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Law - Legal Citation Guide

Guide to help with legal citation for the most common situations.

Introduction

This guide will help you with legal citation for the most common types of Canadian Federal and Provincial government documents. There are, however, many different varieties of government publications. In general, provide as much information as possible, to assist the reader in locating the source cited, and be consistent in your citation style.

Parliamentary Publications

Parliamentary documents are published by a legislative body. Examples include Debates, Journals, Sessional Papers, and Minutes of the Proceedings of Committees of Parliament and the Provincial Legislatures.

When citing a parliamentary document, use elements of the following general format, as appropriate, omitting any redundant elements.

General format:

Jurisdiction, Legislative body, Title, Parliament or Legislative Session, volume and/or document number (full date) pinpoint reference (Speaker information) if relevant.

See further explanation below the following examples.  

 

Examples:

Debates

Alberta, Legislative Assembly, Hansard, 28th Leg, 2nd Sess, No 24 (5 May 2014) at 690.

British Columbia, Official Report of Debates of the Legislative Assembly (Hansard), 39th Parl, 1st Sess, Vol 9, No 2 (23 November 2009) at 2660 (Hon K Falcon).

  • Note that since the name of the legislative body is provided in the title of the document, the information is not repeated in the ‘legislative body’ of the citation.

Canada, Parliament, House of Commons Debates, 35th Parl, 2nd Sess, Vol 134, No 151 (8 April 1997).

Canada, Parliament, Debates of the Senate, 39th Parl, 1st Sess, Vol 143, No 91 (1 May 2007) at 2223

Journals

British Columbia, Legislative Assembly, Journals, 37th Parl, 4th Sess, Vol 138 (20 February 2003) at 21.

Canada, Parliament, Journals of the Senate, 36th Parl, 1st Sess, No 62 (14 May 1998). 

Committee Proceedings

Canada, Parliament, House of Commons, Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs, Minutes of Proceedings and Evidence, 35th Parl, 1st Sess, No 6 (13 April 1994) at 8.

Canada, Parliament, Senate, Standing Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce, Proceedings, 36th Parl, 1st Sess, No 7 (9 December 1997).

Canada, Parliament, Special Joint Committee of the Senate and of the House of Commons  on the Constitution of Canada, Minutes of Proceedings and Evidence, 30th Parl, 3rd Sess, No 2 (16 August 1978).

Committee Reports Published as Separate Documents

Canada, Parliament, House of Commons, Special Committee on Indian Self-Government, Indian Self-Government in Canada:  Report of the Special Committee, 32nd Parl, 1st Sess, No 40 (12 October 1983 and 20 October 1983) (Chair:  Keith Penner).  

  • In this example, the report of the legislative committee was published as a separate document and also as issue number 40 of the Minutes of proceedings of the Committee. When citing a separately published report of a Parliamentary Committee, provide the title of the report in italics and, if relevant, include the name of the Chair of the Committee in parentheses, at the end of the citation.

 

Jurisdiction and Legislative Body:

Include the jurisdiction (country, province or municipality) and the legislative body unless this information is provided in the title of the document.

Title:

Cite the title, in italics, as it appears on the title page of the document.

Parliament or Legislative Session:

Use the format - 32nd Parl, 1st Sess.  Do not use superscript. 

Volume and/or Document Number:

Include both a volume and issue number, if available.   Some Parliamentary publications are organized only by volume number; others by issue number.

Date:

Use the format:  dd-month-yyyy (e.g., 21 July 2014).

 

Non-Parliamentary Publications

Non-parliamentary publications are issued by government bodies such as Departments, Ministries, Agencies, Boards, Commissions, Public Inquiries, etc.

When citing a document issued by a non-legislative government body, use elements of the following general form, as appropriate.

 

General format:

Jurisdiction, Name of Issuing Body, Title, Other Relevant Information (place of publication:  publisher, year of publication) pinpoint reference if applicable, omitting any redundant elements.

See further explanation below the following examples.

 

Examples:

British Columbia, Ministry of Finance and Corporate Relations, 1993-1994 Annual Report (Victoria:  Ministry of Finance and Corporate Relations, 1995) at 20.

Canada, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Gathering Strength: Canada’s Aboriginal Action Plan; a Progress Report (Ottawa:  Indian Affairs and Northern Development, 2000).

Canada, Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, Renewal:  A Twenty-Year Commitment, vol 5 (Ottawa: Canada Communication Group, 1996).

