Monday, April 15, 2013

Canadian Association of Law Libraries Letter on Federal Budget Cuts

Annette L. Demers, President-Elect of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries, has written a letter to the Canadian government in which she argues that recent federal budget cuts could jeopardize long-term access to Canadian legal information:
"Publications currently slated for migration to electronic-only formats include the Debates of the House of Commons and the Debates of the Senate, the Journals of the House of Commons and the Journals of the Senate, bills, Committee Reports and other Parliamentary publications.  So far, the Gazette, the Statutes of Canada, the Supreme Court Reports, the Federal Court Reports and the Treaty Series will continue to be disseminated in print.  Although the DSP [Depository Services Program of Public Works and Government Services Canada] will continue to disseminate information through publications.gc.ca, there is no evidence that the government has a long-term strategy for archiving legislative information."

"The 2013 budget now promises more of the same, by promising that 'the Government will take steps to modernize the production and distribution of government publications by shifting to electronic publishing and making print publications the exception. The President of the Treasury Board will develop and implement new procedures that will require all publications to be available electronically and will allow printing only under specific circumstances,' and fails to provide any hard web-archiving strategy.  The Treasury Board's current web archiving strategy absolutely is not designed to provide Canadian Citizens with perpetual historical access to essential government documents (...)"

" ... the government’s responsibility to provide access to the law and to legislative information should be considered constitutionally protected as a necessary precondition to fundamental justice.  Legislative information is the spring from which all rights flow in our democracy."

"If implemented without a comprehensive, properly resourced, long-term strategy to preserve legislative information, these budget cuts and policy directions will have an irreversible effect on our democracy for years to come."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:51 pm

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