Archives are the major collectors of primary source materials. While the Library and Archives Canada have many materials useful for the study of provincial and local government, the equivalent official provincial, territorial and municipal archives will most often be the best sources. There are also other special archival collections in museums, universities and other institutions that may include material on your topic. To find the archival collections that are most likely to be useful for your research, check the website of the relevant official archive for your jurisdiction, search their collections or contact their reference staff. The combined holdings of archives across Canada and their digitized collections can also be searched online:
Archives Canada Gateway. http://archivescanada.ca/ From this site you can access the provincial archives for each province, and over 800 others, including city archives and municipal government collections. You can also search the combined holdings of archives and their digital collections. (More links to archives are in Finding -- Government Information.)
Archives are not the only places to find primary source material. The following are examples of the kinds of primary sources available for the study of contemporary provincial/territorial and local government and politics in Canada, and their finding aids. They supplement the general sources listed in the main parts of this guide.
(See also Primary Sources--Introduction in the main part of this guide for general tips on finding and using primary source material.)
What Was Said: (Quotations, speeches, interviews, hearings, in provincial legislatures, city councils, etc.)
Special Collections: Audio file collections, and collections of individual politicians' speeches, interviews or quotations exist for some provincial politicians. Some examples:
The Legislature Speaks: Voice Recordings from the Yukon Archives Vault 1961-2001. http://yukonlegislaturespeaks.ca/index.php/biographies
For each of about 100 MLAs and 10 Commissioners the site provides a brief audio clip of a recorded speech along with biographical information and sound clip summary.
Lucien Bouchard Mot à Mot. Compiled by Rémi Maillard. Quebec: Stanké, 1996. 384 p.
1,500 quotes from this Quebec Premier's press conferences, speeches, autobiography, radio and television transcripts, Hansard, newspapers and magazines, and other documents from the years 1957-1996 are listed in dictionary style, with each entry under a term for the topic of the quote.
The Newfoundland National Convention, 1946-1948. Ed. by M. F Harrington and James Hiller. 2 vols: Vol. 1: Debates, Vol. 2: Reports and Papers. Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1995. 2,021 p.
Edited volumes of the debates that led to Newfoundland joining Canada.
Voices of Politics. http://wayback.archive-it.org/2217/20101208160518/http://www.abheritage.ca/abpolitics/voices.html
Part of the archived "Alberta's Political History" website, this is a collection of audio files from 1940 - 1996 of various Alberta politicians discussing provincial and local politics, the national energy program, etc.
First Ministers' and Premiers' Conferences. http://www.scics.gc.ca
The Canadian Intergovernmental Conference Secretariat website lists meetings from 1997 on, some with news releases reporting on what was discussed or agreements reached. Two publications provide more descriptive detail:
First Ministers' Conferences 1906-2004 http://publications.gc.ca/pub?id=9.802751&sl=1 and
Premiers' Conferences 1887-2002 http://publications.gc.ca/pub?id=9.686748&sl=0
These list the conferences that took place, the public agenda, if any, the Ministers or Premiers attending, number of delegates, title of communiqué issued, if any, and sometimes other brief notes on the conference. More detail may be reported in news sources or can be requested from the Secretariat.
Municipal Council and Committee Meeting Minutes.
Unlike federal and provincial Debates (Hansard) in Parliament and Legislative Assemblies, municipal Council meeting minutes are not usually a verbatim account of everything that was said, but a synopsis of topics discussed, reports received, bylaws introduced and passed, information received and votes taken. Some municipalities have video or audio files of the proceedings available online or at the Clerk's Office.
Many cities, towns and regional municipalities have years of archived Council minutes available online. For example:
Halifax Regional Municipality. 1996 - .
City of London, ON. 2000 - .
City of Saskatoon . 1991 - .
City of St. John's . 2001 - .
City of Toronto . 1998 - .
City of Vancouver. 1995 - .
City of Victoria. 1995 - .
City of Yellowknife. 1999 - .
Committee minutes can provide more detail of interest to researchers, and are also sometimes available online (e.g. City of Toronto).
Recent Council and committee minutes can be accessed by the public at the Clerk's Office in city or town halls. Older years may be found in libraries and archives.
Provincial Legislative Assembly Committee Meeting Proceedings. (See links to Legislatures in Finding -- Government Information)
The provincial and territorial legislatures have a committee system like the federal Parliament's, with standing committees and special or select committees. To see the verbatim transcripts of proceedings in committee meetings, see the Legislative Assembly website for each province/territory and select "Committees" or "Committee Proceedings" or "Proceedings". Most provinces and territories provide some access to these transcripts online and years available vary. To see transcripts in print contact the Committee Clerk or Office of the Legislative Assembly, or a research or legislative library. Committee transcripts typically include the testimony of "witnesses", speakers called to provide expert opinion on the issues under study.
