Contemporary Canadian Government & Politics:
A Practical Research Guide

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2. Clarification and Direction: Finding the Facts
Introduction Definitions Facts & Figures Overview & Background Information

Facts & Figures:

General Facts Dates People Places Statistics Finding Statistics

Brief factual and statistical information may be found by using one or more of the following specialized reference sources. These include directories for contact information, sources giving election results, details on ridings, biographical information, important dates, sources that describe and help locate relevant places, that explain the structure of government, and that provide general statistics.


Back to the Top Dates People Places Statistics Finding Statistics
General Facts about Canadian Government and Politics:
Under "General Facts" are listed sources that provide contact information, details on the structure of government, election results, etc. as well as broader sources that may also cover important dates, people, places and statistics.

About Canada. Official Canadian Government site. http://www.canada.gc.ca/acanada/ViewCategory.htm?lang=eng
See section on "Government" for brief decscriptions of Canada's government structure, history, etc.
About Parliament. Parliamentary Internet Site. Created and maintained by the Senate, the House of Commons and the Library of Parliament. http://www.parl.gc.ca/
Click on "About Parliament", then "A-Z Index" for easy subject access to lots of information on the Canadian Parliament, elections, etc. Selected sources are listed separately in this guide under appropriate headings but there is much more here and more is being added quite regularly. An excellent place to start for basic general facts about Parliament.
The Almanac of Canadian Politics. By Munroe Eagles, et al. 2nd ed. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1995. 765 p.
Profiles all 295 federal constituencies with an overview of the regions written by political science professors. 1988 and 1993 federal election results and the Constitutional Referendum vote in 1992 are provided for each riding with socio-economic statistics on the population for each. Appendices include an alphabetical list of candidates and campaign calendar of tours and leaders’ appearances in the 1993 election.
Canada Votes, 1935-1988. By Frank Feigert. Durham: Duke University Press, 1989. 216 p.
Provides the number of votes and the percentage of votes each party received, by riding.
Canadian Almanac and Directory. Toronto: IHS/Micromedia. 1848 -- . Annual.
Includes a section on government with addresses, phone numbers, web sites, etc. for federal, provincial, and municipal government departments and agencies.
Also available on CD-ROM.
Canadian Guide of Leadership and Electoral History, 1867-1997. Ed. by Wayne Madden. Fort McMurray, AB: W.D. Madden. 1998. 160 p. (and Analytical Supplement. 83 p.)
Provides lists of Prime Ministers, Governor Generals, Opposition Leaders, Speakers, numbers of each party in Senate and the House of Commons, provincial Premiers, election results and votes won since 1886 by major parties. The supplement adds governing second and third parties in federal and provincial general elections, the strength of government and opposition parties, and compares these across all jurisdictions.
Canadian Parliamentary Guide. Scarborough, ON: Gale Canada. 1909 -- . Annual.
Has federal and provincial election results from 1867 on and information on federal and provincial legislators.
Canadian Parliamentary Handbook. By John Bejermi. Ottawa, ON: Borealis Press. 1982 -- . Annual.
Bilingual listing of contact information and brief biographical information on Members of Senate, House of Commons, Governor General, etc. More general information includes the parliamentary process, Table of Precedence for Canada, Table of Titles used in Canada, alphabetical constituency listing and election results for each constituency.
Canadian Political Facts, 1945-1976. By Colin Campbell. Toronto: Methuen, 1977. 151 p.
A compilation of facts from various sources, for the stated years only.
Collins Dictionary of Canadian History: 1867 to the Present. By David J. Bercuson and J. L. Granatstein. Toronto: Collins, 1988. 270 p.
More than just a dictionary, brief entries describe people, institutions and events. Appendices list government officials, various statistics and election results.
Compendium of Procedure. (Formerly "Précis of Procedure" and House of Commons fact sheets.) http://www.parl.gc.ca/compendium/web-content/c_a_index-e.htm
Brief articles and fact sheets describe procedures in the House of Commons and its committees.
Elections Canada web site. http://www.elections.ca
This is the official source for a great deal of information on elections and political parties in Canada. The Elections Canada web site has the official voting results (poll by poll) of recent federal elections and by-elections, voter turn-out at elections and referendums, rules on elections financing, election handbook for candidates, many publications including Backgrounders on election-related issues, and much more. Registered parties are listed with their financial reports, contact information and links to their web sites. Electoral district associations across Canada are listed with contact information. The electoral district database allows you to search for your electoral district by postal code, keyword, candidate, place name, or by using a map. Additional information frequently added.
The Electoral System of Canada Ottawa: Elections Canada, 2007. 2nd. ed. 56 p.
Describes how the political and electoral system works in Canada. Appendices include a chronology of election milestones, a list of all Parliaments and Prime Ministers, distribution of seats in the House of Commons from 1867-2006, voter turnout, and a map of the 39th election results.
Fitzhenry and Whiteside Book of Canadian Facts and Dates. Edited by Richard W. Pound. 3rd ed. updated & enlarged. Markham, ON: Fitzhenry and Whiteside, 2005. 987 p.
A chronology of Canadian facts from prehistory to the present. Has a subject and name index in the back.
Government Contacts. http://canada.gc.ca/directories/direct_e.html
Links are provided to directories for government telephone numbers, e-mail addresses and service centres. From here you can also find your Member of Parliament by riding, Member's name or your postal code.
Government Web Sites
Almost all federal government departments, agencies, boards and commissions have their own official web sites with a brief descriptive statement on what they do, their mandate, mission statement, an overview and/or background information.

