Georgetown Law
Georgetown Law Library

Canadian Legal Research

This guide details researching Canadian law at the federal and provincial level.

Federal Statutes

Canadian federal statutes are available in print on the fourth floor of the Wolff Library.  The Department of Justice and the Canadian Legal Information Institute provide free online access to federal statutes.  Lexis, Westlaw, and other subscription research platforms also provide electronic access.  The Canadian Parliament's website provides bill tracking information from 2001-present.  For background information about Canadian legislation, consult the following secondary sources: 

Free Electronic Sources

  • Justice Laws Website -- Department of Justice
    The website of Canada's Department of Justice provides free online access to consolidated federal statutes and federal session laws.  Content retrieved from this website constitutes the official, authoritative version of a statute or session law and thus may be used for evidentiary purposes.  Content includes the following:
    • Consolidated Acts 
      This collection of statutes currently in force incorporates subsequent amendments to the original legislation. 
      • Browse alphabetically by popular name (default setting) or search by keyword using the Basic Search template or the Advanced Search template. 
      • By default, the current (consolidated) version of each statute is displayed.  To view prior versions, that were in effect at a specified point in time, click on the appropriate link at the top of the screen. 
      • All content may be downloaded in PDF format.
    • Annual Statutes (Session Laws)
      Each annual statutory compilation includes all public general acts enacted by the Parliament of Canada during a specified calendar year in chronological order.  Coverage is from 2001-present.  Annual statutes appear as they were originally enacted without any subsequent amendments.
  • Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII)
    CanLII also provides free online access to federal consolidated statutes and federal session laws.  All content is drawn from the Justice Laws Website (see above) and is updated weekly.
  • LEGISinfo -- Parliament of Canada
    This legislative database provides detailed information about all bills considered by each chamber of Parliament from 2001-present.  In addition to the title and the bill number, you will find information about the bill's sponsors, an overview of its progress and current status, links to speeches delivered during parliamentary debates, any recorded votes taken on the bill, as well as links to the full text of each published version of the bill.
    • Legislation at a Glance provides an overview of the status of all bills considered by the House of Commons and the Senate during the current legislative session.  To view information about bills considered during prior legislative sessions, click on the appropriate link on the right side of the page.
    • Bills Before Committee provides the status of bills pending during the current legislative session.
    • Search Tools.  To search by title or bill number, use the Basic Search tool displayed on the left side of the LEGISinfo homepage.  To search within the full text of the bill and to limit searches by bill type, legislative chamber, sponsor, date or legislative session, use the Advanced Search template.

Subscription Legal Research Platforms

  • Lexis
    Click on "Canada Legislation and Regulations."  On the following webpage select "Consolidated Statutes of Canada" to search federal statutes or select "Consolidated Regulations of Canada" to search federal regulations.  To search both statutes and regulations, select "Canada Federal Legislation."
  • Westlaw (Canada Federal Legislation)
    This Westlaw database includes federal statutes, federal regulations, and federal rules in both English and French.  You may select the desired content type and language prior to searching or search across all content.

Print Sources

  • Acts of the Parliament of Canada (updated regularly) INTL KE89 1951
    This is the official print version with side-by-side text of French and English.
  • Revised Statutes of Canada INTL KE89 1985
    Note that this official print edition is not updated; updating is easiest with electronic sources. You can also update using the print source listed below.
  • Canada Statutes Citator : R.S.C. 1985 (updated regularly) INTL KE106 .C35 1989
    In addition to updating statutes, you can track legislation and locate current and/or summaries of yet to be published cases related to federal legislation.
  • Canada Gazette, Part III INTL Media KE116 1867 Micro
    Statutes are initially published in Part III before appearing in the annual statutes volumes.
  • Table of Public Statutes ; Table of Acts and Responsible Ministers (updated regularly) (INTL KE106.5 .T33
    This is the history of all the amending/enacting legislation after an act became law, plus which minister is either responsible for the administration of the act and/or who introduced the act. Available online, please note you cannot directly click through to the materials listed, rather this best resource for a list what has happened to an act once it became law.