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Legal research and writing

Federal legislation

This page gives information about finding and using federal statutes and regulations.

About federal legislation

Federal statutes cover matters that fall under the federal government's s. 91 constitutional jurisdiction.

Best Guide to Canadian Legal Research contains a useful summary of the federal statute process.

Federal regulations and other subordinate legislation, like orders and directives, are created at the ministerial level, not by Parliament.

Best Guide summarizes how federal regulations are created.

Progress of bills and committee stages (see Figure 16.1) from House of Commons Practice and Procedure

Finding federal legislation

Often you will know the name of the statute you are looking for. In other situations you need to find out if there is an applicable statute and then discover its name. Once you find the statute, you will also need to determine whether any regulations apply to the issue you're researching.

Resources you will find helpful include

Note that much of the content in the Federal Department of Justice website are now considered "official" sources of statutes and regulations for the purpose of filing in court documents.

Updating federal legislation

Statutes and regulations change by amendment, so it is important to know the applicable time for which you need the legislation. Often you will want the current version. Other times you'll want legislation as it read at a particular time. For both situations, you can use tools to help you search for amendments and update legislation.

When you have the statute or regulation you need, you can accurately note it up for judicial consideration in case law.

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