If you know the names of the federal departments you are looking for, you can link to them from the Primary Canadian Government Web Site

If you are unsure which federal government departments and agencies deal with a certain topic, search the Canadian Government Information on the Internet site which organizes federal government information by broad subject categories. For more detailed “subject” access, read the abstracts describing the information provided for each site, or use your Internet browser’s FIND function to search by keyword within a federal subject category. NOTE: Not updated after 2002.
Guide to Canadian Ministries since Confederation, July 1, 1867 - Febrary 1, 1982. Public Archives Canada and Government of Canada Privy Council Office, 1982. 200 p.
Updated by:
Ledoux, Denise. (Updated by the Dissemination Section). Guide to Canadian Ministries since Confederation: Supplement 1980-2000. Ottawa: Library of Parliament, Information & Documentation Branch, 2000.
Cumulative version: (1867-present) available from Privy Council Office web site: http://www.pco-bcp.gc.ca See under "Information Resources".

A chronological list of ministries since Confederation with names and dates of the minister responsible. The appendix has an alphabetical list of names with a summary of the positions they have held. Useful for finding out which ministries existed at a previous time, what they were called and ministers responsible.
History of Departments 1867 to Date. By Library of Parliament Information and Documentation Branch. http://www.parl.gc.ca/information/about/related/Federal/DepHist.asp?lang=E
Data compiled from several sources show when federal Ministries (excluding Ministries of State) were created, changed names, merged or were abolished. The names of Ministers responsible and dates of their service are also given.
History of the Federal Electoral Ridings Since 1867. By Library of Parliament Information and Documentation Branch. http://www.parl.gc.ca/information/about/process/house/hfer/hfer.asp?Language=E
This databases includes names of all the candidates and descriptions of all the ridings, in federal elections since Confederation. You can search by riding name, candidate, political party, general election or by-election.
House of Commons Procedure and Practice. Edited by Robert Marleau and Camille Montpetit. Ottawa: House of Commons and Montreal: Chenelière/McGraw-Hill, 2000. 1152 p. Online version: http://www.parl.gc.ca/MarleauMontpetit/DocumentViewer.aspx?Lang=E
Listed as a “key textbook” but also has 15 appendices that provide general election results from 1867 to 1997, a list of Prime Ministers, Leaders of the Official Opposition, Speakers, and Party Leaders in the House of Commons. Its detailed and cross-referenced index also makes it useful as a quick reference tool for just about any fact on Parliamentary procedure in Canada.
InfoSource: Directory of Federal Government Enquiry Points. (Formerly Access Register)
Print: 1983 - . Annual. Ottawa: Treasury Board Secretariat.
Internet: http://www.infosource.gc.ca/enq-ctr/enq-ctr00_e.asp
Has contact information for all federal departments and agencies and a list of names and abbreviations used for most federal organizations.
InfoSource: Sources of Federal Government Information.
Print: 1983 - . Annual. Ottawa: Treasury Board Secretariat.
Internet: http://www.infosource.gc.ca/fed/fed00_e.asp
Has descriptions of federal government departments and agencies, how they are organized, their mandate, the legislation they administer, and the information they collect.
Inside Canada's Parliament: An Introduction to how the Canadian Parliament Works. Ottawa: Library of Parliament, 2000. 40 p.
Internet: http://www.parl.gc.ca/Information/library/inside/index-e.htm
A brief guide to how Parliament works, explaining some of the behind-the-scenes work as well as the basics.
Leadership Conventions. http://www.parl.gc.ca/
Click on "About Parliament", then "A-Z Index", then select "Leadership Conventions". For each major party, candidates are listed with the number of votes they received.
The Ministry and its Responsibilities. By Library of Parliament Information and Documentation Branch. http://www.parl.gc.ca/information/about/related/Federal/Agency.asp?lang=E&Agency=M
This page links to the web sites of all current federal Ministries and the agencies, boards and commissions for which they are responsible.
Population Affiliation Report. Canada Public Service Agency. http://www.psagency-agencefp.gc.ca/pas-srp/overview-apercu_e.asp
This site gives the number of employees and the ministerial affiliation of all current federal government departments, agencies, Crown corporations and special operating agencies, including ones now defunct or privatized.
Scott's Canadian Sourcebook. Don Mills, Ont.: Southam Inc. 1966 - . Annual. (Formerly Corpus Almanac and Canadian Sourcebook.)
Has the same kind of information as Canadian Almanac and Directory.
Structure of the Government of Canada. http://canada.gc.ca/howgoc/glance_e.html
Links are provided to the web sites of and information on the Sovereign, the Governor General, Parliament, Senate, House of Commons, Prime Minister, Cabinet, Judiciary, and Acts and Regulations.
See also General Facts in Special Topics.
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Dates:
Important dates in contemporary government and politics will be found in many sources including some listed above under "General Facts". The following are specifically useful for finding dates:

Canada, 875-1973: A Chronology and Fact Book. Edited by Brian H.W. Hill. Dobbs Ferry, NY: Oceana Publications, 1973. 152 p.
The first part of the book is a chronology of events related to the shaping of Canada as a nation from 875-1973. Also contains reprints of some early Constitutional documents.
How Ottawa Spends. Toronto: J. Lorimer, 1983 – . Annual.
A new feature starting with the 1998/99 volume is Appendix A: Canadian Political Facts and Trends. It provides a chronology of key Canadian political events (federal and provincial) based on news reports published in The Globe and Mail.
Key Dates for Each Parliament: 1867 to Date. http://www.parl.gc.ca/information/about/process/info/parl-dates.asp?lang=E&Hist=Y
For each Parliament, this table gives dates for when writs were issued, general elections held, writs to be returned, first sitting, dissolution, and the duration between return of writs and dissolution. Separate tables also show the duration of minority and majority governments.
Parliaments: 1867 to Date. http://www.parl.gc.ca/information/about/process/info/Parliament.asp?lang=E
The tables provided here show the start and end dates of each Parliament and each session, the number of sittings in the House of Commons and Senate per session, and the dates of prorogation, dissolution and openings of Parliaments from 1867 to date.
"Timeline of Canadian History", in The Canadian Encyclopedia. http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCETimeline&Params=A3
This database is searchable by date range or keyword. Browsable categories include: "Acts & Treaties", "Elections & Prime Ministers", "Politics & Government".
See also Special Topics.
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People:
Brief biographical sketches can be found in many places. The kinds of facts usually available in directories include the person’s birth and death dates, professional experience and honours, address, and sometimes family and social connections. Biographies and autobigraphies give the fullest details.
For tips on contacting people in government and politics see Part 5: What's Happening Now -- Contacting People

Canadian Ministry (Cabinet). http://webinfo.parl.gc.ca/MembersOfParliament/MainCabinetCompleteList.aspx?TimePeriod=Current&Language=E
The official Parliamentary web site lists here each current Minister, with contact information, photograph and brief description of political experience. Also here: lists of Chair Occupants, Members of Parliament and their constituencies, Candidates, etc., both current and historical.
Canadian Parliamentary Guide. Scarborough, Ont.: Gale Canada, 1909 – . Annual.
Has very concise biographies of members of federal and provincial/territorial governments, federal Superior courts, Privy Council, Governor General’s office, and Parliament.

