Contemporary Canadian Government & Politics:
A Practical Research Guide

Introduction   Starting   Clarifying   Bibliographies   Finding & Evaluating
Primary Sources   Special Topics   Citing Sources   Ask Your Librarian!   Detailed Table of Contents
4. Finding and Evaluating Substantive Information
Finding Information Evaluating Information

Finding Information: Current Events / News

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Although the news media may not always provide "substantive" information, they should not be dismissed as a valid source for research material. The major news media: Radio, television, newspapers, news magazines, Internet news sites, etc. are often appropriate for getting:

  • the facts: identifying the people, places, dates, issues, and other facts at the core of an event that provide clues for further research;
  • the earliest reports: of political events or government actions;
  • details: news sources often include local detail not easily found elsewhere;
  • excerpts: of interviews, speeches, quotes by politicians, government officials, etc.;
  • a reflection: of the time, showing what was considered newsworthy, how people perceived the events at the time, their opinions, etc. As such, news sources are often considered primary source material, for historical research in particular;
  • first-hand accounts: of events by an eyewitness or participant in an event(primary source material);
  • indepth analysis: newspapers in particular, but also at times other media, can provide more indepth analysis of an event like a convention or election than other sources.
For Government News Sites and News Releases see Part 5: Selected Primary Sources: What’s Happening Now - In Government

NOTE: For various reasons, news sources need to be used with caution. The accuracy of the information is not always reliable. Articles are not necessarily well researched; facts and sources are not always checked and rarely cited. Information may be biased by the reporter's personal interpretation, the "story" or angle required for the assignment, or the political slant of the newspaper's owners. Editorials and other opinion pieces should be taken as just opinion, not fact.
Back to the Top Digests Indexes Web Sites News Site Gateways
Full-text News Databases:

These are electronic databases of news sources, most available on the web, available by subscription. Contents vary depending on the subscription package chosen. Check your library for their holdings.

NOTE: Most electronic news databases do not provide full historical coverage. Print and microfilmed versions of Canadian newspapers from the late 1940's on are available in most research libraries. Search library catalogues by the title of the newspaper to see the holdings available.

Canadian News Disc. Southam Electronic.
Description: CD-ROM database. Text only version of major articles from Canadian news sources.
Coverage: Varies by title. 1992 - . Updated quarterly.
Includes: Selected Canadian newspapers, CTV and CBC television news transcripts.
Tips: Limit searches to the first paragraph for fewer and more relevant hits.
Canadian Newsstand. Micromedia Proquest.
Description: Text (articles, features, columns and editorials) of over 100 Canadian newspapers.
Coverage: Varies by title. 1980's - . Updated daily, some with a 7-day delay.
Includes: Selected Canadian newspapers.
Tips: Can be limited to major Canadian dailies or regional papers only.
CBCA Current Events. (Subset of Canadian Business and Current Affairs) Micromedia ProQuest.
Description: 50 Canadian news sources on current events including politics.
Coverage: Varies by title. From late 1970's to the present. Updated daily. Most newspapers with a 7-day delay.
Includes: Newspapers, newswires, newsmagazines, television and radio transcripts.
Tips: This is one of the best and largest Canadian news databases available.
Globe and Mail: Canada's Heritage from 1844. Micromedia Proquest.
Description: Digital archive of Canada's national newspaper.
Coverage: Globe and Mail from June 1844 - present (with 4 year delay).
Includes: All articles and graphics. Virtual News Library. CEDROM SNi.
Description: Text only database of local and national newspapers and other news sources.
Coverage: 1985 - . Varies by title. Updated daily.
Includes: French and English-language newspapers, television and radio news transcripts, newswires.
Tips: Subscribers can select subsets by region, etc.
Toronto Star: Pages of the Past. Toronto Star Newspapers Ltd. Details at:
Description: Scanned and digitized version of this major Canadian daily in .pdf format.
Coverage: 1892 to the end of 2001. (Missing issues: Nov. 1892-Dec. 1893.)
Includes: All articles and graphics.
Tips: Some pages may be too difficult to read as they were scanned from microfilm. See the microfilm version available in most large libraries.
Back to the Top Full-text Indexes Web Sites News Site Gateways
News Digests:
Canadian News Facts: The Indexed Digest of Canadian Current Events. Toronto: MPL Communications Inc., 1967 - .
Description: Summarizes the major news stories from a select number of newspapers across Canada.
Coverage: 1967 to the present. Updated biweekly.
Includes: Selected Canadian newspapers.
Tips: Use the subject index included.
Ottawa Letter. Don Mills, ON: CCH Canadian, 1965 - .
Description: A digest of current events on Parliament Hill.
Coverage: 1965 to the present. Updated weekly.
Includes: Includes a weekly table of progress of bills and monthly federal legislative record.
Tips: Use the subject index.
Back to the Top Full-text Digests Web Sites News Site Gateways
News Indexes:

