CAN-ONT-PRESCOTT-L ArchivesArchiver > CAN-ONT-PRESCOTT > 2003-04 > 1051235368
From: "Muriel M. Davidson" <>
Subject: Post 1901 Census -- Bill S-13 needs a full debate in the Senate.
Date: Thu, 24 Apr 2003 21:56:45 -0400
Forwarded by Muriel M. Davidson
I copy below for your info my letter sent to all Senators by email, and
that will be sent by Canada Post this afternoon. We hope that many
others are sending letters to the Senators to express their opinion
regarding the restrictive conditions of Bill S-13. Once we learn the
final draft of what the Senate will forward to the House of Commons we
will need your help in writing to your Members of Parliament as well.
In writing your letters please use your own words. Do not simply copy
those written by someone else and say "me too". Such letters would
likely be viewed as form letters and will likely be ignored.
Gordon A. Watts
Co-Chair, Canada Census Committee
Port Coquitlam, BC
en français http://globalgenealogy.com/Census/Index_f.htm
Permission to forward without notice is granted.
Sent: Thursday, April 24, 2003 10:16 AM
Subject: Bill S-13 needs a full debate in the Senate.
1455 Delia Drive
Port Coquitlam, BC
23 April 2003
Senate of Canada
For most of my adult life, I have believed that in Canada we live in a
Democracy. Living in a Democracy I believed that we elect people to
represent us in the House of Commons, and that those representatives
should put forth the views of the people they represent. In so doing I
believed that the common people had an opportunity to make a
difference - to seek redress and right wrongs perpetrated by the
Senators are not elected but are appointed by the Government - also to
represent the people of Canada, but additionally to provide a "sober,
second look" at what those in the lower chamber are up to.
For the past six years the people of Canada have been involved in a
campaign to regain the public access to Post 1901 Census records that
has been improperly, and believed illegally, withheld from us by the
Chief Statistician of Canada. Petitions containing more than 62,000
signatures have been sent to Ottawa and have been presented in the
Senate and the House of Commons. Untold numbers of letters and email
have been sent to Members of Parliament and Senators. All have sought
the same thing - to regain the same, unrestricted access to records of
Census after 1901 that has been available for 235 years up to that time.
On 24 January 2003 the government unconditionally released the 1906
Census of the North-Western Provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and
Alberta. Within minutes of the announced release of these records,
scanned images of the Schedules of Census were made available online for
the entire world to view and research. In releasing these records the
government conceded that current legislation, i.e. the Privacy Act and
Regulations attached thereto, allowed them to do so.
After five years of campaigning the government finally introduced a Bill
to deal with the concerns of those seeking access to Historic Census
records. In so doing, however, they ignored what those concerns were.
The opening 'Summary' of Bill S-13 states "this enactment removes a
legal ambiguity in relation to access to census records taken between
1910 and 2003". Bill S-13 does considerably more than remove a legal
ambiguity. It provides for transfer of Census records to the control of
the National Archives 92 years after collection. It specifies that the
purpose of that transfer is to permit examination of those records for
genealogical or historical purposes. However, in so doing it imposes
conditions on access for which there has been no demonstrated need, and
that were not envisioned in existing applicable legislation, or in the
Instructions to Enumerators of Census that have, and always have had,
the force of law.
It was expected that some of those conditions would be removed, or
amended, during debate and consideration of Bill S-13 by the Senate
Standing Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology. Such was
not to be, however, as the proceedings of the Committee hearings were
shanghaid by Senator Lowell Murray using a political ploy that resulted
in S-13 being reported back to the Senate without amendment. Because of
that political ploy there was no clause-by-clause deliberation of Bill
S-13. Neither was there any debate relating to tabled amendments.
Those amendments were supported by four of five witnesses that testified
at the first Committee hearings.
It is believed that Honourable Senators, being Honourable in more than
just name, likely believe in the principles of democracy - that the
purpose of government is to serve the will of the people, not the other
way around. In drafting Bill S-13 government has listened more to one
apparently very powerful bureaucrat than to representations by tens of
thousands of Canadians. The conditions imposed by Bill S-13 do NOT
reflect the will of the people.
We call upon the Honourable Senators, being Honourable in more than just
name, to permit in the Senate what did not happen during the Senate
Committee hearings. We call upon you to conduct a full, free debate on
the merits, or otherwise, of restrictive conditions of access imposed by
Bill S-13. We call upon you to conduct a full, free debate on all of
the amendments sought by the people of Canada. We call upon you to send
to the House of Commons a Bill that is truly reflective of the will of
The amendments to Bill S-13 sought by the people are, in order of
* Removal of Clause 8 - the supposed "informed consent" clause.
This clause, if retained, will destroy forever any possibility of Census
from 2006 and on being used for any scientific, demographic or
historical research, and will prevent many genealogists from being able
to research their ancestry. Barring total removal of Clause 8,
clarification must be made to make it an OPT-OUT provision rather than
OPT-IN. Such a provision would ensure that only those who have given
conscious thought to the issue, and that specifically object to access
of their information 92 years in the future, would be excluded from the
* Removal of all restrictions or conditions for access for at
least the 1911 and 1916 Records of Census. The 1911 and 1916 Censuses
were conducted under the same legislation and similar Instructions to
Enumerators as was the 1906 Census. Records of the 1906 Census have
been released without restrictions of any kind, and have been placed
online for the entire world to view.
* Removal of the "twenty-year" period during which only partial
disclosure of information found in Census records might be made by a
researcher. Removal also of the need to commit to an "undertaking"
regarding this partial disclosure. Need for these conditions have not
been demonstrated. They contribute nothing to the privacy of
respondents to Census. They do not prevent information from being
known. They create a costly, bureaucratic procedure that in the end run
will simply be an inconvenience for those that would share information
through their family history.
We do not oppose Bill S-13 as a whole, but we most certainly oppose the
unwarranted conditions it imposes on the access to Historic Census
records that we believe is already permitted under the Privacy Act and
Regulations attached thereto. If the purpose of Bill S-13 is, as
stated, to remove an ambiguity - that being the transfer of control of
Historic Census records to the National Archives for subsequent public
access - let it do just that. Do not allow it to impose conditions on
that access for which there has not been any demonstrated need.
I remain available for any clarification you might seek regarding this
issue. Thank you.
Gordon A. Watts
Co-chair, Canada Census Committee
Tel (604) 942-6889
Fax (604) 942-6843
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