Established 50 years ago, Alberta Hansard is basically unchanged.

AuthorSchwegel, Janet

On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Alberta Hansard, a milestone achieved in March 2022, the office looked back to a time before the official record of Assembly proceedings existed in Alberta and reflected on early processes as well as how work has evolved over the years. It became evident that the story of Hansard's establishment, executed by J. Peter Swann and his small team, was worth telling. Much has changed, but the basic practices established then remain 50 years later. This article provides a timeline of the establishment of Alberta's Hansard, based on Swann's archived records and his report, A Report Relating to the Publication of the Proceedings of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta.


Alberta was one of the last provinces to produce an official report. As early as 1919 the matter was raised in the Assembly as one of "pressing importance and necessity," to which the Premier replied that "as the cost would be considerable, and but comparatively few would require the report when published ... there was no necessity for [the] Legislative Assembly to have a Hansard."

Long before an official Hansard was created, Library staff at the Legislature clipped newspaper articles into a collection called Scrapbook Hansard. That collection covers issues of the day from 1906 to 1971 in throne speeches, budget addresses, various bills, and legislative discussions.

In 1965 the Legislative Assembly asked the government to install sound recording equipment in the Chamber, and the Clerk was directed to produce verbatim reports of speeches made by each Member during the throne speech, budget debates, and for other proceedings as directed by the Assembly. Transcripts of other speeches and statements were also provided to Members on request. The first copy of a transcript was free to MLAs and to members of the press gallery. After that, each additional copy cost five cents per page.

By 1971 transcripts were being produced for much of the proceedings, particularly Oral Question Period. But these transcripts weren't a proper Hansard. They weren't comprehensive, they weren't timely, and they weren't published for the public. A memo from the Assistant Clerk of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta outlines transcription services at the time. It mentions transcription difficulties of the past year and suggests that the three or four stenographers operate on a "response to requests" basis rather than anticipate requests, that "automatic" production of transcripts be limited and "at the direction of the...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT