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Legal Research

Primary Sources

CANADIAN PRIMARY legal resources are legislation (statutes and regulations) and case law. Only primary sources have the force of law.

CANADIAN Statutues and Regulations

Legislation - Statutes

  • statutes are the LAWS or acts that express the will of the Canadian parliament or a provincial legislature.
  • they are introduced as a BILL.
  • when a Bill is passed; it is referred to as an ACT or a STATUTE and published in an official government publication.   

Federal statutes are available on the Department of Justice website and Ontario statutes are available on the E-laws website.

Legislation - Regulations

  • regulations are made under a specific ACT.
  • are subordinate or delegated legislation which are drafted by government officials.
  • regulations are published in an official government publication. ie. "Gazette".

Canadian (Federal) regulations are available on the Department of Justice website and Ontario Regulations are available on the E-laws website.


  • court decisions (case law) lay down a rule of law and are authoritative and must be followed by other judges.
  • court decisions derive authority from the principle of stare decisis. 

      Stare Decisis:

  • Is the principle by which a precedent or decision of one court binds courts lower in the judicial hierarchy.
  • A decision of the Supreme Court of Canada is binding on all Canadian Courts, and the Supreme Court is bound by its own previous decisions.

The following databases include Canadian Case Law: