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Second Reading of Bill C-21: What Does That Mean?

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Second Reading of Bill C-21[i], “An Act to amend certain Acts and to make certain consequential amendments (firearms)”, continued on April 23, 2021, following Minister Bill Blair’s speech and Conservative MP Shannon Stubbs’ rebuttal on February 26th.

But what exactly does ‘Second Reading’ mean?

The purpose of Second Reading is to allow the bill’s sponsor to speak to the merits of the bill, followed by the opinions of critics from one or more opposition parties.

It’s the third of nine steps every bill must go through to become law.

Once the bill is adopted at second reading, it is referred to committee for further study and possible amendments.


A Legislative Primer

A bill can become law only once the same text has been approved by both Houses of Parliament and has received royal assent.[ii]

Notice and placement on the Order Paper

The introduction of any public bill requires 48 hours’ written notice. The day after it appears on the Notice Paper, the title of the bill will appear in the Order Paper and it is ready for introduction in the House.

Introduction and first reading

Bills are introduced during Routine Proceedings. If it is a private member’s bill, the sponsor may provide a brief explanation.

Second reading and referral to a committee

The second reading stage of the legislative process provides an opportunity to participate in debate on the general scope and principle of the bill. Once the bill is adopted at second reading, it is referred to committee for further scrutiny.

Consideration in committee

The role of the committee is to review the text of the bill and to approve or modify it. Committees may invite witnesses to appear, present their views and answer questions.

Afterwards, the committee proceeds to clause-by-clause consideration of the bill, at which point members may propose amendments.

Once all the parts of the bill have been considered and adopted with or without amendments, the committee votes on the bill as a whole and the Chair reports the bill to the House.

Report stage

Report stage allows members to propose motions to amend the text of the bill. Debate at report stage occurs only when amendments are proposed. The debate focuses on these amendments rather than on the bill as a whole. The Speaker selects and groups amendments for debate, ensuring that report stage is not a repetition of the consideration in committee.

Third reading and adoption

Debate at third reading focuses on the final form of the bill. Once the motion for third reading has been adopted, the bill is sent to the Senate.

Consideration and passage by the Senate

The Senate follows a legislative process very similar to the one in the House of Commons. The Senate may also suggest amendments to the bill. If so, both Houses must agree on the same version of the bill before it can receive royal assent.

In cases where the Senate adopts a bill without amendment, a message is sent to the House of Commons and the bill receives royal assent thereafter.

Royal Assent

Approval by the Governor General or another designated representative of the Crown is required for a bill to become law once it has been passed by both Houses in identical form.

Coming into force

Once a bill has been granted royal assent it becomes law and comes into force on that day, unless the act provides otherwise. All or part of the act may come into force on a day identified in the act, or on a day to be fixed by an order of the Governor in Council.

We hope this brief overview of the legislative process is helpful.


In Closing

Bill C-21 is Minister Bill Blair’s attempt to codify his Firearms Confiscation Compensation Scheme into law – except it does no such thing.

Notably, neither does the Liberal government’s first budget in over two years, a failure which lends credence to CSSA’s belief that Bill Blair has no intention of offering compensation to firearm owners.






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