Making a Law - Step by Step

Laws are the most important tools for governing a country. But making a law is hard work.

It all starts with a bill, which is a proposed law. New bills are usually introduced by a member of the government. Once a new bill is introduced, it goes through a series of steps:

Step 1 – First Reading
The bill is printed and read for the first time in the House of Commons.
Image of the House of Commons

Step 2 – Second Reading
The bill is read a second time and members debate the idea behind it.

Step 3 – Committee Stage
Committee members study the bill very closely.

Step 4 – Report Stage
The committee reports back to the House with advice about the bill. Changes are considered and voted on.

Image of the House of Commons. Credit: Library of Parliament/ Roy Grogan

Step 5 – Third Reading
Members debate and vote on the bill.

Step 6 – Senate
The bill follows steps 1 through 5 in the Senate, where it must also be approved.
Image of the Senate

Step 7 – Royal Assent
Once both the Senate and the House of Commons have voted yes on the bill, it is given to the governor general for final approval. Once the governor general gives royal assent, the bill officially becomes a law!

This article originally appeared in Kayak #33 Vol. 3 in 2010.

Image of the Senate. Credit: Library of Parliament/ Marc Fowler