02 April 2006
Nova Scotia Hansard
The online presentation of the Nova Scotia Hansard is about the worst of any of the thirteen provinces and territories. On a scale of one to ten, with ten being the best, the Nova Scotia Hansard rates a 3.
• For starters, there is no arrangement allowing the viewer to choose among the Hansard records by calendar date for any session of the Legislature. For most citizens, the calendar date is a much more meaningful way to refer to a Hansard record, than to use the session/legislature format (commonly used by the formal legal indexing authorities but without meaning to anyone not an employee of the Legislature staff). For example, in the reference (below) to the earliest mention of "electronic highway", I wrote the date November 9, 1994 rather than "Day 12 of Session One of the 56th Legislature".
Compare the unintelligible organization of the Nova Scotia Hansard with the well-organized index of the Nunavut Legislature's Hansards of the Second Session (which would be even better if they would move the verbose "note about viewing these files" to the bottom of the list of dates).
My personal favourite, for the best indexing of each day's Hansard, is the well-organized, clear arrangement of the Saskatchewan Debates and Proceedings Calendar of the Fourth Session of the Twenty-Third Legislature, using calendar pages with links built into each calendar day. Clear, intuitive, and hard to beat when considered from the point of view of citizens.
A close second, for the best indexing of each day's Hansard, is the well-organized, clear arrangement of the Manitoba Debates and Proceedings Calendar of the Third Session of the Thirty-Eighth Legislature, using calendar pages with links built into each calendar day. Clear, intuitive, and hard to beat when considered from the point of view of citizens. (The reason this comes second to Saskatchewan is: This Manitoba page never gets around to mentioning what documents are indexed here. The word "Manitoba" never appears on this page, and neither does "Hansard".)
The Newfoundland and Labrador Hansard also has a clear, easy-to-use arrangement for indexing the Forty-Fifth General Assembly - Second Session - 2005-06, using calendar pages with links built into each calendar day. (But no mention anywhere of "Newfoundland and Labrador".)
British Columbia's Hansard Finals is a good, clear arrangement for providing easy and accurate access to the record for any individual day's session (which would be even better if the title was more descriptive, such as "Hansard Finals, February-March 2005"). Note that British Columbia includes, at the top, the formal identification "6th Session, 37th Parliament" for those who may need this information, but they put it in small type in recognition that, for most viewers, this is irrelevant.
• Take a look at this page from the Nova Scotia Hansard online. That way-too-dark gray background. And why the quadruple spacing after each paragraph? If you print this page, the extravagant spacing will gobble up twice as much paper as needed.
It all makes you wonder if this Hansard was trashed by a disgruntled employee. For a little while, I considered that possibility, but discarded it after applying Hanlon's Razor (never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence).
A search of the Nova Scotia Hansard for the earliest occurrence of "information highway" turned up one on November 7, 1994.
The earliest mention of "electronic highway" is on November 9, 1994. On the same day, in fact in the same motion, there is also the earliest mention of "internet".
The phrase "the most up-to-date wireless overlay on the information highway" is found in the Hansard for December 14, 1994. If you want to read that in context, it is there, but you'll have a tough time getting to it — the Hansard record for the First Session of the 56th Legislature is not available for each individual day, but instead the entire Hansard for the whole session is provided as a single HTML file, an appalling twelve megabytes that you will have to download (one more example of the morass that is the Nova Scotia Hansard online).
Later update:– It turns out that, in fact, the Hansard for each individual day of the First Session of the 56th Legislature actually is available, contrary to this statement "Prior to March 1996, no day by day option appears, but rather the full transcript of the entire session in one page" now displayed in the Search Hansard page of the Nova Scotia Hansard website. That phrase "the most up-to-date wireless overlay on the information highway" can be found in the Hansard for December 14, 1994.