Also has election results from 1867 on and the results of the most recent provincial elections.
Canadian Parliamentary Handbook. By John Bejermi. Ottawa: Borealis Press, 1982 - . Annual.
A bilingual source for brief biographies with photograph and contact information for Members of the Senate and House of Commons, and the Governor General. Also includes lists of Cabinet Ministers, Parliamentary Secretaries, Table of Precedence, Table of Titles used in Canada, and more.
Canadian Who's Who. Edited by Elizabeth Lumley. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1910 -. Annual. Also on CD-ROM.
This biographical dictionary of prominent Canadian men and women provides a brief sketch including address, date and place of birth, profession, education, list of honours and achievements, leisure interests, and social memberships, for approximately 15,000 notable living Canadians “selected for inclusion on the basis of merit and position”.

Index volume covers 1898-1984.

1997 edition available on the Internet   -  http://www.utpress.utoronto.ca/cgi-bin/cw2w3.cgi

Includes over 15,000 prominent Canadians; searchable by name, birth date, city, or any keyword in the full text. Limitations: no more than 10 matches displayed; addresses deleted; search fields cannot be combined.
Contemporary Canadian Biographies. Scarborough, ON: Gale Canada, 1998 - . Annual. CD-ROM

Directory of Political Scientists in Canada. Ottawa: Canadian Political Science Association (CPSA). Annual.
This directory provides names, brief biographical information and subject specialization of members of CPSA and La Société québécoise de science politique. Also has a list of university political science departments and graduate programs in Canada.
First Among Equals: The Prime Minister in Canadian Life and Politics. http://www.nlc-bnc.ca/primeministers/
A bilingual site by the National Library of Canada provides details on the political careers and private lives of all of Canada's Prime Ministers, including the text of selected speeches on various topics. The site is geared to a Grade 4-6 audience with online games and resources for teachers.
List of Former Governors General. Governor General of Canada. http://www.gg.ca/governor_general/history/histgg_e.asp
For each former governor general there is a portrait, dates in office and a brief biographical sketch.
Macmillan Dictionary of Canadian Biography. Edited by W. Steward Wallace. 4th ed. Revised and updated by W. A. McKay. Toronto: Macmillan, 1978. 914 p.
Has brief biographies of prominent Canadians who died before 1976.
Memorable Canadians. Library and Archives Canada. http://www.collectionscanada.ca/8/2/index-e.html
Select "Subject Index - Politics" to see all political entries, or "Name Index" if looking for a specific person. This site brings together all the digitized biographical information on the large Library and Archives site. Most entries include a photograph, brief biography and source list for more detailed biographies.
Opposition Party Critics. Library of Parliament. Parliamentary Internet Site. http://www2.parl.gc.ca/Parlinfo/Compilations/HouseOfCommons/MinistryMembers.aspx
Opposition party critics are listed under their areas of responsibility, with the Parliamentary Secretary and Members of Cabinet. Click on the name for contact information, a brief profile and links to their personal and/or party web sites.
(Note: See "Opposition" under the A-Z Index at the parliamentary site for more: opposition whips, house leaders, etc.)
Party Leaders. Library of Parliament. Parliamentary Internet Site. http://www2.parl.gc.ca/Parlinfo/AboutParliamentIndex.aspx?Language=E#L
See "Leaders" under the A-Z Index at the parliamentary site for lists, from the date of the party's founding, of all federal party leaders, their terms, and links to a brief profile with photograph. Other links include "Leadership Conventions", showing the percentage of votes received by each leader in the last convention.
The Prime Ministers of Canada: Intimate Portraits of the Nation's Leaders. By 7th Floor Media, funded by Rogers Communications Inc. http://www.primeministers.ca/index.php
This site presents photographs and a brief biography for each of Canada's prime ministers. For a selection of the most important prime ministers there are contributions and analysis by historians, colleagues and journalists including graphics and audio files, exploring the person and the major issues they faced.
Senators and Members. Parliamentary Internet Site. http://www.parl.gc.ca/
Select "Senators and Members" from the tool bar at the top of the screen. This site provides a photograph, where available, and a brief biographical sketch listing mainly their political experience, for each current and past Member of the Senate, House of Commons and the Cabinet.
Who's Who in America. Chicago: Marquis. 1922 -. Annual.
Brief biographical entries on over 80,000 contemporary people from Canada, Mexico, and the United States.
Who's Who in Canada. Toronto: Global Press. 1922 - . Annual.
Over 2,000 brief sketches, with photographs, mostly of people in business and government.
Who's Who of Canadian Women. Toronto: Who's Who Publications and Chatelaine magazine. 1983 -- . Annual. Also on CD-ROM.
Best source of brief biographical information for thousands of Canadian women chosen based on merit. All fields are searchable on the CD-ROM.
Note: Major Biographies (Books about People)
Biographies about politicians are a form of historical writing that can make the history of a party or government more interesting by combining it with the human interest of the personal life of the subject and their experiences.

