Canada’s Parliamentary Record Updates Its Status With Social Media Tools

by Taryn McMillan | Culture

How do you make the Hansard more appealing to a modern, tech-obsessed audience?

The official website for the Hansard has undergone a transformation in recent months, making it more accessible and Facebook-friendly. The site now contains audio and video clips, as well as tools for sharing content via social media.

The Hansard is over 100 years old and is the official record of debates from the Canadian House of Commons. It’s produced in both French and English and covers a variety of different topics, from routine proceedings to records of oral questions.

The Hansard has been online since 1996 and has received several upgrades, most notably in 2001 when a new database system was introduced.  

Thanks to the most recent update, the Hansard is now an integrated online experience. The names of MPs are linked to profile pages containing information about their federal political experience, their caucus and constituency, and their province of residence. In the extended profile view, you can subscribe to an MP’s activity feed and share their profile via Facebook and Twitter.

According to Stephan Aube, chief information officer for the House of Commons, the inclusion of social media tools is part of a broader effort to reach out to younger Canadians. "The fact that there is a younger generation in Parliament, there is a certain expectation that we can provide the infrastructure for allowing them to use these tools,” he said.

While the new update addresses concerns about accessibility, it isn’t without its glitches. As noted on several blogs online, the videos on the website are currently only viewable by users with Internet Explorer.

The Hansard is the product of a nineteenth-century printer named Thomas Curson Hansard who was looking for a way to publicize parliamentary proceedings. Over the years, technology has drastically changed its production.  Historically, the Canadian Hansard was recorded using a variety of different media, including newspapers, before becoming an official, full-length document in 1880.

Someday soon, you may even be able to view the Hansard on your phone. Developers are now considering porting the Hansard to mobile devices.

The update to the Hansard is another example of the federal government’s transition into the digital era. Last month, it was reported that MPs tweeted an average of 2,700 times per week when Parliament is in session. With the MPs back in Ottawa after a Thanksgiving break, there are more ways than ever to connect with Canadian politicians online.

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Taryn McMillan

Taryn McMillan

Taryn is a writer, educator, and doctoral student from Mississauga, Ontario. When she's not writing about technology, she is studying early modern history or playing and reviewing video games. Taryn has a B.A. in History and Theatre from York University and an M.A. in History from McMaster University. more

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