Rule by Regulation: Revitalizing Parliament's Supervisory Role in the Making of Subordinate Legislation
(2016), 39(1) Canadian Parliamentary Review 29
5 Pages Posted: 10 Jul 2019 Last revised: 8 Mar 2020
Date Written: 2016
Regulations, also known as secondary or subordinate legislation, are made by ministers or specialist bodies under legislative powers delegated to them by Acts of Parliament. Like primary legislation, regulations have the full force of law. Historically, the power to make regulations was delegated to the Governor in Council (effectively the federal cabinet) where particulars needed to be filled in to complete a legislative package. The main benefit was that regulations could be made and updated quickly by the executive through an Order in Council as opposed to the more cumbersome parliamentary process. Historically, many delegated powers were defined in relation to certain details left out of a statute (though the devil is known to reside in legal details). For example, the fee charged for filing an application for a patent is not included in the Patent Act but rather prescribed by regulation. As a matter of law, regulations must remain strictly inside the limits of the grant of authority provided by the enabling legislation. Given that they work to supplement primary legislation, regulations are essential to knowing the current state of the law.
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