Media Release

Who Needs a Legislature? "Red Tape" Bill Gives Sweeping Powers to Cabinet with Wholesale By-Pass of the Legislative Process

Sep 29 1998

Toronto. The Canadian Environmental Law Association will be appearing today before the Legislative Committee Hearings into Bill 25, the Red Tape Reduction Act, 1998. CELA lawyers Paul Muldoon and Theresa McClenaghan are scheduled to appear at 5:15 p.m. at Queen's Park in the Main Legislative Building, Committee Room 228. The focus of CELA's comments will be on concerns with Schedule C to the bill, the proposed "Statute and Regulation Revision Act, 1998".

This little-noticed schedule proposes to enact new legislation which gives startling powers to Cabinet to pass amendments to laws and regulations in Ontario without going through the Parliamentary process. "This Bill implies that the Parliamentary Process is viewed as just more "red tape" , commented CELA lawyer, Theresa McClenaghan.

Bill 25 gives Cabinet the power to make substantive amendments to statutes. The proposed process would see the "Chief Legislative Counsel" draft amendments, and Cabinet to put them into legal force just by causing the revised statute to be deposited with the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly. Such amended statutes will be in force as if passed by the Legislature merely upon publication by the Queen's Printer. Even the publication requirement is not specified; merely that it be "published in a printed form". Such amended statutes will be in force without ever having been introduced into the Legislature, without notice to the public or opposition parties, without any opportunity for debate or consideration by the Legislative Assembly.

Similar powers are given to amend regulations; with the possibility that such regulations be passed by Cabinet without the concurrence or even knowledge of the authority normally responsible for that regulation.

"These provisions are startling in their scope and in the wholesale by-passing of the legislative process", said Paul Muldoon, Executive Director of the Canadian Environmental Law Association.

For example, Cabinet could determine that the definition of "hazardous waste" required clarification and thereby unilaterally expand the definition of "hazardous waste" or define what is not "hazardous waste".

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For more information:

Paul Muldoon, Executive Director, 416-960-2284
Theresa McClenaghan, Counsel, 416-960-2284

Full Text of Brief to Standing Committee (was a link)