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Government Publications: Canada

House of Commons Documents

Debates/Hansard (1875-) and Reconstituted Debates (1867-1872)

Hansard: 

  • Written transcript of the debates in Parliament.
  • Webcasts of Parliamentary sessions are available on the website.
  • Consult Hansard when you want to follow the progress of a bill from its introduction through to its eventual passage into law.
  • Key source for speeches, debates and votes in Parliament.

Note, Official Debates from the House of Commons were not published until 1875. In earlier years, accounts of the debates were published in local newspapers, and the Library of Parliament staff members later cut these out and pasted them into scrapbooks. Thus, the early debates are sometimes referred to as Scrapbook debates, or the Cotton Debates - named after the reporter who transcribed them for the Ottawa Times.

More recently Library of Parliament undertook the task of editing the Scrapbook versions and published them in print volumes. These are known as the Reconstituted debates.

Online

  • 1867-1994 - Historical Debates of the Parliament of Canada. The portal includes all debates from Parliament 1, Session 1 (1867) until coverage on parl.gc.ca begins (1994). 

Print

  • In Koerner Library  J103.C1 - for years 1867 - 1869; and 1875 - present. Years 1870 - 1872 are at call no.: J103.B22

Years 1867 - 1869 and 1873 - 1874, along with some pre-Confederation debates for years 1846; 1866 and 1854 - 1864 are available on microform AW1.R-2077: Per.1 --- 1846/58 - 1873 --check titles

The print Hansard includes a subject and a speaker index for each session, which is available from UBC Library until the end of the 2nd Session, Parliament 35 (1996).

The Index to Hansard is also available on CD-Rom for Parliament 33 (1984) to Parliament 37, Session 3 (2004) at call number J103.C1 CD-ROM and online from 1994 onwards as noted above.

Journals

The Journals are the official record of the decisions and actions taken by the House of Commons. These are published daily and are later revised and published in both a weekly and a sessional compilation.

  • Note these are essentially minutes of the day's/week's/session's activities and do not generally include the content of documents mentioned therein. For example, the Bills that were read or voted on are named - but the full-text of those bills are not included; all reports tabled are listed, but the contents are not included.
  • The Journals do, however, include full voting records, so you can find the names of all the MPs who participated and how they voted. More information about voting records can be found below in the "Votes" section of this guide.
  • The Journals also record motions; government orders; private members' business; lists of petitions presented and lists of all reports/returns submitted to the Clerk of the House.

The Journals are available:

Online: 

  •  Early Canadiana Online. Note, this database provides full-text access to Pre-Confederation Journals of the Legislative Assembly for both Upper & Lower Canada, as well as the federal Journals of the House of Commons from 1867 - 1900. Indexes for the federal Journals from 1867 - 1903 are also included.
  • Internet Archive. (1901-1954) Note, the best way to access this collection is to do a title search for "Journals of the House of Commons of Canada." You can then choose to sort your results by date - with the latest publication appearing at the top of the list.
  • Parliament of Canada website (1996-present) This is a free resource. To access the older journals scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the appropriate Parliamentary session.

Print:

  • Koerner Library J103.C2 - 1867 - 1949 ; 1949 - 1976 1976- 2012
    • There is an index included for each session which will allow you to search by speaker and subject. It is usually shelved beside the last Journal for the session.
    • Note, the print indexes for sessions from 1867 - 1930 are extremely fragile and are not shelved with the print Journals. Ask for assistance at the reference desk in Koerner Library, or consult the online indexes for these years here.

Microfilm: 

  • for Pre-Confederation Journals, 1841 - 1866 at call no.: AW1 .R-5143

Votes

The record of votes appears in the Journals of the House of Commons. However, from 1867 - 1994 the Votes and Proceedings of the House of Commons of the Dominion of Canada was also published as a separate volume.

  • UBC Library has print volumes of the Votes and Proceedings for Parliament 27, Session 2 (1967/68) - Parliament 35, Session 1 (1994) at call no.: J103.V6
  • The Parliament of Canada website has a "votes" tab on the profile page it maintains for each MP. This feature keeps a running tally of all the votes the MP has participated in, along with the date of the vote; how the member voted and name of the bill in question. This information dates back to the 38th Parliament, 1st Session (2004).
    • The Parliament of Canada website also offers a searchable database of House of Commons votes, for the 38th Parliament, 1st Session (2004) - present - in addition to providing this information in the online Journals.

Openparliament.ca (non government site) also has voting information available online. 

Order Paper/Notice Papers

Order Papers refer to the "orders of the day," or agenda for the day's sitting.

Notice Papers are included in the day's Order Paper and are a statement of intent. They list any bills, motions, or questions that a Minister or MP intends to bring up that day.

Order Papers and Notice Papers are available:

Online: 

  • 1st Session, 35th Parliament (1996) - present from the House of Commons page on the Parliament of Canada website.

Bills

Bills are proposed laws introduced to Parliament. They do not become law until they have been passed by both the House of Commons and the Senate and then forwarded to the Governor General for Royal Assent.

For more detailed information on how a Bill becomes a Law click here.

The full-text of Bills from the 1st Session, 37th Parliament (2002) to present are available:

Online:

Print: 

  • 1947-2012  with some volumes missing. Call number KG12.A25.