November 22, 2011
The Honourable Vic Toews
Minister of Public Safety
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6
Dear Minister Toews,
On behalf of the Canadian Historical Association, I would like to communicate our disagreement with a provision of Bill C-19 “Ending the Long Gun Registry Act, An Act to Amend the Criminal Code and the Firearms Act” to destroy all records associated with this registry immediately. This provision contravenes two pieces of legislation.
1. First, Bill C-19 contravenes the Long Gun Act itself. The Long Gun Act which governs the Long Gun Registry mandates the federal government to maintain all records associated with the registry for a period of ten years.
2. Second, Bill C-19 contravenes the Library and Archives Canada Act (Section 12) which stipulates that only the Librarian and Archivist of Canada has the right to approve destruction of government records.
The Library and Archives Canada (LAC) Act governs all management of government records, and does so on the principle that a neutral body holding expertise in record preservation and record relevance to future generations of researchers is assigned the authority to preserve or destroy government records. LAC already has in place procedures for dealing with sensitive and confidential information or information with inherent security issues, such as registrations with personal information.
Bill C-19 poses a dangerous precedent in the process by which government records are maintained, a precedent in which Cabinet overrides the LAC Act and dictates which government records should be kept and which destroyed. Privacy legislation already protects the identities of individuals until after anyone in these registries are dead and at that point these records will be of enormous value to historians looking back to our century to understand the place of firearms in our society.
To ensure that the record preservation condition originally inscribed in the Long Gun Act itself be maintained and to ensure that the mandate of the Librarian and Archivist of Canada be respected, we request that the record elimination clause in Bill C-19 be withdrawn from this bill.
Archives Portfolio Chair
Canadian Historical Association
c.c. Dr. D. Caron, Librarian and Archivist of Canada
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