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Report No. 60

12.11. Position in Canada, as to publication.-

In Canada, until the passing of the Regulations Act, 1947, there was no legislative provision requiring systematic publication of delegated legislation. It was only after the furore which the notorious Ottawa Espionage Investigation of 1946 created, that the question of systematic publication of rules came to be considered seriously. A Royal Commission was appointed to go into the matter, and ultimately the Statutory Orders and Regulations Order, 1947, was passed. Most of the provisions of this Order were enacted in the Regulations Act of 1947.

This Act applies only to instruments made in the exercise of the legislative power or to regulations for the contravention of which a penalty of fine or imprisonment is prescribed by or under an Act of Parliament. Certain exceptions are made even to this rule, but generally speaking, the Act covers all instruments likely to prejudice the rights of individuals and personal freedom. The Act provides for a system of revision, recording, numbering and publication of the various regulations. It is not necessary to go into details of the Act.

A significant provision of the Act1 is to the effect that no person shall be convicted for an offence consisting of a contravention of any regulation that was not published in the Gazette of Canada except where the regulation was one which was exempted from the operation of the rule as to publication or where it is proved that on the date of the alleged contravention reasonable steps had been taken for the purpose of bringing the purport of the regulation to the notice of the public or the person charged. This provision is similar to that embodied in section 3 of the (English) Statutory Instruments Act2 of 1946. Thus, in Canada, as in England, publication is not a condition precedent to the coming into force of subordinate legislation, but non-publication, is a defence.

1. Section 6.3 (Canada) Regulations Act, 1947.

2. Para. 12.8, supra.

General Clauses Act, 1897 Back

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