07 September 2008

Shock your candidate

With a Canadian federal election now underway it's that once in four year opportunity to let your MP, and MP wannabes, know about the issues important to you. Why not ask about an issue relevant to your interest in genealogy?

When they, or their representative come knocking don't hesitate to raise an issue because it's not making national headlines -- MPs have to represent us on all issues, not just those the parties or the media choose to highlight.

Why not ask about digitization, copyright and the census?

Are you happy that the present government has reduced funding by $11.7 million for the Canadian Memory Fund plus additional funding cuts for other programs that digitize Canadian content? Under this policy Canada is falling behind the pace of our major trading partners, the United States, European Union, Australia, New Zealand and China, who have aggressive digitization programs. In this day and age if you don't exist digitally you don't exist. The rising generation of students expect to find information online and have little patience for old fashioned technology, and why not when other countries show it can be done?

Bill C-61, amendments to the Copyright Act, disappeared when the election was called but the Conservatives have indicated they intend to reintroduce the bill. Will your candidate commit to full public consultations before the introduction of any new copyright bill? In this way the fight can go on to protect current provisions for fair dealing, and to introduce measures to allow the use of orphan publications without an eternal search for the copyright holder.

The long fight for release of historic census data was won. The 1911 and 1916 census schedules are now freely available. But the release was only gained when an unpalatable compromise was accepted. Despite there never having been a complaint about privacy and the census, release of basic census data (name, age, occupation, place of birth and the same information for family members) in the next century is now subject to a veto by the person submitting the data. The veto means that, unlike in the UK and US, historians will not have access to a statistically sound Canadian population sample and genealogists will miss out on an invaluable record. Will your candidate agree to a full review the issue after the 2011 census?

1 comment:

Miriam Robbins said...

Great ideas, John! Here in the U.S., we should be asking our candidates about opening ancestral records that have been slammed shut under the guise of protection from terrorism by Homeland Security. I just can't see how my great-grandmother's birth certificate would be of any use to the Taliban!