For fear of librarians

LAC staff muzzled because Harper has something to hide

DFO is not the only government department to have recently embraced muzzling as policy. In January, Library and Archives Canada (LAC) adopted a new code of conduct that discourages its staff from visiting classrooms, going to conferences and speaking at public meetings on their own personal time. What does it say about the Harper government when they fear the librarians?

It says they have something to hide, that's what. It turns out that LAC has been enduring the same kind of cuts we have seen at EC and DFO, including an announcement last year that 20% of their workforce would be culled and that libraries in many federal departments would be shut down. In some cases collections will be destroyed because there is nowhere else for them to go. Canadians would obviously want to know about this stuff.

There are parallels between the LAC cuts and those we have seen elsewhere. Transport Canada, whose library was one of the first to go, claimed that it was streamlining its collection to focus on "core functions". It is very similar to the language the government used in trying to explain the dismantling of EC's ozone research program.

Why are the cuts to LAC important? LAC is tasked with acquiring and preserving Canada's documentary heritage and making it known to Canadians. The unnecessary elimination of libraries, firing of librarians, and the destruction of collections is quite literally erasing our memory of the Canada that was, and will make it all the harder to put Canada back together when Harper and his crew are gone. The unique collections maintained by LAC are also used by government researchers in the development of policy. The assault on LAC, much like the muzzling of scientists, further enables Harper's government to operate in an evidence-free environment.

Can it be any wonder that a 63% of Canadians disagreed with the statement the “Harper Conservatives are living up to the promise they made when first elected in 2006 to provide an ethical, open and transparent government”?

See also:

The Tyee: The Wrecking of Canada's Library and Archives

Margaret Munro: ABCs of ‘behaviour regulation’ for federal librarians and archivists

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