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Bill S-13 Considered

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  • Rene Dussome
    Hello Everyone: Many thanks to listers who have already sent in ATI forms and to others who are preparing to do so. The following message contains my own
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 11, 2003
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      Hello Everyone:

      Many thanks to listers who have already sent in ATI forms and to others
      who are preparing to do so.

      The following message contains my own personal thoughts about Bill S-13,
      An Act to amend the Statistics Act, which is currently before the House
      of Commons. As Gordon Watts is fond of saying, "I stand to be
      corrected."

      Having read FOR THE FIRST TIME the official wording of Bill S-13 can I
      urge other listers to do the same?

      To do this go to the AFHS website - www.afhs.ab.ca - and click on Bill
      S-13. You will find this link included in the feature article on the
      home page entitled, "1911 Census Challenge."

      At the bottom of the page click on "First Reading" then click "Next" and
      then click "Bill S-13." You should now be able to read the full text of
      the bill.

      My personal comments are:

      Clause 1(4) specifies that " . . . any census of population taken
      between
      1910 and 2003 may, starting ninety-two years after the census is taken,
      be examined by . . . "

      The genealogical community believes that at least the 1911 and 1916
      census records should be released without restriction, on the same basis
      as those for 1906. The 1911 and 1916 censuses were conducted under the
      same legislation and similar Instructions to Enumerators as was the 1906
      census. As we know, records of the 1906 census have been released
      without restrictions of any kind and have been placed online.

      Clause 1(4)(a) is the clause that will impact most of us directly. This
      allows us " . . . to conduct genealogical research . . . " on our own
      behalf " . . . or, where authorized by another person, on behalf of that
      other person, . . . " provided that we sign an undertaking.

      Note: The proposed undetaking has not been officially published so we
      are left in the dark as to its wording.

      Clause 1(4)(b) is more onerous as it requires "a person wishing to
      conduct historical research . . . " to have " . . . their research
      project approved by a person who is a member of a category of 20 persons
      prescribed by regulation, and . . . sign an undertaking . . . "

      I have not seen a complete list of the 20 persons referred to above but
      I believe they are all important people with heavy responsibilities in
      the
      community, such as the mayor of a city.

      Clause 1(5) requires that person before approving an historical research
      project to " . . . assess the public and scientific value of the
      research . . . "

      Is anyone brave enough to request an interview with Calgary Mayor Dave
      Bronconnier in order to obtain approval to conduct such a project?

      Clause 1(6) tells us that if we sign an undertaking we must comply with
      it. Not understanding "legalese" I wonder why this is necessary?

      Clause 1(7) tells us that starting one hundred and twelve years after
      the census is taken the information contained in the census returns may
      be examined by anyone. Big deal!

      Clause 1(8) affects all censuses taken in 2006 and later. It is widely
      believed that this is the most disastrous clause of all; not to
      present-day family researchers but to future family researchers - our
      descendants.

      Those future censuses may only be examined ninety-two years after the
      census is taken IF " . . . the person to whom the information relates
      had, at the time of the census, given their consent to disclosure of
      that information."

      If that person does not give consent for his/her/their information to be
      examined ninety-two years later then, presumably, the information is
      sealed FOR EVER.

      The genealogical community believes that this "informed consent" clause
      should be removed from Bill S-13. Unfortunately, we are told that this
      is not likely to happen.

      Failing this, at the very least the refusal to consent should be in the
      form of an "Opt-Out" provision rather than an "Opt-In" provision. These
      apt phrases do not appear in the bill itself. They were coined early in
      the campaign for release of post-1901 censuses. They are self-evident.

      The government is disinclined to agree to this suggestion. As
      has been pointed out on the census campaign mailing list, this is a
      government bill and the government has an overall majority in the
      House of Commons. We are urged to try to convince our individual members
      of parliament to represent the wishes of the people BUT if Liberal
      MPs are told to vote for Bill S-13 without amendment, it will be an
      uphill battle to achieve any amendments.

      Clause 1(9) provides for full disclosure of information if Clauses 1(7)
      and 1(8) have been adhered to.

      Clause 1(10) provides for the orderly transfer of censuses to the
      National
      Archives following compliance with the above requirements. We are all
      agreed that this is an important provision. It will prevent Statistics
      Canada from refusing to transfer the censuses to the National Archives.

      Clause 2 describes who may make the regulations.

      Clause 3 provides for a penalty for "Every person who contravenes
      subsection 17(6) . . . not exceeding one thousand dollars."

      * * *

      Thank you listers for reading the above. It seems to me that if Bill
      S-13 is passed without amendment it will have a negative impact on
      family and historical research. We hope that Lois Sparling is right when
      she says, "Take Heart. This is just another battle, another chapter in
      the saga, not the endgame."

      Rene Dussome

      http://www.afhs.ab.ca
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