Find these using a library catalogue: Enter the person's last name as a subject (e.g. Trudeau, Pierre) or do a keyword search combining the person's name and the word biography (e.g. Trudeau and biography).
Shorter biographies can also be published as articles in journals and magazines.
See Part 4 on finding articles for a selection of indexes to use to search for these kinds of articles.

TIP: Search for the person as a subject when possible, as a keyword search of a well-known figure will retrieve far too many hits.
Biography Sites on the Internet:
If the biographical sources listed do not provide information or not enough information on the person you are studying, try an Internet search engine to find any web sites that might have been set up with information on the person. Many libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural institutions are digitizing information from their collections. For the present, there is no one index, or single place to look to find them all, so an Internet-wide search using a generic search engine such as google.ca is required.
TIPS: Use a search engine that allows you to limit results to Canadian sites. Make sure you know the search rules for each search engine you use. Read the search tips!
For an example of one collection of information on a Canadian political figure see: http://gateway.uvic.ca/schoolnet/digicol/pearkes/default.html
the SchoolNet Project site on George R. Pearkes, with archival material from the University of Victoria Archives and Special Collections.

Make sure you know how to evaluate what you might find if you do an Internet-wide search, as you are sure to find several sources that are not reliable or suitable for use in research. See Evaluating Information: Internet Sites.
Autobiographies (Biographies written by a person about themselves):
This form of biographical writing, because it comes directly from the source, is considered primary source material. It may not be based on the kind of research a biography is, but it will likely provide more personal insights and details. See Using Primary Source Material - Personal Papers.
See also People in Special Topics.
Back to the Top General Facts Dates People Statistics Finding Statistics
Places
When researching an event that took place in a specific electoral riding, community, or larger area, it can be very helpful to consult a map, atlas or gazetteer to get a clear idea of the actual location and size of the place. A map, or graphic presentation of a place, can also be a useful addition to your research paper.
Atlas of Canada Online. http://atlas.gc.ca
Select a map by theme, search for current and historical maps by keyword, or browse a list of maps available. This site includes interactive political maps of Canada showing political divisions, federal election results, etc. The 37th Federal Election for example, is a colourful map showing party distribution across Canada after the 2000 election. You can zoom in to see individual ridings and get statistics on each riding including the party and candidate elected, number of votes, electors, valid and rejected votes, and distribution of votes among parties.
Electoral Districts, Elections Canada Web Site. http://www.elections.ca/
Click on Electoral Districts to search by candidate, place name, district keyword, postal code, province, or by clicking on a larger map, to see a map of each of 301 federal electoral districts or ridings in Canada during the latest federal election. There is also a map of the 308 new electoral districts created by the 2003 redistribution process and lots of information on the redistribution.
Gazetteer of Canada. (One for each province) and Concise Gazetteer of Canada. Ottawa: Natural Resources Canada. Irregular.
Useful for locating places, for finding out which larger geopolitical unit a smaller place is a part (e.g. which county a town is in), etc.
GeoConnections. By Canadian Geospatial Data Infrastructure (CGDI) http://www.geoconnections.org
A Finding Aid for Canadian maps and the data on which they are based, this site brings together information on Canadian geospatial databases including topographical maps, air photos, satellite images, nautical and aeronautical charts, census and electoral areas, forestry, soil, marine and biodiversity inventories.
See also Places in Special Topics.
Back to the Top General Facts Dates People Places Finding Statistics
Statistics:
The government, particularly the federal government, is the largest gatherer and publisher of statistics in Canada. Statistics Canada is Canada's official statistical agency and the main source for demographic, economic, and social statistics. There are many other sources for statistics depending on the topic. Data collected by Statistics Canada and government departments, agencies, boards and commissions, are the major sources of information for the government's policy research.
TIPS: Using statistics to help make a point or show a trend can be very effective if done well. Always read the fine print (footnotes, preface, etc.) that qualifies and explains the methodology and limitations of the statistics you use. This includes the currency of the data, definitions of terms, etc.

