If you need to discern the intent behind a particular piece of legislation, there’s (arguably) no better place than from the discussion of those who brought it into being. Fortunately, the record of the debates of parliament, the Hansard Debates, are becoming increasingly available online.
Provincial Hansard records are available from the Legislative Assembly’s website, with scattered coverage back to 1979. PDF files of the most recent parliamentary debates are also available on the Legislative Assembly’s site in addition to the plain text. If you know the date on which a certain bill was discussed, you can simply browse to that date from the link above.
Most of the time, however, you will probably not know the exact date that the bill was discussed. In this case, you can browse to the Bill itself by clicking on Bills and Lawmaking -> Past & Present, and then select the parliamentary year from the dropdown menu. Once you have located the Bill, you can click on the “Debates” tab, as seen in the example below.
This will bring up a list of the dates that the Bill was discussed in parliament, and by clicking on the blue dates, will link you directly to the Hansard records. If a link is not available online, it will at least tell you the date, which you can then use to look it up in the print version at a library.
The majority of commentary occurs during the second reading of a bill. If it is deferred to a committee, the committee reports will also be linked from this screen.
You can also search the Hansard debates here, although your mileage may vary using this search tool.
We don’t hold the print copies of the Hansard here at the CCLA Library, but they are available from the University of Ottawa Law Library and the Supreme Court Library. As always, if you have difficulty finding what you need you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will do our best to point you in the right direction!