Introducing a Private Bill
A private bill is proposed legislation that affects a small segment of the public. It usually aims to obtain exclusive or special rights or privileges for an individual or a legal person.
The promoter of a private bill is the person who wishes to have it passed by the National Assembly. Anyone may request the passage of a private bill, including
- executors (or "liquidators", as they are called in the Civil Code)
- property owners
- groups with a common interest
- municipal corporations
- financial institutions
- educational or religious institutions
- business companies
Purpose of a Private Bill
There are no specific rules as to the purpose or intent of a private bill. Generally speaking, a private bill seeks special rights or privileges for serious reasons. A private bill may, for example:
- amend, revise or repeal a municipal charter
- ratify municipal by-laws or resolutions
- amend the charter of a legal person
- remedy defects in titles to immoveable property
- confer powers not otherwise provided for in Québec’s laws
A private bill may not:
- overlap existing public legislation
- be contrary to public order or morality
People wishing to have a private bill passed by the National Assembly usually call on a legal adviser to act as their attorney. To draft the private bill, the legal adviser looks for models and precedents in existing legislation.
Fees involved in passing a private bill and having the mandatory notices published are payable by the promoter.
Stages of the Legislative Process
A private bill is introduced in the National Assembly by a Member of the National Assembly (MNA). The MNA does not endorse its content and may not approve its provisions. By custom, the MNA is not a Cabinet minister.
- The promoter of a private bill finds an MNA who agrees to present it, usually the MNA for the promoter’s electoral division. See MNAs in office.
- The promoter publishes a notice in the newspapers and in the Gazette officielle du Québec to let people know that the bill will be introduced in the National Assembly.
- The promoter gives the MNA the documents the Assembly will need in order to consider the private bill, namely:
- Two copies of the text of the bill.
- Proof that the notice has been published in the newspapers and in the Gazette officielle du Québec.
- Any documents cited in the bill.
- If the promoter is a municipality or business company, a certified true copy of the resolution granting it authorization to have the bill introduced in the National Assembly.
- Any other relevant document.
- The MNA sends the bill and the related documents to the National Assembly’s Law Clerk and confirms in writing that he or she has agreed to introduce it.
- The Law Clerk acknowledges receipt of the bill, which serves as proof of the date on which the bill was filed.
- The General Directorate for Legal and Parliamentary Affairs verifies the form and content of the bill, the date on which it was filed and the documents enclosed with it. It also makes sure that the notices were published as required by law.
- The General Directorate sends the bill to the appropriate government department to inform the minister concerned and obtain the opinion of the department’s legal affairs service. The department or the Assembly may suggest changes to the form or content of the bill. The promoter of the bill is free to accept or refuse these changes.
- The General Directorate sends the Committees Secretariat the information it needs to invite persons interested in the detailed consideration of the bill to be heard in committee.
- The National Assembly translates the bill and prints the French and English versions.
- The MNA who agreed to introduce the bill has it entered on the Order Paper and Notices of the Assembly.
- The bill goes through the stages in the consideration of a private bill, namely, introduction, clause-by-clause consideration, passage in principle and passage. The promoter is directly involved only at the clause-by-clause committee consideration stage.
- Once the bill is passed, it is assented to by the Lieutenant-Governor and published in the Gazette officielle du Québec at the promoter’s expense.
To be passed during the spring sessional period, the bill and any related documents must be filed with the Law Clerk before the 1st Tuesday in February*.
*On March 31, 2016, when the National Assembly’s 2016-2017 sitting calendar was tabled, the Members consented to derogating from Standing Order 19 of the Standing Orders of the National Assembly to allow the spring 2017 sessional period to begin on the 1st Tuesday in February (February 7, 2017). Private bills must thus be filed before that date in order to be passed during the spring 2017 sessional period.
To be passed during the fall sitting period, which opens on the 3rd Tuesday in September and lasts 12 weeks, a private bill must be filed with the Law Clerk not later than the 3rd Tuesday in September.
The promoter must let the public know that a private bill is to be introduced by publishing a notice in the newspapers and in the Gazette officielle du Québec. This is done in the interests of people who may be affected by the private bill.
The notice published in the newspapers and in the Gazette officielle du Québec must
- have the following heading: “Notice of Introduction of a Private Bill”
- state that the promoter will petition the National Assembly for the introduction of a private bill
- briefly explain the nature and purpose of the bill
- specify that anyone having reasons to speak to the bill must inform the Law Clerk of the National Assembly
- be signed by the promoter or the promoter’s attorney
The notice must be published
- once in the Gazette officielle du Québec
- once a week over 4 consecutive weeks
- in a French-language daily or weekly in the promoter’s judicial district or, in some cases, in the district where the property affected by the bill is located
- in a French-language newspaper in the closest judicial district, if there is no French-language newspaper in the district concerned
A copy of the first notice published in the newspaper must be enclosed with the bill when it is filed with the Law Clerk. Copies of the three other notices must be sent to the General Directorate for Legal and Parliamentary Affairs as they are published.
All private bills go through clause-by-clause consideration in committee. The following people take part in the committee sitting:
- the minister concerned
- the MNA who introduced the bill
- the promoter or the promoter’s attorney
- the people who applied to be heard during committee consideration of the bill
- the Assembly’s Law Clerk
For the list of parliamentary committees
For more about
Once the clause-by-clause consideration of the bill is finished, the parliamentary committee reports to the National Assembly, which passes or rejects the bill during one of its sittings.
Under the Act respecting the National Assembly, the promoter of a private bill must pay
- the cost of printing the bill as introduced and, if applicable, as assented to, plus 15%
- $220 per page and $110 per half-page or less, not counting the title page, for translation and proofreading
- $100 per page (French version) for publication of the assented French and English versions of the bill in the annual Lois du Québec and Statutes of Québec
Other fees are payable to Québec’s official printer, the Éditeur officiel du Québec, for publication of the assented version of the bill in the Gazette officielle du Québec.
For More Information
Contact the National Assembly’s General Directorate for Legal and Parliamentary Affairs:
- Québec City area: 418-528-0020
- Fax: 418-528-0993
- Email: email@example.com
- Mailing address:
Direction générale des affaires juridiques et parlementaires
Édifice Pamphile-Le May
1035, rue des Parlementaires
3e étage, bureau 3.55
Québec (Québec) G1A 1A3