Provincial Legislative Assembly Debates (Hansard). https://www.canlii.org/en/index.html
Just as in the federal Parliament, the debates that take place in provincial and territorial legislatures are transcribed verbatim. The official title varies, for example: Alberta Hansard, Debates of the Legislative Assembly in B.C., etc. Links to the Hansard in each province/territory are also available from CanLII (Canadian Legal Information Institute), a nonprofit organization created by the Federation of Law Societies of Canada. All provinces and territories provide online access to at least some years of their Debates except for New Brunswick. For access to Debates not online, contact the legislative library or research libraries in each province.
Question Period (Oral Questions). Each sitting day of provincial legislatures, as for Parliament, includes time scheduled for members to ask questions of the government. The questions and answers appear in the transcribed Debates/Hansard, but some provinces also provide live video and audio webcasts of this portion of the proceedings at least, in many cases much more:
British Columbia: https://www.leg.bc.ca/documents-data/broadcasts-and-webcasts
New Brunswick: https://www.gnb.ca/legis/webcasts/index-e.asp
Newfoundland & Labrador: https://www.assembly.nl.ca/HouseBusiness/Webcast/default.aspx
Northwest Territories: https://www.ntassembly.ca/documents-proceedings/broadcasting
Nova Scotia: https://nslegislature.ca/legislative-business/legislative-tv
Prince Edward Island: https://www.assembly.pe.ca/watch-live
Throne Speech and Budget Speech. The Hansard/Debates include the government's Throne Speech at the start of each session, and the budget speech and related debates. A digitized collection of provincial government Throne Speeches since 1960 and other budget-related speeches is available in POLTEXT by the Laval University Center for Public Policy Analysis:
Provincial Throne Speeches: https://www.poltext.org/en/canadian-provinces-throne-speeches
Provincial Budget Speeches: https://www.poltext.org/en/part-1-electronic-political-texts/canadian-provinces-budget-speeches
Statements, Speeches, Press Releases by Premiers, provincial Ministers, Mayors, etc.
See the official provincial and municipal websites for the text or online video of selected speeches and statements by Premiers, Ministers, and sometimes Mayors. Each provincial and territorial government website also has a section for news releases, where some statements may appear. Search library catalogues for years predating the material available on their websites. See Clarifying - General Facts for links to official provincial and municipal websites.
For tips on finding more speeches, interviews, quotations, etc. see Primary Sources - What Was Said in the main part of this guide.
What Was Written:
The major federal political parties have branches in the provinces where they run for provincial election. There are also several parties that exist at the provincial level only. To find their most current documents, whether internal (constitution, policy resolutions, etc.) or public documents (election platforms, campaign material, etc.) see their websites. You may also have to contact them or visit their headquarters to request access to some documents. Older materials may only be found by searching the National Library union catalogue Voilà, the larger libraries in each province, or in special collections, archives, or the Internet Archive. The following are examples of provincial political party documents and their finding aids:
Provincial and Territorial Political Party Websites. The Chief Electoral Officer's website in each province and territory maintains the official list of registered political parties in their province/territory, with contact information and a link to their websites. The Elections Canada page: "Provincial and Territorial Election Officials" links to each of these. (New and unregistered parties, those who do not intend to run for election or do not yet have the support or funds to do so, may be listed in some of the many other, non-official collections of political party websites on the Internet.)
Search by party name as "Author". Key individuals, party leaders, etc. may also have authored documents. The political party may also be catalogued as the publisher. Common subject headings for documents produced by political parties include:
[party name] -- platforms (e.g. Green Party of British Columbia -- platforms)
campaign literature -- [province]
campaign literature, [year] -- [party name]
platforms -- [party name]
political campaigns -- [province] -- [city]
Some archival collections or their descriptions are being digitized and may be found by searching with a generic Internet search engine, but most require more targeted searching within archival databases. To find these see:
ArchivesCanada.ca. Canadian Council of Archives. https://archivescanada.accesstomemory.ca/
The gateway to Canadian archives includes a database of the holdings descriptions from archives across the country searchable by name, place, subject, media type, creator, and institution.
Some examples of political party documents and collections:
POLTEXT: Electronic Manifestos Canadian Provinces. By Center for Public Policy Analysis, Laval University. https://www.poltext.org/en/part-1-electronic-political-texts/electronic-manifestos-canadian-provinces
A digitized collection of the party platforms of each province since the 1940's or earlier.
Alberta New Democrats Fonds. 1944-1993. Provincial Archives of Alberta. Description of Records.
Convention '72. Toronto: New Democratic Party of Ontario, 1972. 32 p.
Co-operative Commonwealth Federation. Provincial Archives of Saskatchewan. https://search.saskarchives.com/co-operative-commonwealth-federation
The CCF-related collections include a wide variety of published materials such as issues of the CCF News, booklets, political pamphlets, press clippings, etc. as well as photographs, interviews, speeches and more.
Douglas MacFarlane Fonds. https://archivescanada.accesstomemory.ca/new-democratic-party-prince-edward-island
Includes Co-operative Commonwealth Federation/New Democratic Party of PEI records from 1941 to 1996.
