CHA President writes to PM Harper in opposition to the cuts made to Parcs Canada and Library and Archives Canada
The Right Honourable Stephen Harper
Prime Minister of Canada
House of Commons
Leader of the Government
111 Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6
October 3, 2012
Dear Mr. Harper:
On behalf of the Canadian Historical Association, Canada’s leading organization of professional historians, I write to express our continuing deep concern over the impacts of the recent federal budgetary reductions on Canada’s culture and heritage and in particular, on Library and Archives Canada. In May 2012 our Executive and Advocacy Committee Chair John Lutz wrote to Minister James Moore to express these concerns but his response dated August 9 does not address any of the issues that were raised in the letter and is less than satisfactory. Therefore, we respectfully ask you as prime minister to take note of these important concerns and direct your ministers to take steps to redress them.
In numerous communications your government has expressed strong support for recognizing aspects of Canadian history and heritage. Programs commemorating the War of 1812-14, the Battle of Vimy Ridge, and the First World War are examples of our military history which your government has supported in recent years. Further, your government has promoted and invested in the search for the missing ships of Sir John Franklin. We agree that recognizing Canada’s rich history is a worthy and important undertaking.
Yet, as was persuasively argued by Professor Ian MacLaren of the University of Alberta in a recent letter to you, your ministers’ cuts to Library and Archives Canada and Parks Canada undermine these priorities of your government. In particular, they have obliged staff cuts that compromise the capacity of LAC to protect and make accessible important archival collections documenting Canada’s past. Already they are impeding the efforts of researchers seeking answers to our military or exploration history in LAC’s collections. I hope you agree that these cuts are especially unfortunate for historians and other experts wishing to do research in LAC’s archives in anticipation of Canada’s 150th anniversary in 2017. Over time, these cuts will diminish Canadians’ capacity to understand ourselves and our shared national identity. Our specific concerns are detailed in the attached letter to Librarian and Archivist of Canada Daniel Caron (encl.).
As well, Parks Canada has indicated that its cuts will result in the destaffing of 31 national historic sites administered by the Agency beginning next year. That represents nearly 20 per cent of the national historic sites protected and presented by Parks Canada and constitutes a major loss to our national heritage programs in all regions of the country. Each of these sites is an important component of Canada’s heritage. Since unstaffed sites are endangered sites, destaffing them will needlessly place these sites at risk. Eliminating the interpretive staff also means that the important stories of these outstanding heritage places will go untold.
I look forward to your response to this letter of deep concern regarding our national heritage.
Canadian Historical Association
PM Office's Response
Minister Moore's Response
Minister Kent's Response