Department of Justice

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Glossary of Terms - Legislation

The laws of Canada come from many different sources. One of these sources is legislation.

Legislation: A collection of written principles that guide behaviour in society. There are two main types of legislation: primary and subordinate.

Bill: When Parliament or a provincial legislature wishes to enact a law, it goes through a process of drafting legislation. This draft, which lays out what the law should say, is known as a bill. After the bill has been discussed, revised, and passed by Parliament or the legislature, it officially becomes a Statute.

Statutes or Acts: Are considered primary sources. Within the Statute, there is often a statement which allows an individual or body to become responsible for the piece of legislation. The individual or body has the power to create subordinate legislation to deal with matters arising out of the Statute. One type of subordinate legislation is the regulation.

Regulations: Contain details that enable the Statute to operate as Parliament or as the legislature intend.

Parliament and the provincial and territorial legislatures have different responsibilities in making legislation. Sections 91 and 92 of the Constitution Act, 1982 (which incorporates the British North America Act of 1867) outline the level of government responsible for different matters.

For example, the Parliament of Canada has the power to make criminal law, but each provincial legislature has the power to make its own laws regarding the establishment and management of criminal courts within the province.

Please note: Electronic versions of legislation found on this web site have no official sanction. Please contact Queen's Printer in Whitehorse for official versions of Yukon legislation.