The History of New Brunswick Provincial Election Campaigns and Platforms, 1866-1974: With Primary Source Documents on Microfiche. Calvin Woodward. Toronto: Micromedia, 1976. 89 p. +7 microfiche.
Municipal Campaigning. By Mike Cassidy. Toronto: Ontario NDP Municipal Committee. Rev. ed. 1985. 31 p.
Proposals for Property Tax and Municipal Finance Reform. Policy and Resolutions Committee, Task Force on Municipal Affairs, Toronto: Ontario NDP, 1980. 11 p.
Time-tables of Progress: Social Credit Government Manifesto for the 60's. Social Credit Party (BC) Campaign Committee, 1963. 16 p.
Note that much of a party's platform or policies may only be accessible via the media -- policy statements published in newspapers, speeches recorded on television or radio, etc. Use all resources required to find these different types of materials. See the: "What was Said", "Recorded Images", "News Sources" sections of this guide.
The reports of royal commissions and commissions of inquiry can be a treasure-trove of research material. Some sample titles and finding aids:
British Columbia Royal Commission on Electoral Reform. Final Report in 6 vols., 1979.
Manitoba Royal Commission on Local Government Organization and Finance. Final Report. 1964.
Newfoundland and Labrador Royal Commission on Renewing and Strengthening Our Place in Canada: Final Report (and 28 research papers), 2003.
New Brunswick Royal Commission on Finance and Municipal Taxation. Report. 1963.
Nova Scotia Royal Commission on Education, Public Services and Provincial Municipal Relations. Final Report in 4 vols., 1974.
Ontario Royal Commission on Metropolitan Toronto. Report in 2 vols, 1977. Dozens of background and technical reports, 1974-1977.
Saskatchewan Royal Commission on Government Administration. Report. 1965.
Provincial Royal Commissions and Commissions of Inquiry, 1867-1982: A Selective Bibliography. By Lise Maillet. Ottawa: National Library of Canada, 1986 254 p.
All provincial Royal Commissions and Commissions of Inquiry authorized by a Public Inquiries Act are listed, by province, with final and interim reports. Indexed by subject and Chair/Commissioner. No annotations.
Alberta Digital Royal Commissions. University of Alberta Libraries.
This archived site provides online access to the reports, selected briefs, exhibits and testimony of the commissions listed in Royal Commissions and Commissions of Inquiry in the Province of Alberta, 1905-1976 by Christine Backhaus, Legislative Library, 1977. The site is searchable by keyword or you can find reports by browsing by title, place, commissioner, publisher or subject heading.
(British Columbia) Royal and Special Commissions: 1872 to 1980 and 1981 - 2005: A Checklist. BC Legislative Library. https://www.llbc.leg.bc.ca/commissions/
Several checklists are here as well as the digitized reports of most commissions.
(Manitoba) Bibliography of Manitoba Royal Commissions, Commissions of Inquiry, and Special Committees: First Draft. Legislative Library of Manitoba. 1985. 78 p. http://digitalcollection.gov.mb.ca/awweb/pdfopener?smd=1&did=26174&md=1
(Manitoba) Royal Commissions and Commissions of Inquiry Under the "Evidence Act" in Manitoba: A Checklist. By Marjorie Morley. Rev. ed. Winnipeg: Provincial Library, 1979. 17 p.
New Brunswick Commissions of Enquiry: The Early Years, 1784-1948. By Elizabeth Hamilton et al, University of New Brunswick. https://web.lib.unb.ca/Texts/NBHistory/Commissions/
This site provides online access to the digitized reports and some background documents of New Brunswick commissions from the province's beginning to 1948, plus one important one (the Byrne commission report) from 1963. Titles are listed in chronological order and the headers and abstracts of each document can be searched by title, name and subject.
Nova Scotia Royal Commissions and Commissions of Inquiry, 1849-1984: A Checklist. 3rd ed. Halifax: Legislative Library, 1984. 39 p.
(Ontario) Royal Commissions and Commissions of Inquiry for the Provinces of Upper Canada, Canada and Ontario, 1792-1991: A Checklist of Reports. By Dawna Petsche-Wark and Catherine Johnson. Toronto: Legislative Library, 1992. 174 p.
(Ontario) Royal Commissions of Ontario. https://archive.org/details/royalcommissions&tab=collection
Digitized collection in the Internet Archive.
(Quebec) Les Commissions d'enquête au Québec depuis 1867. By Bibliothèque de l’Assemblée nationale du Québec. https://www.bibliotheque.assnat.qc.ca/guides/fr/98-les-commissions-d-enquete-au-quebec-depuis-1867
(Quebec) Commissions et comités gouvernementaux et parlementaires du Québec 1867-1986: Liste bibliographique annotée. By Virginie Jamet. Bibliothéque de l'Assemblée nationale, 1987. 186 p.
(Quebec) Rapports de comités, commissions et groupes de travail, 1987-1997: Liste Bibliographique. By Diane Chamberlan and Claude Lajoie. Bibliothéque de l'Assemblée nationale, 1998. 84 p.
