Policies and Directives

Policy for Applying the Civil Code of Quebec to Federal Government Activities

In 1990, the Quebec National Assembly adopted the Civil Code of Québec, which came into force in 1994. Accordingly, the Department of Justice Canada adopted the Policy for Applying the Civil Code of Quebec to Federal Government Activities in 1993. The purpose of the Policy was to ensure that federal law would take into account the changes introduced by the new Civil Code and the specificity of Quebec's civil law and its institutions.

Policy on Legislative Bijuralism

Adopted by the Department of Justice in 1995, the Policy on Legislative Bijuralism’s main objective is to formally recognize the obligation to make federal legislative texts accessible to the various legal audiences of federal law in Canada. Notably, the Policy states the following:

The Department of Justice:

a) formally recognizes that it is imperative that the four Canadian legal audiences (Francophone civil law lawyers, Francophone common law lawyers, Anglophone civil law lawyers and Anglophone common law lawyers) may, on the one hand, read federal statutes and regulations in the official language of their choice and, on the other, be able to find in them terminology and wording that are respectful of the concepts, notions and institutions proper to the legal system (civil law or common law) of their province or territory;

[…]

Cabinet Directive on Law-Making

The Cabinet Directive on Law-Making sets out the expectations and objectives relating to the law-making activities of the government and defines the principles and framework governing such activities. In particular, the Directive requires legislative bijuralism as an obligatory drafting norm for all federal legislative texts in both language versions. It states, among other things, the following:

The Constitution Act, 1867 requires federal laws to be enacted in both official languages and makes both versions equally authentic. It is therefore of primary importance that bills and regulations be prepared in both official languages. …

It is equally important that bills and regulations respect both the common law and civil law legal systems since both systems operate in Canada and federal laws apply throughout the country. When concepts pertaining to these legal systems are used, they must be expressed in both languages and in ways that fit into both systems.

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