When quoting statistics, always give the source! Readers cannot be expected to believe a statistic if the source is not documented. (You should not be using it yourself, if you have not verified it to be from a reliable source and relevant in your context.)

The following are some of the major sources of statistical information. See also "General Facts" above for election statistics among others, and Special Topics for provincial, municipal and more topic-specific statistics.

Canada Year Book. Ottawa: Statistics Canada, 1867 – . Annual. Also on CD-ROM, 1995 – and online version: "Canada e-Book" 2001 - . http://www43.statcan.ca
This is a popular statistical review of Canada’s resources, people, institutions, social and economic conditions. Chapters on government and the legal system have basic, introductory information. Tables show sources (use Statistics Canada Catalogue numbers to find more detailed data or more related statistics).
Canadian Election Study. By Universities of Montreal, McGill and Toronto. http://www.ces-eec.umontreal.ca/index.html
This is a large survey of Canadian voters that tries to find out why voters vote the way they do. This site makes available the questionnaires (in pdf) and data sets in SPSS format. Surveys available here cover the elections of 1997, 2000, 2004 and 2006. Earlier years (1984, 1988, 1993 and the 1992 Referendum on the Charlottetown Accord) are available on the York University Institute for Social Research web site.
CANSIM (Canadian Socio-Economic Information Management database). http://www.statcan.ca/english/ads/cansimII/index.htm
This is the largest database of Canadian statistical data. It contains over 18 million time series of Canadian social and economic statistics including national accounts, social conditions, trade, and much more. Time series can start as early as 1901 and are updated to the present unless discontinued. On the Statistics Canada web site the database can be searched for free but there is a fee for any data downloaded. Most university libraries in Canada subscribe to CANSIM. Students and faculty at these universities should make sure to access CANSIM via the library's subscription web site.

Guides to using CANSIM:

CANSIM User Guide. Statistics Canada. http://cansim2.statcan.ca/training/training.htm

CANSIM: The Many Faces. By Laine Ruus, University of Toronto, Data Library Service. http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/datalib/codebooks/cstdli/cansim.htm

Census. (Statistics Canada web site http://www.statcan.ca, print and CD-ROM)
Select "Census" for the latest Census data on the Canadian population, such as ethnic origin, language, level of education, income, etc. searchable by topic or geography. See "Federal Electoral District Profile" for a demographic profile of any riding in Canada. This can be used to show voting patterns. More variables and smaller geographic areas may be found in the print, CD-ROM and other electronic versions depending on the Census year.

Guides to using Census data:

2006 Census Reference Material (Census Dictionary, Handbook, etc.) http://www12.statcan.ca/english/census06/reference/index.cfm

2001 Census Reference (Census Dictionary, Handbook, Technical Reports and User Guides). http://www12.statcan.ca/english/census01/home/index.cfm

1996 Census Handbook and related reference material. http://www12.statcan.ca/english/census01/info/census96.cfm

The Daily. Statistics Canada. http://www.statcan.ca/english/dai-quo/
This is where Statistics Canada data are first released. Available 8:30 a.m. each working day, the Daily provides news releases announcing new data with source and contact information for more details.
E-STAT. Statistics Canada. http://estat.statcan.ca/
Designed for school use, this web site provides selections of data from CANSIM, Census Profile data from 1986 on, election results by province and electoral district from 1997 on, and more. This site provides an easy-to-use interface to a variety of statistical sources. Free to registered educational institutions.

