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Bill C-40

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The Miscellaneous Statute Law Amendment Program was established in 1975. Since then, nine Acts have been passed (1977, 1978, 1981, 1984, 1987, 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1999). The purpose of the Program is to allow minor amendments of a non-controversial nature to be made to a number of federal statutes without having to wait for particular statutes to be opened up for amendments of a more substantial nature. Anyone may suggest amendments for possible inclusion in a set of proposals, but most of the current proposals have come from government departments or agencies.

The Legislation Section of the Department of Justice is responsible for receiving and reviewing proposals. The following criteria are applied to determine whether a suggested amendment may be included in the Proposals tabled in Parliament. The suggested amendment must not

    (a) be controversial;

    (b) involve the spending of public funds;

    (c) prejudicially affect the rights of persons; or

    (d) create a new offence or subject a new class of persons to an existing offence.

The Legislation Section prepares a document entitled ``Proposals for a Miscellaneous Statute Law Amendment Act'', containing only those proposals that, in its view, meet the Program criteria.

This document is tabled in the House of Commons by the Minister of Justice, and referred to the appropriate Standing Committee of the House. Except in 1977, the proposals have also been tabled in the Senate and referred to its Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs.

Consideration of the proposals by these Committees has always been thorough and non-partisan. If either of these Committees considers a proposal to be controversial, that proposal is dropped.

The reports of the Senate Committee have always been adopted by the Senate, but a motion has never been made for concurrence in the reports of the House of Commons.

A Miscellaneous Statute Law Amendment Bill is then prepared, based on the reports of the two Committees and containing only proposals approved by both Committees. Passage of the Bill has always been speedy, given the usual understanding that the Bill will receive three readings in each House without debate.