(Saskatchewan) Guide to the Records of Royal and Special Commissions and Committees of Inquiry Appointed by the Province of Saskatchewan. Rev. to Dec. 31, 1968. Regina: Legislative Assembly Office, 1969. 103 p.
Saskatchewan Royal Commission and Committee Reports, 1945-1978. Regina: Saskatchewan Legislative Library, 1980.
See the description of task force reports in the Primary Sources section of the main part of this guide. Note that special committees may also function as task forces. The following are some examples of task force reports on provincial and local politics and government:
Alberta Government Deregulation: Back to Basics. Alberta Government Caucus Task Force on Deregulation. Edmonton, Government of Alberta, 1994. 54 p.
Alberta Task Force on Urbanization and the Future. Multiple reports and studies, 1971-1974.
Canada's Urban Strategy: A Blueprint for Action: Final Report. Ottawa: Prime Minister's Caucus Task Force on Urban Issues. Judy Sgro, Chair, 2002. 35 p.
City of Vancouver. Independent Election Task Force. Final Report. Jan. 2017. 138 p.
Getting Montreal Moving Again: Report of the Task Force on the Revitalization of the Montreal Region. Montreal: the Task Force, 1996. 1 vol.
Greater Toronto: Report of the GTA Task Force. Toronto: the Task Force, 1996. 269 p.
New City, New Opportunities: Final Report of the Toronto Transition Team. 1997. 338 p. and Archival Reports and Information CD-ROM (background reports and studies.)
Nova Scotia Task Force on Local Government: Report to the Government of Nova Scotia. Halifax: the Task Force, 1992. 136 p.
Options 2000: A Framework for Municipal Review: Summary of Final Reports. Regina, SK: Task Force on Municipal Legislative Renewal, 2000. 90 p.
Report of the Local Government Elections Task Force. B.C. Ministry of Community and Rural Development and Union of British Columbia Municipalities, May 2010. 68 p.
Report of the Task Force on Non-Incorporated Areas in New Brunswick. Government of New Brunswick, 1976. 104 p.
Task Force on the Restructuring of City Council: Final Report. Winnipeg, MB: City of Winnipeg, 1995. 1 vol.
See Finding Government Information for links to provincial government websites, their publications pages, catalogues, and tips for finding government publications in general. Selected key documents available from most provincial and territorial governments include financial documents: budgets, fiscal updates, estimates (the government's financial plan), public accounts (audited financial statements of all departments, agencies and commissions), and Auditor General Reports). The latest versions of these will most often be found on the province's Finance Department and Auditor General's websites, with earlier information in research libraries in the relevant province.
For Provincial Auditor General Reports, in most cases from the 1990s to the present, see also the Laval University, Center for Public Policy Analysis digitized collection:
Most provincial government agencies, boards, commissions and departments or ministries also publish an annual report listing their activities, accomplishments and some financial information for the year. The latest of these are usually available on each individual agency's website or department's web page.
The Ministry responsible for Local Government in each province and territory publishes financial statistics and other information on its municipalities. (See Clarifying - General Facts & Figures for links to these Ministries.)
The Chief Electoral Office in each province publishes reports on elections and the financial contributions and expenses of registered political parties in the province. Their websites generally have much related information and publications by the electoral boundary commissions, etc. (See Clarifying - General Facts & Figures for links to provincial and territorial Official Electoral Office sites.)
Research commissioned by or published by the provincial and territorial governments may take the form of Royal Commissions, Commissions of Inquiry, or task force reports (mentioned above), legislative committee reports (see Legislative Documents below), or reports by consultants and others. Some examples:
Canadian Election Reform: Dialogue on Issues and Effects. Toronto: Ontario Commission on Election Contributions and Expenses, 1982. 282 p.
Functional Economic Areas in Saskatchewan: A Framework for Municipal Restructuring. By Jack Stabler and Rose Olfert. Regina: Saskatchewan Municipal Affairs, Culture & Housing, 2000. 59 p.
The Report on Maritime Union: Commissioned by the Governments of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. By John Deutsch and Fred Drummie. Fredericton, NB: Maritime Union Study, 1970. 122 p.
Sea-to-Sky Corridor Travel Demand Study: Final Report. By TSi Consultants et. al. Victoria: B.C. Ministry of Transportation, 2002. 214 p.
Municipal Equivalents. Municipalities also publish annual reports, budget information, audited financial statements, and audit reports, planning-related documents, issue papers, administrative reports, technical studies, statistical data, research and policy papers. See Clarifying - General Facts & Figures for links to Official Municipal government websites to see current examples. More will be available through municipal and research libraries and archives. Some report examples:
City of Edmonton: 2000 Citizen Satisfaction Survey. Banister Research & Consulting Inc., Edmonton: City of Edmonton, 2000. 104 p.
Parties and Power: An Analysis of Winnipeg City Council, 1919-1975. By J.E. Rea. Winnipeg: Committee of Review, City of Winnipeg Act, 1976. 165 p.
Powers of Canadian Cities: The Legal Framework. Background Report 2 of 3 for "Towards a New Relationship with Ontario and Canada", by the Chief Administrator's Office, City of Toronto, 2000.