Note that the full-text databases listed above are all searchable and therefore function as indexes as well. The following are selected major newspaper indexes which index several papers. Use the Checklist of Indexes (below) to find others.

Checklist of Indexes to Canadian Newspapers held by the National Library of Canada.
Description: Use this checklist to see if your town’s newspaper is indexed, and for which dates. Provides Internet links to indexes where available.
Coverage: 18th century to the present.
Includes: Indexes to local, regional and national newspapers.
Tips: Searchable by province, title of newspaper or title of index. If not online, indexes can be requested by interlibrary loan through your library.
Canadian Index. (Was Canadian Newspaper Index 1977-1979, Canadian News Index, 1980-1992, 1993 merged with two magazine indexes.) Toronto: Micromedia, 1977 - 2001.
Description: Indexes a select number of Canadian daily newspapers and magazines.
Coverage: 1977 - 2001. Updated monthly, with annual or semi-annual cumulations.
Includes: Titles indexed vary over time. Newspapers include Montreal Star, Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Vancouver Sun, Winnipeg Free Press.
Index de l'Actualité. (Formerly Index de l'Actualité vues à travers la presse écrite) Westmount, Quebec: InformII-Microfor. 1972 - 1998.
Description: Indexes 4 Quebec newspapers: Le Devoir, Le Journal de Montréal, La Presse, Le Soleil.
Coverage:1987 - 1998. Updated monthly with annual cumulations.
Back to the Top Full-text Digests Indexes News Site Gateways
Selected News Web Sites:
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is the largest news gathering organization in Canada. The main page of the web site features news stories of the day. You can subscribe to receive CBC news digests and alerts by e-mail.
See CBC News Indepth for background information on some of the major news stories. Some of the popular feature stories from The National can be viewed in the Archives. Transcripts are also available for purchase.
The House: The Week in National Politics.
This is a CBC radio show covering national politics, aired Saturday mornings. The latest program and archives from May 1999 on are available in RealAudio.
CBC's French-language network has news headlines and searchable archives of news stories.
The Globe and Mail and The National Post
These are Canada's two national newspapers. Available online for free are selected articles from today's paper and a searchable archive of one week. More is available for subscribers.
NOTE: If your topic is a regional one (outside of Central Canada) or local, check the major dailies from the region and the local newspapers as well.
The Hill Times: Canada's Politics and Government Newsweekly.
Published in Ottawa since 1989, this independently-owned weekly paper (available in print and online) covers federal politics and the federal government. Besides news stories, op-eds and updates on the status of legislation, features include "policy briefings" highlighting a current public policy issue with an interview of the Minister in charge, and a parliamentary calendar. Not all areas of the web site are accessible without a subscription.
Back to theTop Full-text Digests Indexes Web Sites
Some of the Best News Site Gateways:
Canadian Newspapers. JournalismNet. By Julian Sher.
A collection of links to Canadian newspapers by region. Also has links to other large collections of online newspapers, searchable news archives, and online news magazines.
Daily Newspapers in Canada. Canadian Newspaper Association.
Links to the web sites of Canadian daily newspapers. Organized by province.
News Sites. Library and Archives Canada.
Links to Canadian newspapers include some indexes, provincial newspapers, student, satirical, native and ethnic papers.

For Government News Sites and News Releases see Part 5: Selected Primary Sources: What’s Happening Now - In Government
Scholarly Research Analysis & Reports Books Other Academic Works
Government Information Political Party Information Research Organizations Videos
Finding Information Evaluating Information
Back to the Top
Introduction   Starting   Clarifying   Bibliographies   Finding & Evaluating
Primary Sources   Special Topics   Citing Sources   Ask Your Librarian!   Detailed Table of Contents

Prepared and maintained by Anita Cannon, Librarian
R. P. Bell Library   Mount Allison University   Mount Allison Centre for Canadian Studies
Last Updated: January 4, 2008