The list of source notes included at the end of each section of consolidated law is comprehensive

Fact: The list of source notes at the end of a section of a statute or regulation only goes back as far as the previous consolidation. For example, the list of source notes for s. 19 of the Business Corporations Act is as follows: R.S.O. 1990, c. B.16, s. 19; 2006, c. 34, Sched. B, s. 3; 2011, c. 1, Sched. 2, s. 1 (4). While the earliest source note cites to R.S.O. 1990, c. B16, s. 19, section 19 [SPOILER ALERT] can be traced back beyond 1990.


Myth: The first citation in a list of source notes always represents the enacting statute

Fact: The first citation in a list of source notes can represent a few different scenarios. If the first citation is an annual statute (e.g. 2006, c.24, s.1), it could be indicative of an enacting statute, or a statute that repeals and replaces the section or piece of legislation entirely. If the first citation is a consolidated statute (e.g. R.S.O 1990, c. E.24, s.14), then this indicates that the section goes back to at least that consolidation, but likely beyond that (as discussed in Myth #6).


Myth: Every act has a corresponding table of concordance

Fact: Tables of concordance are usually created by third party publishers to facilitate ease of access. They can either act as a concordance with an older version of the same statute or they point you to the equivalent sections of acts in other jurisdictions. Not all statutes possess a corresponding table of concordance and usually only those that are commonly referenced get this sort of treatment.


Myth: All legislative activity will be discussed in Parliament or the Legislature

Fact: When discussing a bill, members of Legislature or Parliament will not necessarily discuss every single section or aspect of a bill. In the case of omnibus bills (bills that amend many different acts), it is rare that they would run through a clause-by-clause analysis of every single proposed change. Most of the time, discussion centres around points that each member of parliament deems important.


Myth: Regulations undergo the same legislative process as bills, and thus have Hansard

Fact: Regulations are considered “delegated legislation” and are not created by parliament, but instead by a minister of government or another person or body. The purpose of a regulation is to provide details to give effect to the policy established by statute. Because they are not created by parliament, they do not go through the same legislative process as statutes and as such do not have Hansard.

While it is challenging to determine the legislative intent of an Ontario regulation, the Federal government does publish what are known as Regulatory Impact Analysis Statements (RIAS) along with the regulation in the Canada Gazette with the purpose of describing the issues or problems the regulation will address.

Our next post in this series will cover the myths surrounding bills! Stay tuned!