Urbanisation: A Study of Urban Expansion in the Montreal Region. 2nd ed. Montreal: City Planning Dept., 1968. 118 p.
Other: Joint, Federal Government Documents on Provincial/Municipal Issues. Over the years there have been several federal government bodies assigned to examine municipal affairs or responsible for various aspects of municipal affairs, e.g. Cities Secretariat, advisory committees, Minister of State for Urban Affairs (appointed in 1971), Infrastructure Canada (to help finance water, sewer and transportation projects), etc. Joint bodies, such as federal/provincial Ministers' and Premiers' conferences, Western Premiers Conference, Council of Atlantic Premiers, Canadian Federation of Mayors and Municipalities, etc., have also published the occasional report of research interest.
Adapting Infrastructure to Climate Change in Canada's Cities and Communities: A Literature Review. By Infrastructure Canada, 2006. 23 p.
Assessment of the Municipal Acts of the Provinces and Territories. By Donald Lidstone for the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, 2004.
The Political and Administrative Structures of the Metropolitan Region of Toronto. By Andre Bernard et. al. Ottawa: Min. of State for Urban Affairs, 1975. 245 p.
Report on Atlantic/Maritime Interprovincial Co-operation Between 1950 and 1971. By Paul Evans. [Halifax]: Council of Maritime Premiers, 1985. 206 p.
The Urban Transport Problem in Canada, 1970-2000. By D.J. Reynolds for the Minister Responsible for Housing, Government of Canada. Ottawa: CMHC, 1971. 105 p.
See also "Policy Papers", "Legislative Documents", and "Law & Legislation and Court Reports" below.
See Policy Papers in the main Primary Sources section of this guide for tips on identifying and finding policy papers. (Note: Substitute the province or city name for "Canada" in the subject headings given.) Some examples of provincial/territorial and municipal government policy papers:
Government of Alberta Strategic Business Plan 2007-10. 2007. 43 p.
Greater Opportunity: An Innovation Agenda for New Brunswick, 2002 - 2012. Fredericton, NB: Executive Council Office, 2002. 31,33 p.
An Industrial Policy Framework for Ontario. Toronto: Government of Ontario, 1992. 43 p.
One Citizen, One Vote: Green Paper on the Reform of the Electoral System. By Robert Burns. Quebec: Ministre d'État à la Réforme électorale et parlementaire, Government of Quebec, 1979. 116 p.
A Social Development Strategy for the City of Toronto. City of Toronto, 2001. 43 p.
White Paper on Local Government Elections Reform. BC Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, 2013. 132 p.
White Paper on Municipal Reform. Charlottetown, PEI: Government Reform Office, 1993. 49 p.
White Paper on the Responsibilities of Government. Government of New Brunswick, 1965. 21 p.
Livres blancs et livres verts au Québec, 1964-1984. 3rd ed. By Gaston Deschênes. Quebec: Bibliothéque de l'Assemblée Nationale, 1981. 52 p.
Committee Reports: Standing committees exist on important topics of ongoing concern in both provincial legislatures and municipal governments. These are independent of the related departments and include members of both the governing party and others. Special Committees are appointed to look into specific issues and are usually disbanded once they submit their report. Most committees prepare reports on issues under study, hearing testimony from experts and others from government staff and the public, to make recommendations to government. Their studies and reports can be very useful research material.
NOTE: Interest groups and government bodies may submit briefs to committees informing them of the impact of proposed legislation on their group or to lobby for particular changes. These briefs may be found as part of the committee minutes, on the group's or committee's website, or in library catalogues by authoring body.
Other Legislative Documents: See "What was Said" (above) for details on Debates, Council minutes, and the minutes or proceedings of legislative and Council committees.
Journals. For provincial committee reports and other legislative papers (sessional papers), check the Journals (the official record of what goes on in the Legislative Assembly) for the time period relevant to your research. Other finding aids:
Reference Guide to Alberta Government Committees, 1905-1980. By Karen Powell. Edmonton: Alberta Legislature Library, 1982. 159 p.
Saskatchewan Royal Commission and Committee Reports, 1945-1978. Regina: Saskatchewan Legislative Library, 1980.
Select Committees of the Assemblies of the Provinces of Upper Canada, Canada and Ontario, 1792 to 1991: A Checklist of Reports. Comp. and ed. by Richard Sage and Aileen Weir. Toronto: Ontario Legislative Library, 1992. 431 p.
Select Committees of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, 1867-1978: A Checklist of Reports. By Eleanor Barnes. Toronto: Legislative Library, 1983. 8 p.
Some towns, cities, villages, etc. have a selected list or complete set of bylaws available on their website. Most city sites will have bylaws under a heading like "City Hall", or "City Government". For example:
City of Toronto Bylaws. 1998 - . https://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/bylaws/lawlists.htm
Municipal Codes. These are compilations of bylaws organized in some way, usually with a table of contents, index, etc., online versions being keyword searchable. For example:
City of Toronto Municipal Code https://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/bylaws/lawmcode.htm?1620075146244
City Bylaws, Richmond, BC: https://www.richmond.ca/cityhall/bylaws/chapter.htm
Note: Print copies of current bylaws are usually available to the public from the City Clerk's Office or equivalent. Older versions may only be available in libraries and/or archives.
