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Lobbying the Federal Government About the Census, Privacy, and Access to Information

The Canadian Historical Association has made representations to the Federal Government about the following issues:

Following the establishment of the Expert Panel on Access to Historical Census Records early in 2000, the Canadian Historical Association submitted a brief to the panel, asking for access to Canadian census manuscripts after 92 years. The final report of the Expert Panel, which included current CHA president Chad Gaffield, was released December 15, 2000; it recommends "release of the pre-1918 Census records and post-2001 records on a 92-year cycle, while advising some caution regarding any legislative steps that might be thought necessary to effect the release of those census records for the period 1921 to 2001". In the December 15 press release announcing the release of the report, however, Brian Tobin, Minister of Industry and Minister Responsible for Statistics Canada, while thanking the Expert panel for its report, "indicated that further broad based consultation with all Canadians is needed". On January 15, 2001, the CHA wrote to Brian Tobin urging that the Expert Panel's recommendations be implemented.

Previously, the Canadian Historical Association had written to John Manley, then Minister of Industry, calling on the Canadian government to transfer all post-1901 censuses to the National Archives Canada so that the material can be made available to researchers on a regular and continuing basis according to the provisions of the Privacy Act and its regulations.

The CHA has also written to the Privacy Commissioner, Bruce Phillips, concerning the Commissioner stand on access to twentieth-century census materials.

See the exchange of correspondence, along with other letters of support for the CHA's position.
Federal Administration Records Management and Archives

The President of the Canadian Historical Association, Irving Abella, wrote on 25 September 1999 to Information Commissioner John Reid to support the Commissioner's efforts to improve records management within the Federal administration. The CHA is worried about future access to Federal government records in the National archives if these records are not handled under a systematic policy of records management and transfer to the National Archives.
Privacy Legislation

The Canadian Historical Association, in cooperation with the Institut d'histoire de l'Amerique francaise and the Association of Canadian Archivists, appeared before the Standing Committee on Industry on February 18, 1999 to discuss the implications of Bill C-54 for archival and historical activity. The CHA is seeking amendments to the act to permit future archival and historical use of personal information collected by the private sector.

  • Bill C-54 : Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act
  • Comments made by the CHA to the permanent committee on industry, House of Commons, 18 February 1999
  • Comments by Joanne Burgess, Terry Cook, and Bill Waiser, 4 March 1999

Access to Information

Several members of the House of Commons have tabled private member's bills to amend the 1982 Access to Information Act. The Canadian Historical Association believes that any review and revision of the legislation must be as comprehensive as possible and be undertaken by the government. The CHA has written the minister of Justice on this matter.

See the following Federal Private Member's Bills:

  • Bill C-264: An Act to amend the Access to Information Act and to make amendments to other Acts; Revised and reprinted pursuant to Order made Thursday, June 11, 1998
  • Bill C-208: An Act to amend the Access to Information Act; passed by the House of Commons November 16, 1998
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