Hansard is the name given to the daily printed record of the proceedings of the Legislative Assembly. The name comes from the family, which published the parliamentary debates in Britain during the 1800's. The collection of Hansard in the Legislative Library dates back to 1951, the first time a Session of the Northwest Territories Council was held in the NWT.
When Members of the Legislative Assembly make a speech, ask a question, or participate in any way in the daily proceedings in the Chamber, a built-in microphone on their desk picks up their comments. The microphones are connected to the Hansard office, located in downtown Yellowknife. The MLA's words are recorded in the Hansard office on ten-minute cassette tapes.
When a ten-minute segment of the Session has been recorded, it is given to a transcriber, who listens to the tape and, using a computer, types everything that he/she hears on the tape. Transcribers are very fast and accurate, capable of typing 80 words per minute. The text is then edited to remove any repetitions or incorrect grammar. If the MLA has mentioned any people, companies, towns, schools, lakes and so on, the input editor does their best to write the correct names and spellings.
It takes about 20 minutes for the input editors to transcribe and edit a ten-minute segment. The text written by the transcriber is then given to a proofreader who listens to the tape and reads the text at the same time, correcting any errors made by the transcriber.
After the proofreader finishes with the ten-minute segment, a copy editor reviews it for errors and adds an appropriate title and number to each topic discussed by MLAs.
Printing the Unedited Transcript
Each day, within hours of the end of the sitting, the copy editor prints the entire day's proceedings, called the "Unedited Transcript." Numerous photocopies are made. Some are distributed to Legislative Assembly staff, but most are made available to the public. The text is also sent via computer to government offices throughout the Northwest Territories and is posted on the Legislative Assembly's Web Site at www.assembly.gov.nt.ca.
Hansard services are covered by The Rules of the Legislative Assembly, which states that the unedited transcript shall be produced daily and one copy distributed to each Member. The Members have until 10:00 a.m. of the sitting day after they receive their copy to make corrections. For example, what takes place in the House on a Monday is available in the Unedited Transcript on Tuesday and the Member has until 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday to make corrections. Members are only permitted to make grammatical changes, correct typing errors and errors due to translation. A Member may not alter the meaning of his or her statements, add an afterthought or remove a passage altogether.
After all corrections have been made, a final, edited version of Hansard is printed and sent to paid subscribers, major libraries, and select federal and territorial government offices. The edited version is also available on the Internet (a one-week delay exists).
An index, arranged by subject and by MLAs' names, is provided after each Session to make it easier to research the thousands of pages of Hansard text. After each Session, the entire text is printed and stored in leather binders, in the Library at the Legislative Assembly.