Around the Web: The Canadian War on Library and Archives Canada

The current Conservative government of Canada isn't too fond of Canadians having access to information. It's inconvenient for them because I guess a well-informed citizenry would be more likely to call them on the various shenanigans they've been indulging in.

A good general take on the situation is Allan Gregg's recent speech, 1984 in 2012 – The Assault on Reason:

I have spent my entire professional life as a researcher, dedicated to understanding the relationship between cause and effect. And I have to tell you, I’ve begun to see some troubling trends. It seems as though our government’s use of evidence and facts as the bases of policy is declining, and in their place, dogma, whim and political expediency are on the rise...

It was common knowledge that this government had little stomach for the deficit spending that followed the finance crisis of the previous years. And knowing that the public supported a return to balance budgets, it was a foregone conclusion that we were going to be presented with a fairly austere budget document. That the government intended to cut 19,000 civil servant jobs – roughly 6% of the total federal workforce – might have seemed a little draconian, but knowing what we knew, not that shocking...

Ok, so now the facts were beginning to tell a different story. This was no random act of downsizing, but a deliberate attempt to obliterate certain activities that were previously viewed as a legitimate part of government decision-making – namely, using research, science and evidence as the basis to make policy decisions. It also amounted to an attempt to eliminate anyone who might use science, facts and evidence to challenge government policies.

Part of this process has been the systematic stripping of the Canadian government's information infrastructure, starting with the downsizing of CISTI in 2009 (see the end for posts on CISTI) and now the downsizing of Library and Archives Canada.

So I don't have to rehash everything in this post, the Librarians' chapter of my union, The York University Faculty Associaiton, recently released a couple of letters which detail the changes. I reprinted and blogged about them here.

This letter by York colleague Janet Friskney representing the Bibliographical Society of Canada is also a good summary of the issues.

With this post I hope to make a contribution to the debate and discussion by documenting as many reactions to the situation at LAC as I could find.


Blogs Posts, Media Articles, etc.

As usual, if I've made any errors or if I've missed anything significant please let me know either in the comments or at jdupuis at yorku dot ca.

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