Canadian Guide to Uniform Legal Citation

edited January 15, 2020
Hello all,

I have been working on an update to the McGill Guide Zotero file.

My new version is posted here:

Four major changes from the repository version which is posted here:

1) Added disambiguation of sources:
1. Chalifour, “Making Federalism Work for Climate Change”, supra note 4.
2. Chalifour, “Canadian Climate Federalism”, supra note 5.
3. Chalifour, “Jurisdictional Wrangling”, supra note 6.

2) Fixed paragraph pinpoints to match McGill Guide

4. Ontario Hydro v Ontario (Labour Relations Board), 3 SCR 327 (C) [Ontario Hydro] at
para 17.

3) Fixed book section so that it doesn't shorten the book title

5. Erin L Nelson, “Gestational Surrogacy in Canada” in E Scott Sills, ed, Handbook of
Gestational Surrogacy, 1st ed (Cambridge University Press, 2016) 123.

4) Added a default to case short forms inclusion at first mention:
6. Ontario Hydro v Ontario (Labour Relations Board), 3 SCR 327 (C) [Ontario Hydro]

There are a few remaining bugs to fix:

1) I'd like it to only include the short form where there is a subsequent mention or somehow as an option only.

2) Disambiguation only works with 3 or more mentions from the same author, but it should work with only 2.

Thanks for any input and testing you can provide.

  • Cool! See once you're ready to submit.

    Of you bug fixes, 1) isn't possible in CSL (but I agree adding case short form on first mention in the style is the right approach) and 2) shouldn't be happening -- are you sure about that? If so, can you provide steps to reproduce?
  • Thanks. I figured that #1 wasn't possible, but I still wish that it were.

    For #2, Without images in the forum, it's harder to do a repro example, but I'll work one up and post on Stackoverflow.

    Basically, here's what I get in my test doc for three sources, all available on ssrn. At first mention, they look like this:

    1 Nathalie J Chalifour, “Making Federalism Work for Climate Change: Canada’s Division of Powers Over Carbon Taxes” (2008) 22:2 Natl J Const Law 119.
    2 Nathalie J Chalifour, “Canadian Climate Federalism: Parliament’s Ample Constitutional Authority to Legislate GHG Emissions through Regulations, a National Cap and Trade Program, or a National Carbon Tax” (2016) 36 Natl J Const Law 331.
    3 Nathalie J Chalifour, “Jurisdictional Wrangling over Climate Policy in the Canadian Federation: Key Issues in the Provincial Constitutional Challenges to Parliament’s Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act” (2019) 50:2 Ott Law Rev 197.

    So, same author, different titles and years.

    If I add later mentions to any one of them, they appear as follows, as they should:
    4 Chalifour, “Making Federalism Work for Climate Change”, supra note 1.

    But, in the same document, if I simply delete the reference to Chalifour's 2019 paper, it changes the behaviour of the second reference to her 2008 paper which now appears as:

    4 Chalifour, supra note 1.

    The reference to Chalifour remains ambiguous, since there remain references to two Chalifour papers in the text.

    I've replicated for other authors, record types, etc.

    Similarly, if I cite twice to two sources from the same author, this is where it's more an an issue. So, again, if I cite to both Chalifour (2008) and Chalifour (2016) twice, at second mention the footnotes appear as:

    4 Chalifour, supra note 1.
    5 Chalifour, supra note 2.

    Now, if I add a single reference to the third Chalifour paper, without changing anything else, these appear as follows:

    4 Chalifour, “Making Federalism Work for Climate Change”, supra note 1.
    5 Chalifour, “Canadian Climate Federalism”, supra note 2.
    6 Nathalie J Chalifour, “Jurisdictional Wrangling over Climate Policy in the Canadian Federation: Key Issues in the Provincial Constitutional Challenges to Parliament’s Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act” (2019) 50:2 Ott Law Rev 197.

    Thanks for any help you can provide.


  • The bug here is actually the behavior for 3, not for 2. The supra reference, in CSL's view, makes the citation unambiguous, so disambiguate evaluates to false.

    Why the third reference makes a difference is a puzzle.
  • I agree, in part. If you're using the last name in a supra, it should be an unambiguous reference, otherwise it's not helpful. I expect this is, as you say, a CSL issue not a Zotero issue per se. Still, here's why I think it's wrong:

    If we're happy with the supra as a disambiguation, you don't need any kind of extra note. The purpose, I think, of the extra note is that it keeps readers from having to turn the page back to the original note to know what you're talking about. With a single source, the author name note tells you what you need to know. However, if that's the standard, having two notes like this is ambiguous:

    Chalifour, supra note 4.
    Chalifour, supra note 5.

    Or, at a minimum, it's only a bit less ambiguous than:

    supra note 4.
    supra note 5.

    You still need to turn back to notes 4 and 5 to know what the author is referring to in the subsequent mention.

    The fact that it seems to trigger the disambiguation at 3 sources from the same author, but not at 2, suggests that it would be a really simple fix to trigger at 2.

    I haven't played with the other types of disambiguation enough to know whether this is consistent across all types, or only comes in when you don't use names or years.

    I don't know enough CSL to dig deeper, unfortunately, but happy to help where I can.

  • I wasn't arguing what's better for a citation style, but describing how CSL should behave given its specification, so no, this isn't a simple fix.
  • Fair enough. I've got to clean up a couple of other comments/bugs in the style file.

    As it stands, I've got a couple of workarounds, but they're messy (change the last name to also include the short title and then manually modify the first mention footnote right before submission) to get the two-source references to match the McGill style.
  • I have no idea whether this update is the reason, but the McGill Guide is suddenly all off for me now, compared to how it was in February. That is, it is much worse, and has several mistakes. For example, journal articles now have a page range, which is incorrect. UN declarations etc have a very strange (and inadequate) format in the bibliography. Can this please be reversed?
  • @leachandrew -- changing page-first to page for journal articles does indeed seem clearly incorrect.

    For UN declarations this is a bit trickier -- it's not like Zotero has a clear item type for those. How do you have them categorized?
  • edited April 1, 2020
    Well, it worked much better a month ago, and after the update things are all wrong. I am not saying that it was completely correct last time, but at least book titles were italicized, and there were no page ranges for journal articles. I know the UN declarations etc are complicated, but compared to a month ago, now the bibliography is leaving most of the citation out for each UN entry (while the complete info was in the previous version). I know this because I submitted an earlier version of the same document early February, and comparing the version I am working on now, things are completely different (to the negative).
  • We had several reports prior to the update that described the existing version as completely unusable, so we're not simply going to revert, but absolutely we'll fix errors, but we need those clearly described:
    - page ranges are clearly wrong and an easy fix
    - italics for books look right for me, so you'd need to double-check that; does it affect all books? Do you get any italics?
    - UN declarations we'd need more details on the item type and field you're using

    If you're in a rush, we can tell you how to install the old version
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