The process for creating federal law in Canada is quite different from that in the United States. However, the information provided by the Parliament of Canada gives a comprehensive overview of how bills are introduced and ultimately become law in Canada.
The Canadian lawmaking process has three distinct stages:
- the Cabinet stage;
- the parliamentary stage; and
- the coming into force stage.
The following is an extremely brief and simplified overview of the three-stage process. For a more detailed description, visit the Library of Parliament.
During the first stage, the Cabinet proposes a bill or regulation. Each policy proposal is sponsored by a particular department. The bill is considered by a Cabinet committee and the full Cabinet must ratify the committee's report before the bill moves to the Parliament.
In the second stage, the Parliament considers the bill. It must pass through both the House of Commons and the Senate. The House of Commons is an elected body while the Senate is appointed. The bill goes through committees on each side. Once the bill is approved, in the same form, by both bodies, it becomes an Act (after Royal Assent) and moves to stage three.
Stage three is when the Act comes into force as a law. For some Acts, this happens immediately. Others, however, have a delay written into the legislative language and do not come into effect until such a date is reached. Others still may require an order issued by an executive. The Act is only an enforceable law once it completes this stage.
The Parliament's website also provides access to current schedules for all committees as well as access to LEGISinfo, where you can search for specific bills of interest.