Guides to using E-STAT:

E-STAT User Guides. http://www.statcan.ca/english/Estat/guide/guide.htm

Historical Statistics of Canada. 2nd ed. Ottawa: Statistics Canada & Social Science Federation of Canada, 1983. Cat. No. 11-516. Print and Internet. http://www.statcan.ca/english/freepub/11-516-XIE/sectiona/toc.htm
This is a large compilation of political, social, and economic statistics from 1867 to 1975 with brief analyses of trends and issues at the beginning of each section. Section Y: "Politics and Government" includes many tables of information on elections, parliaments, politicians, etc. compiled from a variety of sources. Internet version available in html, csv (comma delimited), and Adobe Acrobat files.
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Finding Statistics:
Most statistics published are gathered by governments. Statistics Canada, as the official statistical agency of Canada, publishes the most, but all other government departments and levels of government publish some as well. You will find these statistics in many different kinds of documents including annual reports, research papers, and on government web sites. See Part 4: Finding Government Information for more detail on finding possible sources.

For non-governmental sources of statistics see publications and web sites of associations, polling groups, think tanks, research institutes, etc. See Part 4: Finding Information: Research from Policy Institutes, Think Tanks, and Other Organizations for more detail on these sources.

TIP: Think of who might have an interest in the statistics you are looking for, and who would be in a position to gather them, before starting your search.

Finding Aids:

Library Catalogues: In most university library catalogues (those using the Library of Congress Classification System), you can search using the subject heading for your topic with the sub-heading: “ - statistics”. (e.g. Political parties - Canada - statistics)

For a broader search and to make sure you don’t miss any books because of other sub-headings that might precede “statistics”, search by keyword in the subject field combining keywords for your topic with the word “statistics”. (NOTE: The "keywords" you choose must be words used in LCSH Subject headings or sub-headings. e.g. political parties and statistics)

None of the above searches will be 100% effective since to be classified with the sub-heading “statistics” a book has to have statistics as a major component. Many publications may still contain lots of interesting statistics and not be classified in this way.

Statistics Canada Catalogue. Ottawa: Statistics Canada, 1922-1994. Irregular. Print edition replaced by Internet version: Online Catalogue of Products and Services. http://www.statcan.ca/english/search/ips.htm
The online version is a keyword-searchable catalogue of current Statistics Canada data in all formats with links to the publications that are available on the Internet. Most print publications are available in depository libraries. Check your university's library catalogue.
Statistics Canada Library Catalogue (Bibliocat). http://www.statcan.ca/english/biblionet/index.htm
Bibliocat includes records for the complete collection of Statistics Canada publications, current and historic, in all formats, and some additional related publications.
Canadian Research Index. Toronto: Micromedia ProQuest, 1973 – . Monthly. (Formerly Microlog, Publicat, Profile, etc.) Available in print, CD-ROM and online by subscription.
This is an index to monograph and annual publications "of research value" from local, provincial and federal governments in Canada and from research institutions. Includes statistical reports.

Guides to Finding and Using Statistics:

Finding and Using Statistics: A Key Source of Information on Canada and Canadians. Statistics Canada. http://www.statcan.ca/english/freepub/11-533-XIE/free.htm

This is a brief guide to Statistics Canada data covering sources and research tips.
Finding Canadian Statistics. By Laine Ruus, University of Toronto Data Library Service. http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/datalib/other/findcans.htm
This is the most useful guide to Canadian statistics available, with helpful advice and links to available sources and a list of statistical sources by topic.

Evaluating Statistics:

Best, Joel. Damned Lies and Statistics: Untangling Numbers from the Media, Politicians, and Activists. Berkeley: U. of California Press, 2001.

The author, a sociology professor, uses examples from contemporary public policy issues to show how important it is to evaluate statistical information. See in particular: "Characteristics of Good Statistics" p.59-61, where he sums up the major issues to consider when evaluating statistics: the method used to gather the statistics, definitions of terms, what is being measured, and the sample.

The sequel: More Damned Lies and Statistics: How Numbers Confuse Public Issues. Berkeley: U. of California Press, 2004, provides more examples of common misleading uses of statistics and advice on critical evaluation.

See also Statistics in Special Topics.
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Last Updated: January 4, 2008
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