Process

It is easy to see that no one person could achieve alone the objectives aimed at. This reform was conceived as a collective effort in reflection. It therefore seemed essential to provide for different stages of participation and consultation to enable professionals and laymen to express their opinions on the various aspects of the reform.

The first stage of consultation consisted of setting up study committees responsible for submitting drafts or reforms in particular areas of the Civil Law. The committee was the key to the reform. Consisting generally of three to seven jurists judges, lawyers, civil servants and professors it was able to count on the constant collaboration of research assistants; it was able to commission special studies, and to consult experts jurists and others and to interview individuals or organizations that might be affected by a particular reform; and finally, it prepared a report comprising a draft reform accompanied by explanatory notes both French and English.

The second stage of consultation involved outside participation. Its main purpose was to submit the committee reports to the free and unrestricted appraisal of interested persons and organizations. Thus, each of the forty-seven reports of the committees of the Office was printed in about 2,000 copies which were distributed to government departments, courts, universities, professional organizations, unions, women's associations, political groups, religious bodies, social agencies, banking institutions, and news agencies, and also to an increasing number of individuals who on all sides showed an interest in the reform of the Code, and finally, to foreign civil and comparative law experts. Each was invited to submit observations and criticisms in writing by a certain date.

Where the subject-matter was appropriate or the nature of the observations warranted it, public study or information sessions were held to enable members of a committee to understand more fully the ideas of the authors of briefs, and even to enable authors of briefs to discuss among themselves the various legislative options in question. This method sometimes produced excellent results because it made it possible to realize that opposing interests are not always irreconcilable, that agreement could often be reached, or that a diversity of opinions did not always result from ill will, but most often from legitimately opposed interests. When these consultations were completed, the committee resumed study of its report in the light of the observations, comments and criticisms, and prepared the final reports which it submitted to the Office.

The third stage of consultation consisted in coordinating the work of the study committees. Obviously, where every Committee, as it had the right to do, freely presented its legislative options, there could result - and this was a good thing - conflicts in legislative policy or terminology. In effect, it would be surprising if, in these days, a hundred and fifty jurists, representing the various sectors of the profession, belonging to different generations and coming from every corner of Quebec, each having his own political, social, religious or moral views, were to arrive at unanimity. Thus steps had to be taken to ensure the coordination of the work. A Coordinating Committee was set up, to which difficult cases of conflict in legislative policy were referred. A Reading Committee was established with responsibility for style and consistency in the vocabulary. Where necessary, final arbitration was brought to bear by the President of the Office.

Thus was conceived and written the Draft Civil Code.