I don’t know about you but I am constantly finding neat, new things at the Parliamentary Web site. It’s invaluable for political journalists and, I assume, teachers, researchers and others who want to know more about federal politics.
Well, here’s some good news — all of Hansard for both the House of Commons and the Senate will be making its way online over the next couple of years.
Right now, Hansards dating back to 1994 for the House of Commons and to 1996 for the Senate are already online and are searchable.
But soon, through a partnership with Canadiana.org, digital versions of debates from both chambers going all the way back to 1867 will be available online free-of-charge and accessible through the same Parliamentary Web site portal that gives you yesterday’s Hansard.
I first heard about it from folks in the research library community and got more details from Sonia Bebbington, director of knowledge management and preservation at the Library of Parliament.
Bebbington says the plan is to start with the most recent Hansards and work backwards in time putting up digital versions of Hansard as they’re ready to go. A new portal, she says, should be ready for launch some time this spring. The new portal will debut with digital Hansards from both houses going back to 1988.
“Given that client interest has focused on the more recent history,” Bebbington writes, ”we intend to work backwards, loading a full Parliament at a time (for each Parliament, we will load all sessions, both chambers and both languages). It is anticipated that we will have all available content in the portal by the end of 2014 including the very early years of Parliament when there was no official record of debates. As you may be aware, the Library has been reconstituting this content from newspaper reports of each sitting day; this reconstituted content is currently available online. “