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The blog of the Great Library

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Progress Report: Status of Ontario Bills as of the Summer Recess

Summer is here and while the Great Library remains open—albeit with shortened hours—these hot and sunny months have us thinking (perhaps enviously) of those who break for the season entirely.

As of June 7th, the Legislative Assembly of Ontario stands adjourned and will not return until October 28, 2019. This natural midpoint serves as the perfect opportunity to take stock of the activity of the House so far this year (February 19, 2019 – June 6, 2019). To help with this task, we have compiled a list of those bills which have progressed through the House this year and have identified the latest stage they reached before the summer recess.

First Reading

Second Reading

Committee Stage

Royal Assent

Stay tuned to our blog this fall when we’ll begin a new current awareness feature – weekly summaries of both Ontario and federal legislative activity.

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Finding Hansard Online: Canada and Ontario

It is the universal dilemma of the researcher in the Digital Age: suspecting the information you seek is accessible online, but not knowing where or how to find that information. While not all of the Hansard transcripts (Debates) of the Parliament of Canada and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario are available online, a significant portion has been digitized and made freely available on public websites. This blog post is meant to act as a quick guide to finding Hansard online.



Canadian Parliamentary Historical Resources

This portal provides digitized versions of the debates, journals, and selected committee documentation of the Senate and the House of Commons from the 1st Session of the 1st Parliament (1867) until the end of the 1st Session of the 35th Parliament (1996).


Parliament of Canada Website

House of Commons

“House Publications” – View sitting dates by browsing through the House of Common sessions from the beginning of the 1st Session of the 35th Parliament (1994) onwards (current day). Also provides access to the Journals and Order and Notice Papers for the same time period.


“Debates of the Hansard (Senate)”– View sitting dates by browsing through the Senate sessions from the beginning of the 2nd Session of the 35th Parliament (1996) onwards (current day). Also provides access to the Journals and Order and Notice Papers for the same time period.


This research tools provides detailed information about federal bills, including direct links to debates of the Senate and House of Commons for all bills starting with the 37th Parliament in 2001.


To find Ontario debates online see our post, Ontario Hansard Then and Now.

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A Lesson in Anatomy: The Canada Gazette 

As the official newspaper of the Government of Canada, published under the authority of the Statutory Instruments Act, the Canada Gazette contains a wealth of government information from new and proposed regulations to various public notices. The materials published in the Canada Gazette can form the backbone of much of your primary legal research — if you know where to look! In this post we’ll examine the anatomy of the Canada Gazette and dissect its 3 separately published parts to provide some clarity.

Part I

Part I of the Gazette is published every Saturday and is organized into six parts: Government House, Government Notices, Parliament, Commissions, Miscellaneous Notices and Proposed Regulations. It is most often used to look for orders-in-council, proposed regulations and their Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement (RIAS) and federal agency or departmental notices.

Quarterly Indexes provide a handy list of notices and orders-in-council published in Part I in the previous 3 months.

Part II

Part II is published bi-weekly on Wednesdays. This part contains important information for legislative research purposes, namely enacted regulations, other classes of statutory instruments, and orders. Part II is where to find orders fixing the coming into force dates for acts. Every document contained in Part II can be identified and is organized chronologically by a specified number: a Statutory Orders and Regulations (SOR) number or a Statutory Instruments (SI) number.

Part III

Part III contains official versions of public Acts of Parliament along with their enactment proclamations. This part of the Gazette is now less used than in the past, since recently enacted or “assented-to” versions of acts can be readily accessed in other places, such as the Justice Laws website or through LegisINFO. Part III is published irregularly, essentially whenever the Department of Justice determines there are enough newly enacted statutes to warrant it.

All parts of the Canada Gazette since 1998 are available on the “Canada Gazette Publications” webpage. (PDF versions since April 1, 2003 are official for evidence purposes.) For older issues, look to the Canada Gazette Archives. The Great Library has hard copies of the Canada Gazette from its inception in 1841 to 2014, the year the federal government discontinued the print publication.