Canada, Task Force on Canadian Unity, A Time to Speak:  The Views of the Public (Ottawa:  Minister of Supply and Services, 1979).

Canadian Advisory Council on the Status of Women, Women and Poverty (Ottawa:  The Council, 1992).

  • Note that the jurisdiction ‘Canada’ is not required, as it is part of the issuing body’s name.

 

Issuing Body:

Include the name of the issuing body (and any branches, divisions or subdivisions of the body noted on the title page, in descending hierarchical order), unless this information is provided in the title of the publication.

Title:

Cite the title, in italics, as it appears on the title page of the document

Other Relevant Information:

After the title of the document, include other relevant information that may assist the reader in locating the source cited. Examples include: the name of an individual or corporate author, if they differ from the issuing body; a specific volume of a multi-volume report; a report number; a government catalogue number, etc.

Examples:

Canada, Royal Commission on Corporate Concentration, Notes on the Economies of Large Firm Size, by DG McFetridge and LJ Weatherley, Study No 20, March 1977 (Ottawa:  Supply and Services Canada, 1977).

Note that the names of the two personal authors who prepared a background study paper for the Royal Commission are included in the citation, as well as the study paper number.

Canada, Commission of Inquiry into Certain Events at the Prison for Women in Kingston, Report, Catalogue No JS42-73/1996E, Commissioner:  The Honourable Louise Arbour (Ottawa:  Public Works and Government Services Canada, 1996). 

The Government of Canada catalogue number and the name of the commissioner chairing the inquiry are included in the citation, to assist the reader in locating the source cited.

Electronic Sources

Many government documents are published online. Electronic sources are transient in nature and so they should be cited with caution, and only if a paper source is not available.

When citing an electronic source, follow the same general format used to cite a print government document and add:  <url> accessed dd-month-yyyy.

 

Examples:

British Columbia, Ministry of Children and Family Development, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder:  Building on Strengths, A Provincial Plan for British Columbia 2008-2018 (Victoria:  Ministry of Children and Family Development, 2008) <http://www.mcf.gov.bc.ca/fasd/pdf/FASD_TenYearPlan_WEB.pdf> accessed 18 July 2014.

Ontario Human Rights Commission, Reviewing Ontario’s Human Rights System:  Discussion Paper (Toronto:  Ontario Human Rights Commission, 2005) <http://www.ohrc.on.ca/en/discussion-paper-reviewing-ontarios-human-rights-system> accessed 18 July 2014.

Statistics Canada Publications

Statistics Canada publishes a variety of materials including monographs, census products, surveys, data analysis, technical papers and journal articles. When citing a Statistics Canada publication that is a book, book chapter or journal article, follow the general format and examples provided in the relevant section of this Legal Citation Guide.

Example:

Hope Hutchins, “Police Resources in Canada, 2013” (2014) 34:1 Juristat 1-36 <http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/85-002-x/2014001/article/11914-eng.htm> accessed 21 July 2014.

This is an article published in the Statistics Canada periodical, Juristat.

 

General Format:

For other Statistics Canada publications, include elements of the following general format that is used when citing non-parliamentary government publications:

Jurisdiction, Name of Issuing Body, Title, Other Relevant Information (place of publication:  publisher, year of publication) pinpoint reference, if applicable.

 

Examples:

Statistics Canada, Aboriginal Peoples in Canada in 2006:  Inuit, Metis and First Nations, 2006 Census Catalogue No 97-558-XIE (Ottawa:  Statistics Canada, 2008) <http://www12.statcan/english/census06/analysis/aboriginal/pdf/97-558-XIE2006001.pdf> accessed 21 July 2014.

Statistics Canada, Canada's Ethnocultural Portrait: The Changing Mosaic, 2001 Census Analysis Series, Catalogue No 96F0030XIE2001008 (Ottawa: Statistics Canada, 2003) <http://www12.statcan.ca/english/census01/products/analytic/companion/etoimm/pdf/96F0030XIE2001008.pdf> accessed 21 July 2014.

Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Gender Differences in Police-reported Violent Crime in Canada, 2008 by Roxan Vaillancourt, Catalogue No 85F0033M, No 24 (Ottawa:  Statistics Canada, 2010) <http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/85f0033m/85f0033m2010024-eng.pdf> accessed 21 July 2014.

 

If you need additional guidance, you may wish to consult How to Cite Statistics Canada Products, published by Statistics Canada <http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/12-591-x/12-591-x2009001-eng.htm>.