Provincial/Territorial Acts (Statutes), Bills, Status of Bills, Regulations, Orders in Council, Official Gazettes.
Statutes are the published laws (Acts) of the province. They are most often found on the province's Justice department website, along with their Regulations, which are detailed rules on how a law is to be interpreted. NOTE: Provincial acts, such as the Municipal Act, Municipal Elections Act, Planning Act, or variations on these titles and others more specific, prescribe the powers and form of local government in each province.
Bills are laws in the making: bills are proposed, studied and debated in legislatures before they can become law. Bills are generally found on the Legislative Assembly websites for each province/territory along with a useful guide to where the bill stands in the process of becoming law, called "Status of Bills" or "Progress of Legislation", showing the readings that have passed, whether the bill has been sent to committee for review, etc.
Orders in Council are brief official directives from the Executive Council. They allow governments to make regulations, appoint members to boards and commissions, and make certain other decisions without requiring approval from the Legislative Assembly.
Gazettes are the official newspaper of the provincial and territorial governments. They record new acts and regulations, proposed regulations, some orders in council, and other statutory notices and decisions taken by government, election results, etc. All provinces and territories have an Official Gazette. See List of Provincial Gazettes.
For more details on these sources in general see Law & Legislation - Primary Sources in the main part of this guide.
CanLII. Canadian Legal Information Institute. https://www.canlii.org/en/index.html
This site by the Federation of Law Societies of Canada provides a search interface for and links to the acts and regulations, provincial courts, boards and tribunals, gazettes and status of legislation for each province and territory.
Queen's University Law Library Research Guide: Canadian Legislation, Court & Related Information Online (Highlighting Open Access Options). https://guides.library.queensu.ca/canadian-legislation-court-cases-online
This guide links, for each province and territory, to acts and regulations, bills and status of legislation, gazettes, debates, orders in council, the Legislative Assembly website and the provincial courts and tribunals.
NOTE: Not all of these sources are available online for all provinces and territories for all years. Print versions can be found in research and legislative libraries and archives.
Case law decisions from various provincial and territorial courts, boards and tribunals are available on some of the courts' websites. CanLII also links to those available online and the search engine allows you to search all together.
Provincial/Territorial Election-Related Legislation.
Each province's and territory's Official Electoral Office site has posted regulations for candidates and other election-related legislation. See also:
Compendium of Election Administration in Canada. By Elections Canada. Updated annually. (Provides summaries and comparative analysis of all federal, provincial and territorial election legislation in Canada. Also has a summary of recent case law relating to election issues.)
Blakeney, Allan. An Honourable Calling: Political Memoirs. University of Toronto Press, 2008. 256 p.
Charest, Jean. My Road to Québec. (French title: J'ai choisi le Québec.) Saint-Laurent: QC: Editions P. Tisseyre, 1998. 235 p.
Douglas, Tommy. The Making of a Socialist: The Recollections of T. C. Douglas. Ed. by Lewis H. Thomas. Edmonton: University of Alberta Press, 1981. 400 p.
MacDonald, Donald C. The Happy Warrior: Political Memoirs. Toronto: Dundurn Press, 1998. 381 p.
McCallion, Hazel and Robert Brehl. Hurricane Hazel: A Life with Purpose. HarperCollins, 2014 304 p.
Phillips, Nathan. Mayor of all the People. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1967. 207 p.
Rae, Bob. From Protest to Power: Personal Reflections on a Life in Politics. Toronto: Viking, 1996. 304 p.
Sewell, John. Up Against City Hall. Toronto: J. Lewis & Samuel, 1972. 179 p.
Steele, Graham. What I Learned about Politics: Inside the Rise and Collapse of Nova Scotia's NDP Government. Nimbus Publishing, 2014. 200 p.
W.A.C. Bennett Fonds. Simon Fraser University Archives. https://atom.archives.sfu.ca/f-55
Louis J. Robichaud Fonds. Centre d'études acadiennes, Université de Moncton. Description: https://www.umoncton.ca/umcm-ceaac/files/umcm-ceaac/wf/wf/pdf2/573-louisjrob.pdf
Joseph R. Smallwood Papers. Centre for Newfoundland Studies, Queen Elizabeth II Library, Memorial University. Description: https://collections.mun.ca/digital/collection/ead/id/493/rec/1
To find more unpublished papers use the Archives Canada Gateway to search archives across Canada or to select the most appropriate archival collections in the province or locality relevant to your research topic. Provincial Archives collect the unpublished records of their governments, usually also including their Premiers' office-related and personal papers. See for example:
Premiers' Papers Collection at the Provincial Archives of Alberta: https://provincialarchives.alberta.ca/how-to/explore-paa-research-resources/premiers-papers
City archives collect the records created by their municipal government and those created by city officials, and can contain some of their personal papers as well. Politicians may also donate some of their personal papers to other local archives, often university archives or other special collections.
