The Library of Parliament, in collaboration with Canadiana.org, has published online the Historical Debates of the Parliament of Canada. It is a free searchable database of historical debates of the House of Commons and the Senate.
Coverage goes back to 1867, and ends when the Parliament of Canada site starts its coverage (1994 for the House of Commons, and 1996 for the Senate). For the few years prior to commencement of official reporting, an unofficial version of the debate is included on the Historical Debates site. These reconstituted debates are drawn from newspaper reports of the day.
As with many archival databases, it is challenging to conduct full text searches and to review search results in the Historical Debates online. Search terms can appear anywhere in the volume, because proximity connectors are unavailable and the entire volume is a record. However, if the user starts out with a statute name, and the relevant year or legislative session, the correct volume can be located quickly. Once a volume is selected from the result list, more specific keyword searches can be done within that volume. This two-step method is likely to be the most efficient approach to searching this material.
Other useful online resources for federal legislative research include:
- Justice Laws website
- Parliament of Canada site, including LEGISinfo
- historical Canadian legislation in Hein Online
- Canada Gazette
- Table of Public Statutes
- Table of Private Acts
- Consolidated Index of Statutory Instruments
- Orders in Council database (from 1990)
- Historical Orders in Council (1867-1916)
For further information, see Researching Canadian Federal Statutes.