20 April 2013

After The Cuts

On Friday afternoon at the 2013 Annual Meeting of the National Council on Public History in Ottawa there was a round table discussion "After the Cuts: The Future of History in Canada" by the presidents of Canadian heritage organizations for anthropology, archaeology, archives, and history.
They provided summaries of the impacts of federal budget cuts to Parks Canada, Library and Archives Canada and the Canadian Museum of Civilization (to become Canadian Museum of History), and on various federally funded programs.
All the organizations were/are conducting correspondence with the counterpart government department or agency and having, or attempting to have, meetings. It appears that government managers are not interested in serious engagement; the advice of these external profession organizations is not being heeded, but little advice is being heeded from internal sources as fewer and fewer disciplinary professionals are being employed by the departments.
The organizations represented are non-political. By their nature they are poorly equipped for rapid response. They will continue to provide advice, but in my view there can be little confidence this will have much impact - remember the truism about keeping on doing the same thing and expecting a different result.
These organizations will be providing input and support for reviews by arm's length panels, such as that of the Royal Society of Canada, underway to provide broadly based high-level advice with a time frame of 18 months or more to report. 

The situation is the result of the political philosophy of the Harper government and can only in the final analysis be addressed by political action -- left to individuals.

The proceeding were recorded and should eventually become available online.

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