See also the main Primary Sources section of this guide for other tips on finding archival material.
Recorded Images (Film and video footage, photographs and cartoons):
Film, video footage:
See also the Provincial Archives linked to in the introduction at the beginning of this special topic guide. Some provincial archives' websites include searchable film/video collections or other finding aids. Sample documentary films:
The Art of the Possible. Dir. by Peter Raymont. Montreal: National Film Board of Canada, 1978. 1 videocassette (57 min. 51 sec.)
A behind-the-scenes look at Ontario Premier Bill Davis and his Cabinet at work: in committee meetings, preparing the throne speech, tabling the provincial budget, etc.
Campaign: The Making of a Candidate: A Film. Dir. by Andrew Munger. Montreal: National Film Board of Canada, 2004. 1 videocassette (57 min. 11 sec.)
A documentary showing David Miller's campaign for mayor of Toronto.
CBC Archives: Provincial & Territorial Politics. https://www.cbc.ca/archives/categories/politics/
Under this heading are many collections of CBC television and radio clips of individual politicians and political topics, including "On the Campaign Trail" documenting elections in each province and territory. Searches can be limited to video.
Joey Smallwood: Between Scoundrels and Saints. Dir. by Barbara Doran. Produced by Morag Productions Inc. and CBC. Montreal : National Film Board of Canada, 1999. 1 videocassette (43 min. 53 sec.)
A documentary of the man who led Newfoundland into Confederation and remained in power for over 20 years, it includes archival footage, readings from his journals and interviews.
Local and Provincial Governments -- Working Together. Dir. by Jane Churchill, Produced by NFB with Multiculturalism and Citizenship Canada, Secretary of State Canada and the National Capital Commission. Government in Canada - Citizenship in Action Series, vol. 4. Montreal : National Film Board of Canada, 1990. 1 videocassette (37 min. 4 sec.)
This video shows the relationship between all levels of government and how they deal with funding and issues crossing jurisdictional boundaries. A case study shows how individuals can influence local government decisions.
Tommy Douglas: In His Own Words. Produced and directed by Leif Storm. Toronto, ON: Kinetic Canada, 2001. 47 min. VHS.
A video documentary of this four-time premier who introduced Medicare to Canada, combining personal interviews and some of his speeches.
Photographs and Cartoons:
See Primary Sources--Recorded Images--Photographs in the main part of this guide for the major sources for finding photographs. See also the Provincial Archives and other sites linked to in the introduction at the beginning of this section. Some provincial archives' websites include searchable photograph collections or other finding aids. In many cases, digital collections are being added to regularly. Some special collections:
BC Historical Photographs Online. Archives Association of British Columbia. https://aabc.ca/resources/bc-historical-photographs/
TimeLinks: Politics and Government Image Archive. Manitoba Historical Society. http://www.mhs.mb.ca/docs/features/timelinks/imageref/imageref33.shtml
Bill Bennet: The End. By Marjorie Nichols and Bob Krieger. Vancouver, BC: Douglas & McIntyre, 1986. 108 p.
Five Twisted Years: British Columbia: What Really Happened: Editorial Cartoons. By Adrian Raeside. Victoria, BC: Sono Nis Press, 1991. 200 p.
Politics & Lunatics. By Kevin Tobin. St. John's, NF: Jesperson Pub., 2000. 101 p.
Say Goodnight, Dick: A Collection of Hatfield Cartoons. By Beutel. Fredericton, NB: Non-Entity Press, 1985. 84 p.
See Primary Sources--Recorded Images in the main part of this guide for tips on finding more photographs, political cartoons, and other images.
What Is Happening Now (in political parties and government, contacting people, getting involved):
Besides all the tips and tools for keeping up to date with, or getting involved with, politics and government covered in the main part of this guide, the following are selected sources specific to local and provincial/territorial politics and government:
Information on what is going on in provincial political parties (upcoming conventions, riding or constituency association events, and during elections, candidates' and leaders' campaign schedules, etc.), and on how to get involved, is best obtained directly from the party website or your local provincial riding association. Political party websites usually have the top news stories related to the party, news releases, podcasts, RSS feeds, electronic newsletters and social media options. Some also have links to their candidates' or party members' websites, blogs and facebook pages. There will also be suggestions for how to join, donate, volunteer, etc. Use the following list for contact information for provincial parties and their constituency associations, including links to websites where available.
Note: Municipal government is not based on a party system. Individual candidates for municipal government positions may create websites to get themselves and their views known while campaigning.
Registered Provincial Political Parties.
See your Provincial/Territorial Chief Electoral Office website for links to all registered parties in your province or territory. (Scroll down this Elections Canada page to "Provincial and Territorial Election Officials".) Note: Nunavut and Northwest Territories candidates run as independents; there are no political parties in their legislatures.
