11 April 2014

Ignoring the LAC Act

CBC radio's The Current did an important segment  A War on Experts? The government ignores expert opinions on the Fair Elections Act. While elections are not a topic for this blog the impact of the present government hostility toward expertise and information is.

I listened to this segment shortly after receiving an email linking to an article How Western got its weather data from the University of Western Ontario. It explains how the university acquired the archives of the Meteorological Service of Canada including "all extant meteorological observations between 1840 and 1960 – about a thousand boxes in all – and another 250 volumes of journals, letterbooks, observations and correspondence related to Canadian meteorological history."

Why was the collection not archived at Library and Archives Canada? According to the article the collection "never made it to Library and Archives Canada – in earlier decades, I was told, because such data-heavy records did not conform to the archives’ idea of historical, and in more recent years because the archives experienced an acquisitions freeze and then a de facto one."

One of LAC's legislated objectives is "to be the permanent repository of publications of the Government of Canada and of government and ministerial records that are of historical or archival value." While I can accept that the 1000 boxes of data, already digitized, isn't so significant the "250 volumes of journals, letterbooks, observations and correspondence related to Canadian meteorological history" is another matter. It reflects that LAC is failing to fulfill its mandate.

That's consistent with the government's deliberate neglect.

Thanks to Maria Latyszewskyj for pointing me to the article from the UWO.


turner said...

This is so shocking. How can LAC so completely miss the boat in so many ways?!! A tragedy ....


Denis Bourque said...

Inconceivable a few years ago … but these days, not any more. It should be remembered that these documents and files were 'already' government holdings; they were never items for the LAC to consider purchasing in some way from private collections, as is the case with some many other desirable items. Now, they are out of government hands. Pity.