Transcripts of Canadian parliamentary debates since 1901 are now online

A group of political scientists, computer scientists and historians at the University of Toronto have gotten together to digitize the Canadian Hansard (or the transcripts of parliamentary debates) since 1901.

The Linked Parliamentary Data Project, dubbed LiPad, is available only in English at the moment and will eventually include the full transcripts of the debates of Canadian Senate as well as the parliamentary committees.

While what’s currently available on the site seems pretty scarce compared to what’s to come, transcribing parliamentary debates since 1901 is a huge undertaking. Currently, the site contains a timeline with archives from 1901 to 2015, as well as the option to search the archives using multiple keywords and several filters.

While access to these documents has always been a right to Canadian citizens, they’re not always as accessible as they should be – ether scattered across various places online or available for physical viewing in Ottawa libraries.

This represents an effort across federal government to bring Canada closer to the open data role model it ought to be, though several municipalities such as Toronto have already undertaken open data initiatives.

These datasets are designed primarily for scholars interested in the Canadian Hansard, though it’s open to anyone. While the French version wasn’t released alongside the website launch, the creators insist that it’s of the highest priority and will make its way to the platform soon.

Anyone can view the compiled datasets at lipad.ca.

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