Passing a new law.doc

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1Passing a New Law
There are many different starting points for laws - the political agenda of the government,
ministries seeing a problem developing, many citizens complaining about some aspect of daily
life that is not functioning well (Travel problem example), industry representatives seeking
change by the legislators concerning some aspect of their industry. All of these sources will have
input to the final policy paper by the relevant ministry suggesting change, and that policy paper,
if agreed to by the Cabinet (the ministers of the governing party and the Prime minister/premier
and his or her deputy) will be put into statutory language and become a bill.
In the Provincial Legislatures:
First reading The bill is brought to the legislature by the Minister responsible for that kind of
subject matter (e.g. The Health Minister for any health-related matter.) And placed on the table,
with an explanation as to why it is being brought to the legislature. Copies are distributed and
everyone can go and look at it. The other political parties will decide whether they will or will not
support it.
Second reading The legislature will vote on whether it thinks this kind of legislation is a good
thing in principle. Usually, as with first reading, since the government party has a majority, it
passes this vote. However, where there is a minority government, the government will have to et
enough votes from some of the other parties to pass this vote.
At this point, the bill goes into a committee which is charged with examining it, clause by clause.
The committee consists of members of each party in the legislature in proportion to their
numbers in the legislature. Most of the work is done by the Minister responsible for the bill,
his/her Deputy Minister (the top civil servant in the Ministry), and the critics for each of the other
parties (sometimes called Shadow Ministers because they may well take the place of the current
Minister if the government loses at the next election.) who question the Minister about the bill.
The other committee members tend to pay little attention until it comes to a vote.
Third reading The bill comes back to the legislature where any amendments made in the
committee are discussed and voted on, and controversial aspects of the bill are debated. Finally
the bill is voted on by the whole legislature.
If it passes, it goes to the Lieutenant Governor of the province, the Queen’s representative in the
province, for Royal Assent, and then it is proclaimed (made public in its final form) in the Gazette
of the province, which is the official record of the activities of the Lieutenant Governor, the
government, and the legislature. It is now law. The bill, and therefore the statute, will include
directions about who will have the authority to make regulations - these are specific directions to
implement the different parts of the statute. e.g. The Ontario Liquor Licence Act says a person
under the age of 19 may not be served alcohol in a commercial establishment; the regulations of
that Act say what I.D. can be used as proof of age so that the service staff in a bar know what to
accept and what not to accept as proof of age.
In Parliament:
The process is the same except that, since there are two parts of the legislature, the House of
Commons and the Senate, there are two sets of 3 readings. Bills normally start in the House of
Commons but can be brought in at the Senate, and Royal Assent is given by the Governor
General, the Queen’s representative at the federal level.
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Document Summary

First reading the bill is brought to the legislature by the minister responsible for that kind of subject matter (e. g. the health minister for any health-related matter. ) And placed on the table, with an explanation as to why it is being brought to the legislature. Copies are distributed and everyone can go and look at it. The other political parties will decide whether they will or will not support it. Second reading the legislature will vote on whether it thinks this kind of legislation is a good thing in principle. Usually, as with first reading, since the government party has a majority, it passes this vote. However, where there is a minority government, the government will have to et enough votes from some of the other parties to pass this vote. At this point, the bill goes into a committee which is charged with examining it, clause by clause.

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