Canada, Senate Debates, “Statute Law Amendment Proposals—Report of Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee Adopted”, 32nd Parl, 1st Sess (4 December 1980)

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Date: 1980-12-04
By: Canada (Parliament)
Citation: Canada, Senate Debates, 32nd Parl, 1st Sess, 1980 at 1374-1375.
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SENATE DEBATES — December 4, 1980

[Page 1374]



The Senate proceeded to consideration of the report of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs on the document entitled: “Proposals to correct certain anomalies, inconsistencies, archaisms or errors and to deal with other matters of a non-controversial and uncomplicated nature in the Revised Statutes of Canada, 1970, and other Acts subsequent to 1970”, which was presented yesterday.

Hon. Richard A. Donahue moved that the report be adopted.

He said: Honourable senators, I am very relieved to have finally picked the appropriate spot in the proceedings of this house when I should speak to this report. I have a few words to say with respect to it, but most honourable senators are more familiar with what goes on in this connection than I am.

We are concerned with, in effect, a number of proposed amendments to a wide variety of statutes which are put forward, not in the form of a bill but in the form of a proposed bill, and which were submitted for consideration to a committee of the other place, and subsequently submitted for Consideration to the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs. They were submitted on the basis that if any one member of either of those committees raised a substantial objection, or any objection that he or she considered substantial, the proposed amendment would accordingly be deleted. If, as and when there are some surviving sections that are approved by both committees, it is my understanding that a bill will be brought forward which will probably rejoice in the name of the Miscellaneous Statute Law Amendment Act, 1980.

Senator Flynn: Or 1981.

Senator Donahoe: It took our committee three or four hours of minute and exacting examination of these provisions to come to the conclusion that we could report this document back and recommend its acceptance by the Senate. We did delete two sections, and there were also two sections deleted by virtue of the action of the committee in the other place. However, there were four sections added dealing with four other acts—The Adjustment of Accounts Act, the Canada

[Page 1375]

Elections Act, the Copyright Act and the Lord’s Day Act. There were amendments to each of those acts which were submitted to us, and which we approve and recommend for acceptance by this house, but which will, in due course, have to be returned for consideration by the committee in the other place, because they have not yet been considered by that committee.

I am sure no one wants me to go into any great detail respecting any of these amendments, either the added ones or those included in the original proposal. However, there is one that interested me, namely, the amendment to the Copyright Act. It is a provision that would make it easier for copyrighted works to be copied for distribution to the blind and the handicapped without interfering with the rights of the copyright holder. It may be Clone with the consent of the copyright holder, but, that consent having been given, the copyright holder does not thereby in any way forfeit his protection against other persons wishing to copy his works, which he would forfeit if the law is not amended as it is proposed in this action.

Honourable senators, those are my comments, and I ask the ate to adopt the report.

Hon. W. M. Benidickson: The honourable senator made reference to the fact that disapproval by a single member of either house of a proposal would be sufficient to have it deleted from the proposals before the two committees. What is the justification for and philosophy behind the idea that one member could prevail in such a situation?

Senator Donahoe: It is a little difficult for me to say what the justification is, because it is reported to me as being a practice that has grown up in this house over some period of time. The purpose of the procedure is to gather together in one place, and to deal with subsequently in one bill, a number of amendments that would otherwise cause a multiplicity of bills to be put forward. The type of amendment that is accepted for inclusion under this procedure bill is one that has the effect of removing an archaism or of clarifying a typographical or other patent error in the statute itself.

It is intended that these should not be ones that effect substantive change in the law. If one member of a committee feels that those who selected the amendment for consideration ore attempting to bootleg in an amendment which, in effect, makes a substantive change, then it is felt this is not a proper kind of amendment to be included, but is rather the type of amendment that should be moved as an amendment on its own. Accordingly, it does not belong here and therefore consideration of its inclusion should be dropped, and those attempting to promote it can proceed in the ordinary way.

Senator Benidickson: I should have either known that or appreciated that that would be the reason.

Senator Flynn: These are non-controversial matters.

Hon. Louis-J. Robichaud: I have heard that question and the answer. As a member of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs I asked the very same question that Senator Benidickson has asked. I asked it in the corridors, and the answer I received was that this legislation would come in the form of a private mcmber’s bill, which requires unanimity. That is why, if any member of either house objects to any portion of the entire bill that will be submitted, the whole thing can fall apart. The fact is, because it is going to be a private member’s bill, that it requires unanimity.

Hon. Royce Frith (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, in speaking in support of Senator Donahoe’s motion, I want, on behalf of members on this side of the house, to thank him and his committee for the careful work they have done. There is, perhaps, an analogy to a private bill, but I think Senator Donahoe’s explanation is the more accurate one. The kind of amendment dealt with here is, for example, whether a comma has been omitted or whether there has been a typographical error—matters that are clearly just housekeeping.

Senator Flynn: Non-controversial matters.

Senator Frith: Exactly. As Senator Flynn points out, even in the title they are called non-controversial. They are pure housekeeping matters. So, if anyone says, “I am sorry, I don’t think that is a housekeeping matter,” the proposal is removed and the committee proceeds with unanimously accepted housekeeping, non-controversial items.

Nonetheless, the document still requires a lot of painstaking work on the part of the committee. Therefore, I do not want this explanation to indicate anything but our gratitude to the committee, under the chairmanship of Senator Donahoe, acting during the absence of Senator Goldenberg, who is a member of the Special Joint Committee on the Constitution, for its swift and efficient treatment of this important, even though non-controversial, document. V

Senator Donahue: I should like to make one observation in response to what the Deputy Leader of the Government has said. In fact, during the consideration of this document, two sections were deleted by each of the two committees, so we did follow that practice in this case. In those instances representation was made that something beyond ordinary housekeeping was implied.

Motion agreed to and report adopted.

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