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Drafting of Bills

Bills are drafted in one of several ways depending on the type of bill. Bills are always drafted in both official languages.

Government Bills

The production of a government bill begins when the government decides to transform a policy initiative into a legislative proposal. The Department of Justice then prepares a draft bill, following instructions given by Cabinet and based on consultations with the department or departments involved.

Once the bill has been drafted in both official languages, it must be approved by Cabinet. The Government House Leader is responsible for reviewing the bill and recommending that it be introduced in Parliament.

Private Members’ Bills

Members of the House of Commons who are not in Cabinet may introduce bills that will be considered under Private Members’ Business. A private Member’s bill is typically drafted on behalf of a Member of Parliament by a legislative counsel employed by the House, who ensures that it conforms to statutory law (including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms) and all relevant drafting conventions

When completed, a private Member’s bill is certified by legislative counsel pursuant to the Standing Orders of the House of Commons indicating that it is in the correct form. The certified copy of the bill is then sent to the Member, who can introduce it in the House when he or she sees fit, after giving 48 hours’ written notice.

Private Bills

Most private bills are introduced in the Senate, but they are introduced in the House of Commons on rare occasions. A private bill is sponsored by a private Member and is founded on a petition that must first receive a favourable report by the Examiner of Petitions or by the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. A private bill for an Act of incorporation must conform to a model bill, which may be obtained from the Clerk of the House and is subject to fees.

If the promoter of any private bill decides to present it to the House of Commons first rather than to the Senate, legislative counsel of the House can assist with the drafting of the bill and can advise on the stages in its passage of the bill.

Drafting by a Committee

Pursuant to Standing Order 68(4)(a), a Minister may instruct a committee to prepare and bring in a bill or a committee may be appointed for that specific reason. A committee that has been instructed to prepare a bill will recommend the principles, scope and general provisions of the bill and may prepare a bill in draft form. Concurrence in the committee report constitutes an order of the House to bring in a bill based on the report.

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