Links by party:
Provincial Green Parties. https://www.greenparty.ca/en/contact-us/provincial-green-parties
These are volunteer organizations working for political parties, handling their ongoing party affairs, such as collecting contributions and supporting candidates. Each association must file an annual financial statement to the provincial Chief Electoral Officer as federal riding associations do to Elections Canada. Many have their own websites with local news and events, and information on how to get involved, sometimes with advice for potential and current candidates. Associations and their contact information should be listed on the provincial party websites or can be obtained from them.
For links to provincial/territorial and municipal government and related news sources see Finding & Evaluating -- Current Events/News. For information on how to get involved, see the websites of the relevant government departments and agencies which will have contact information, information on the latest events, consultations, hearings, Council meetings, etc., and instructions or advice for participants. For example:
A Supreme Court ruling (June 21, 2007) reinforced the requirement for City Council meetings to be open to the public, with very few exceptions such as where personnel issues are discussed. Cities, villages, towns and other municipal websites and Clerk's Offices provide access to the schedule and agendas for upcoming Council meetings so the public can attend.
Municipalities are required to give notice to the public of intent to pass bylaws. The type of notice varies but may include posting to the city's website (e.g. City of Toronto). Ask at your City/Town Hall or equivalent for details.
Besides running for election, members of the public can also seek appointment as a citizen member of a board, commission or committee. Most municipalities place ads in local newspapers or on their websites inviting applications from citizens.
Sample Guides for Citizen Participation:
The Citizen's Guide to Participation in Municipal Decision-making. Alberta Municipal Affairs, 2005 9 p. https://open.alberta.ca/publications/0778542254
A Citizen's Guide to Shaping Council Decisions. Saskatchewan Government Relations, 2020. 25 p. https://publications.saskatchewan.ca/#/products/87976
Sample Guides for Municipal Elections:
Candidate's Guide to Municipal & School Board Elections. By Nova Scotia Dept. of Municipal Affairs & Housing, 2020. 38 p. https://www.halifax.ca/sites/default/files/documents/city-hall/elections/2020CandidatesGuide.pdf
General Local Elections Process. BC. https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/local-governments/governance-powers/general-local-elections/process
Sample Guides for Candidates and Elected Officials:
Council Member's Handbook for Municipalities. By Saskatchewan Advisory Services and Municipal Relations, Nov. 2020. 27 p. https://www.saskatchewan.ca/government/municipal-administration/tools-guides-and-resources/information-for-council-members
Make Your Mark. (Municipal Council Handbook, etc.) By Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador. https://makeyourmarknl.ca/resources/
The Ontario Municipal Councillor's Guide. By Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs.https://www.ontario.ca/document/ontario-municipal-councillors-guide
Resources for Candidates and Councils. By The Union of the Municipalities of New Brunswick. https://umnb.ca/resources-for-candidates-and-councils/
The provincial courts and appeal courts are open to the public during regular sittings. Anyone can visit and observe. The official websites for each province's and territory's courts also provide advice or information kits for people to help prepare for their day in court. (See links to courts via CanLII, etc., under Primary Sources -- Written -- Government.)
Provincial/Territorial Elections Offices. https://www.elections.ca/content.aspx?section=lin&document=index&lang=e
Scroll down the page to see the links to the provincial/territorial equivalents of Elections Canada. These are the official and best sites to check for any election-related information including upcoming elections, by-elections, plebiscites, referenda, etc. and the rules, instructions, forms, and details for voters, candidates, their financial advisors and other participants. Information on municipal elections is also frequently provided.
Provincial/Territorial Legislative Assemblies. (See links under the tab: Clarifying -- General Information.)
Debates and most committee proceedings in legislative assemblies are open to the public and in some cases broadcast live on television or on the Internet. (See "What was Said" for links.) The legislature's calendar of sitting days, agendas (sometimes called "Orders and Notices" or "Orders of the Day"), committee meeting schedules and committee hearings are all posted on the official provincial/territorial legislature websites.
All of the legislative assemblies have information on how they work on their websites, and most also include details on how to get involved, such as advice on making a presentation to a legislative committee, how to get a petition tabled, what student experiences are offered, or just to learn more. Some have published extensive guides as well. For example:
The Citizen's Guide to the Alberta Legislature. Legislative Assembly of Alberta. 9th ed. 2016. 110 p.
Rules of the Legislative Assembly of Nunavut. 2016. 92 p. https://assembly.nu.ca/about-the-assembly
Contacting your Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) or Provincial Parliament (MPP): Electoral Offices and/or the legislative assemblies in each province and territory provide contact information, and easy ways to find out who represents you and your riding based on your address, postal code, or maps:
British Columbia: https://www.leg.bc.ca/learn-about-us/members
New Brunswick: https://www1.gnb.ca/elections/en/provstreetkey/provskinformation-e.asp
Newfoundland & Labrador: https://www.elections.gov.nl.ca/elections/voters/search.html
Northwest Territories: https://www.ntassembly.ca/about/maps/constituency-map
Nova Scotia: https://enstools.electionsnovascotia.ca/edinfo2012/