For further reading, the Government of Canada has produced a helpful webpage on Understanding the Canada Gazette, as well as a History of the Canada Gazette.

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Prohibited Pets and Where to Find Them – Researching Municipal By-laws

Can my neighbour keep ferrets as pets, and if so how many? This question about what animals are permitted as pets in the City of Toronto recently led us into the world of municipal by-law research.

The City of Toronto website provides three great tools for this type of research:

  1. City of Toronto Municipal Code

The Code is an updated compilation of by-laws, divided into 3 parts – Administrative, General and Traffic and Parking By-laws, each organized by subject specific chapters.

You can browse the Code by chapter/subject, or use the separate search function. The table of contents includes links to any recent amendments made to a Code chapter since the last update.

(A quick note about scope – the Code contains administrative by-laws and by-laws that have general application to people and places across the City of Toronto, but it doesn’t include by-laws from decisions about specific people, places or things.)

  1. City of Toronto By-laws

Annual by-laws made by the City of Toronto are available from the current year back to 1998 (the year of municipal amalgamation in Ontario). You can browse this collection by year or by-law number, or use the keyword search function.

  1. By-law Status Registry

The Registry includes the history and status of by-laws, including older by-laws (many of which are still in force today) from the former municipalities of Toronto, Metropolitan Toronto, East York, Etobicoke, North York, Scarborough and York back to 1834.

Now, back to the ferrets… our research in the City of Toronto Municipal Code led us to Chapter 349, Animals which sets out the rules for keeping and caring for animals in the city. The by-law also provides a long list of Prohibited Animals (Schedule A). We found that ferrets fall under the family of Mustelidae, a grouping of carnivorous mammals that also includes skunks, weasels, otters and badgers.  Ferrets are however specifically exempted in the Schedule.

While it appears ferrets are safe to keep as pets, we noted that a significant portion of the animal kingdom is not; residents are prohibited from keeping anteaters, elephants, fruit bats, hyenas, penguins, sloths and wallabies, to name a few. Interestingly, snakes are fine as long as they reach an adult length under 3 metres.

There is no mention of maximum ferret numbers per dwelling unit in Chapter 349 of the Code (although § 349-5 restricts the number of dogs to three and cats to six). Searching the City of Toronto annual by-laws, we found an earlier by-law (28-1999) which did provide that “no person shall keep in any dwelling unit more than six (6) of any combination of dogs, cats, ferrets and rabbits…” However checking in the By-law Status Registry confirmed that Chapter 349 of the Code superseded the earlier by-law.

Here are some other useful resources to assist with basic by-law research:

About Bills, By-laws and the Municipal Code – FAQs

By-law and Toronto Municipal Code Services – for questions and to obtain certified copies of by-laws

By-law Digitization Program – on-going scanning project of pre-1998 by-laws passed by the Toronto and former municipalities (Copies of by-laws not yet scanned can be requested from the City of Toronto Archives.)

A Brief History of Zoning Bylaws in Toronto, Toronto Reference Library Blog, Dec. 14, 2015

Rogers, The Law of Canadian Municipal Corporations (Thomson Reuters loose leaf) KF 5305 R63 / Practice Collection, 2nd Floor; also available on Proview – Chapter IX, By-laws provides background and commentary on drafting, enacting, enforcing, and repealing by-laws

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The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

December is known as Universal Human Rights Month. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), adopted in Paris on December 10, 1948. The milestone document consists of 30 articles setting out the basic human rights and freedoms – civil, political, economic, social and cultural for “all peoples and all nations”.

The universality of the Declaration is reflected in the fact that it is the most translated document in the world. There are currently 515 translations from Abkhaz to Zulu, as well as sign language versions, child-friendly versions, and illustrated versions.

To mark Universal Human Rights Month, here is a short selection of resources for researching the UDHR: