Mr. Norman Doyle (St. John's East, CPC)
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to make some comments regarding Bill S-207.
It is well known that this government has from the beginning been supportive of the objective of the bill, which is to improve Parliament's oversight of the coming into force of its legislation. This is still the government's position.
When Bill S-207 was first tabled back in 2002, it opened a very worthwhile debate on an issue that is especially important for parliamentarians.
We as lawmakers have to deal on a regular basis with coming into force provisions that are generally quite straightforward but sometimes troublesome. I have wondered whether we do not rely too heavily on the government at times to decide when to bring legislation into force.
The coming into force of legislation is far from being only a technical or drafting issue. It deals with the existence of the legislation that we work so hard here to develop.
Coming into force provisions are the keys that open entire acts of Parliament. When we debate legislation in Parliament, often forcefully, and manage to amend some legislation to include protective mechanisms and balance the rights of everyone, we expect that these amendments will be integral parts of the new scheme.
We also expect that the laws we study will be implemented in their entirety with all the checks and balances we see in the legislation. In short, we expect to have a complete picture of the framework that will be put in place.
When we agree to let the government decide when it is appropriate to bring some provisions into force, it is because we have been given some reasonable explanations that stand at the time we adopt the legislation. However, what is missing is a general and permanent mechanism to review all of these decisions later when something does not go according to plan.
Senator Banks' Bill S-207 provides a very simple and efficient solution which would ensure that Parliament will be informed when provisions, and occasionally entire acts, that it had trusted to government to bring into force have not been brought into force after nine years.
As we know, Bill S-207 would require the Minister of Justice to report at the beginning of each calendar year on all acts and provisions that have not been brought into force in the past nine years. These acts and provisions would be repealed at the end of the year, unless during the year they are brought into force or exempted from repeal by a resolution of either House of Parliament.
This bill has been tabled several times before. It was debated at length in committee to the point of all parties supporting the bill.
The other place has completed its review of the bill. If it goes through third reading today, it should receive royal assent soon.
Bill S-207 clearly states that it would come into force two years after it is assented to. We could expect a first report from the Minister of Justice at the beginning of 2011 and start dealing with some overdue issues. Let me repeat that it will come into force two years after it has been given royal assent.
In closing, I want to thank Senator Banks for his initiative and also all of those who supported his proposal.
Topic: Private Members' Business
Subtopic: Statutes Repeal Act