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Government Publications: Canada

Senate Documents

Hansard is the transcript of the debates in Parliament. Both the Upper House of Parliament, or Senate, and the Lower House of Parliament, or House of Commons, transcribe and publish their debates as a matter of public record.

  • Note, Official Debates from the Senate were not published until 1871. 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.
  • 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.

The Senate debates are available:

  • In print from UBC Library. Both the Reconstituted Debates from 1867 - 1870 and the Official Debates from 1871 to present are available at call no.: J103.S1.
  • online for free from the 35th Parliament 1st session (1994-Feb. 1996) to the present on the Parliament of Canada website here. Note, these online versions include a table of contents that features hyperlinks to the related pages of Hansard.
  • Online for subscribers: The Reconstituted Debates and the Official Debates from 1872 - 1900 are also available online from the subscription database Early Canadiana Online. The first Offical Debate from 1871 was scanned and included with the Reconstituted Debates in this database.

Journals

The Journals are the official record of the Senate's activities. These are published daily and are later revised and published in a sessional compilation.

  • Note, these are essentially minutes of the day's activities and do not generally include the text of documents mentioned therein. For example, the Bills that were read or voted on are named - but the texts of those bills are not included; all the reports tabled for the day are listed, but the contents are not included. However, the full-text of commissions, messages from the House of Commons and senator's statements are usually included.
  • The Senate Journals include the names of members in attendance for the day's sitting; names of those who have changed or left their standing committees; expenses figures for standing committees upon submission of their reports; and the names of those who put forward/second motions.
  • Senate voting details are also included in the Journals whenever a vote is not unanimous - with the names of those who voted for and against a particular bill, as well as those who abstained from voting.

Journals of the Senate of Canada are:

  • Available online for free from the Parliament of Canada website here for 35th Parliament, 2nd Session (1996) to present. Note, these are limited to the unrevised daily accounts.
  • Available online for subscribers from the database Early Canadiana Online for 1868 - 1900.
  • Available in print from UBC Library for 1867 - present at call no.: J103.S2

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.

While the Senate is entitled to introduce bills on any topic other than the "raising and spending of funds," in practice the vast majority of bills are introduced by the House of Commons.

  • You can find a legislative summary and the full-text of both the first reading and the Royal Assent version of Senate bills online on the Parliament of Canada website here for Parliament 35, 1st Session (1994) to present.
  • The subscription database Early Canadiana Online has a handful of second reading Senate bills - mostly from 1900.
    • UBC Library has print copies of Senate Bills from 1947 to present, with some volumes missing, at call no.: KE65.C36 (LC)
    • UBC Library also has links in the catalogue to the Senate bills found in Early Canadiana Online. Access to the full-text content of these bills is limited to UBC students, faculty and staff, and patrons working on Library workstations.

Order Papers & Notice Papers

Order Papers refer to the "orders of the day," or agenda for the day's sitting. Notice Papers contain "the text of motions and inquiries not yet called for debate."

  • You can link to these for the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session to present, from the Chamber Business section of the Parliament of Canada site here
  • UBC Library keeps print copies for the latest session only at call no.: J103.J2 C36