How a Bill Becomes a Law

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  1. 1st reading - Bill is received, printed and circulated. Often referred to as "tabling" the bill.
  2. 2nd reading - Debate on the principle of the bill.
  3. Study - Bill is sent to a committee for study. Often witnesses will speak on the merits of the bill, making committee proceedings useful if you are trying to determine the legislative intent of a bill.
  4. Report stage - Committee reports back to the House or Senate. Any motions to amend the bill are now debated.
  5. 3rd reading - Bill, as amended, is re-printed and circulated. There is no debate at this stage; the bill is put to a vote. 
  6. FEDERAL ONLY - The approved bill is sent to the other house (either the House of Commons or the Senate, depending on where the bill originated) where steps 1 through 5 are repeated.
  7. Royal assent - Once the bill passes its final 3rd reading, it is sent to the Governor-General (federal) or Lieutenant-Governor (provincial) for final approval.
  8. Proclamation date - Bill comes into force (that is, becomes an official law). Sometimes this is the same date as the Royal assent, and sometimes it is a different date entirely which is usually mentioned in the law itself.

 

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Content last updated: November 11, 2019