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Canadian Parliamentary Debates (Hansard)

The Debates (also known as Hansard) provide a substantially verbatim account of what is said in Parliament. They have been officially recorded since the 1870s. Previously, non-verbatim speeches were included in newspaper accounts of parliamentary proceedings.

Post-Confederation

House of Commons

Official debates contain all Members' speeches nearly verbatim. Hansard reporters do make slight changes, but only to correct poor or confusing grammar and syntax. Members can also request minor corrections so long as they do not affect the substance or meaning of what was said.

Prior to 1875, debates were published in newspapers. Journalists covering the House would normally condense speeches to no more than a third of their original length for publication. In the 1960s, the Library of Parliament took upon a yet uncompleted project to reconstruct pre-1875 debates, primarily from the Ottawa Times and the Toronto Globe.

  • 1873-1874

    The debates for these years are accessible through a microfilm copy of the "Scrapbook Debates," a set of newspaper clippings.

  • 1870-1872

    Known as the "Cotton Debates," after the name of the Ottawa Times reporter who compiled them.

  • 1867-1870

    Edited and assembled by the Library of Parliament from period newspaper sources.


Senate

Official debates contain all Members' speeches nearly verbatim. Reporters do make slight changes, but only to correct poor or confusing grammar and syntax. Members can also request minor corrections so long as they do not affect the substance or meaning of what was said.

Prior to 1871, speeches were published in the Ottawa Times, with the help of a Senate subsidy. The Library of Parliament undertook a project to edit and assemble the debates into a single work.


Committees

The debates of parliamentary committees are known as Evidence.

  • House of Commons Committees Evidence
    1. For earlier sessions than the current one, use the "Select a different session" pulldown menu.
    2. Click "Committee List," and then select a committee
    3. Click "Meetings" in the menu on the left side of the page. From here you can either select evidence by date or click the "Index of Proceedings" to browse by subject
    • 1867-1993 - Available in the Government Information Service
  • Senate Committees Evidence
    1. If you require evidence from a previous session, select it from the "Committees Archives" pulldown menu
    2. On the new page, select a committee
    3. Click "Committee Proceedings." Evidence is browsable by date.
    • 1867-1993 - Available in the Government Information Service


Pre-Confederation (1841-1866)

Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada

  • 1856-1866

    The debates for these years are accessible through a microfilm copy of the "Scrapbook Debates," a set of newspaper clippings.

  • 1841-1856

    These debates were reconstructed by historians using speeches published in contemporary newspapers. The compilers compared multiple sources in an effort to identify and mitigate the biases of the source material.

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