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1776Re: [CCC] 1911 census

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  • Lois Sparling
    Jul 18, 2003
      For those tuning in late, "Beatty et al versus the Chief Statistician et al" was our Action in the Federal Court demanding the release of the 1906 census.  We won out of court.  The National Archives released the 1906 census online and by distributing microfilm to libraries around the country.  "Beatty versus the Chief Statistician et al" is demanding the release of the 1911 census.  I think of it as Beatty#2.  There are parallel efforts to lobby the Members of Parliament for amendments to Bill S-13.  Some of us speak of killing the Bill unless it is amended.  Others just talk about amending the Bill.  The delays we are experiencing in Beatty#2 relate to the time frame in Parliament for Bill S-13.  They want to stall the Federal Court action so Bill S-13 can be passed first.  We want to win in court before Bill S-13 passes so its limitations on census release (if any) will not effect the 1911 census.

      Dear Gordon

      Actually, while you were away, I did suggest that people send an ATI request to the National Archives, too.  This is in response to one of the arguments in the Justice Department's written argument to have our action struck out.  It is my feeling that the National Archivist has to bear SOME responsibility for the statements of his lawyers. The main thrust of their argument this time is that if the Chief Statistician has to turn over the census to the National Archivist (which they deny), then the National Archivist is not obliged to make it available to researchers.  Therefore our application has no chance of success.  Anyway, I thought the 1911 census microfilms were in a National Archives facility and that it is the legal control over those microfilm which is in dispute.

      Responses to the 1906 ATI requests don't count this time round for the 1911 census.  Administrative law has really picky requirements which tax my family law lawyer mind.  Form and procedure are REALLY important; not what I am used to.  However, I will be making exactly your argument - Mertie is aware of the Chief Statistician's public statements and position from the 1906 Action but also from the Senate debates on Bill S-13.  She is also aware that the 1911 census has not, in fact, been made available despite the National Archivists statements in a letter Professor Waiser acquired during the last round.  If that is not good enough, better to find out now so we can start another Action right away with the proof we now  have that her requests have been denied.

      I have been urged to explain about making a second formal request under the Access to Information Act.  The primary target for a formal request under the ATI (Access to Information Act) is the Chief Statistician.  Many of us have already done so and already received our rejection letters.  The next step is to send a letter of complaint to the Information Commissioner about this rejection of our legitimate request to see the 1911 census.  The Information Commissioner does an investigation, takes a formal position on the legitimacy of our requests and then, if the Chief Statistician refuses to comply, the Information Commissioner sues him in Federal Court on behalf of one or more of the complainants.  To hurry things along, I sued the federal government early last June, shortly after the 92 years was up for with holding the 1911 census.  I just used one Applicant this time.  For poetic effect, I used Mertie Beatty whose name came first in the list of Applicants for the 1906 census Action.  She also lives in Calgary and can drop by my office whenever I need her.  Although Mertie made an ATI request to the Chief Statistician to see the 1911 census, we did not wait for his reply before commencing this second Action.  The federal government is arguing that our Action was premature because we did not have the Chief Statistician's reply to her ATI request when we started and have not asked the National Archivist for his position.  These government lawyers act for both the Chief Statistician and the National Archivist and they present one position - the position of the federal government.  We, therefore, have to get over thinking of the National Archivist as our ally.  Whatever his personal feelings and opinions, he is our opponent in court and before Parliamentary committees.  

      We cannot afford to ignore the legal arguments of the government.  If they put it in writing that our Action has no chance of success because Mertie did not ask the National Archivist for access to the 1911 census, we have to react by ensuring we have a pool of potential Applicants (or Complainants under the Information Commissioner's procedures) who have met these silly, picky but possibly legal requirements.  It also serves to remind the National Archivist and others that we are committed to this cause enough to spend another $5 plus postage to respond to HIS lawyers' argument.  Remember, it is the National Archivist's own lawyer who is making this argument.

      Think of the act of sending an ATI request form to see the 1911 census to the National Archivist as the equivalent of attending a demonstration or voicing your support at a public meeting.

      The address of that lucky information and privacy co-ordinator for the National Archivist is:

      Julie Attallah
      National Archives of Canada
      395 Wellington Street, room 350
      Ottawa, Ont  K1A 0N3

      I'm sure she has nothing better to do than to process our ATI requests and draft a form letter to send back to us.  From past experience, we can hope that she, unlike Pamela White (for the Chief Statistician) will return our $5 cheques.

      Lois Sparling

      Gordon A. Watts wrote:
      Hi Norma.
      The legal beagles that oppose us will try anything -- including things
      that make no sense, and have no bearing on the matter at all.
      Merle Beatty made request to the National Archives on our last go-around
      for the 1906 records so is well aware that the National Archives does
      not have possession of them.  I would think that this fact would be an
      effective counter to this charge.  We are not at this time suggesting we
      again submit requests to the NA.
      ----- Original Message ----- 
      From: "Norma Brown" <browndm@...>
      To: "Lois Sparling" <lsparling@...>
      Cc: "Gordon A. Watts" <gordon_watts@...>
      Sent: Wednesday, July 16, 2003 5:32 AM
      Subject: Re: [CCC] 1911 census
      But aren't we all bright enough to know that the National Archivist does
      have the 1911 census! That is the problem!! I thought one applied to the
      agency possessing the information when requesting an ATI.
      The Stats Can refusal letter certainly gave no indication that we should
      also apply to the National Archivist.
      Is this just a stalling tactic from the government lawyers to drag out
      case in the calendar?
      If another ATI is truly required then we should get our letters in the
      now before the postal strike, which I think is still in the works for
      Nepean, ON
      From: Lois Sparling <lsparling@...>
      Date: Tue, 15 Jul 2003 19:38:53 -0800
      Subject: [CCC] 1911 census
      Resent-From: CANADA-CENSUS-CAMPAIGN-L@...
      Resent-Date: Tue, 15 Jul 2003 19:32:17 -0600
      I note that one of their arguments is that our Applicant
      (Mertie Beatty) has not requested access to the 1911 census from the
      National Archivist.

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