Public Consultations as a Key to Legislative Change

I was reminded to look at public consultations by Gilbert Van Nes, General Counsel and Settlement Officer for the Environmental Appeals Board in Alberta some time ago when we both had an opportunity to present at a Legal Education Society of Alberta seminar. Alberta has a public consultations portal on the government website, which is a handy, and probably under used, research space. The portal includes completed consultations as well – highly useful.

The Government of Canada also offers a Consulting with Canadians portal.

Is there a public consultations portal on your provincial government website?


  1. The Government of Ontario has its Regulatory Register where it posts proposed regulations. Past proposals can be found as well, but not the results of the consultations. (Two of the ‘past proposals’ for September 2012 end by saying that the submissions made have become part of the public record, but do not say how that record can be found.)

    Ontario has had for many years the < a hre="">Environmental Registry under the Environmental Bill of Rights, as well.
    (I was pleased to find that the Government of Canada site is not actually called ‘consultating …’ but ‘consulting’, as in the rest of the English-speaking world.)

  2. I want to offer two comments about consultation on legislation. First Nations political organizations have produced a definition of consultation because for many years governments would send a low level public servant, or the parliamentary secretary to announce a fait accompli and call it consultation. Their definition requires a person of sufficient standing that he can seriously influence the legislation at issue. Otherwise, why bother.

    Secondly, in many legislatures there can be no amendment that affects the principal of a bill after 2d reading. (The Senate has changed their rules on that but the Commons has not.) I have never yet figured ourhow one determines the principle of an omnibus bill. So testifying after 2d reading is of very limited value and, more to the point, it is not consultation. Likewise, if the minister and his most senior officials have already made up their minds then, as the Assembly of First Nations and others long ago figured out, it ain’t consultation.

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