Elizabeth May, MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands and Leader of the Green Party, investigates the legality of the recent culling of federal government libraries and collections:
The Act covering publications and records held by the Government of Canada is the Library and Archives of Canada Act. In reviewing it, it seems clear the act was not followed. The Library and Archives of Canada Act exists to protect and preserve our ‘documentary heritage’. The Act’spreamble makes it clear that Parliament recognizes the importance of protecting knowledge as a critical part of any democratic society.
The Act established a set of protections for all government records held by any and all departments. The mandate to protect and maintain the documentary heritage of Canada is held by the Librarian and Archivist for Canada. The current Librarian and Archist is Hervé Déry—appointed in May 2013 on an interim basis.
According to the Act,
12. (1) No government or ministerial record, whether or not it is surplus property of a government institution, shall be disposed of, including by being destroyed, without the written consent of the Librarian and Archivist …..
Under s. 16, all publications (even if surplus) must be moved to the care and control of the Librarian and Archivist.
I decided to phone the Librarian and Archivist of Canada, who has a very clear responsibility to protect the ‘documentary heritage’ of Canadians. It took over a week to get the current interim Librarian and Archivist on the phone. And when I did, it turned out two officials from Heritage Canada were in the room as ‘observers.’ Mr Déry confirmed that he has not provided any written authorizations for the destruction of documents. He claimed it is none of his business if records, books and research are destroyed as it is in the ‘discretion of the ministers.’