Elimination of NADP in House of Commons Question Period
On 7 May 2012 the Opposition Heritage Critic questioned the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages about the elimination of the NADP. The official transcript of the exchange can be found in the official Hansard:
Mr. Pierre Nantel (Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, if we have to trust those people over there, then we are not out of the woods.
While millions of dollars are being spent on recreating the War of 1812, this government, including that minister, has decided to declare war on archivists. Cuts are being made to hundreds of small museums because the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages has chosen to make cuts to the National Archival Development Program.
Towns and cities everywhere will not have enough money to protect their historical documents—small churches, small libraries, everywhere. And that will have an impact on us. At the end of the day, these cuts are threatening the very wealth and diversity of heritage in our communities.
Why is the government so doggedly attacking our collective wealth—
The hon. Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages.
Hon. James Moore (Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, there is no such attack. Library and Archives Canada will certainly be able to continue meeting its commitments by using new technologies and other means, and those methods will be used by museums across the country.
Our government is investing more than ever before in terms of our national museums, small museums across the country. Library and Archives Canada is doing a fantastic job of digitizing things, working with smaller libraries, working with collections and archivists around the country to make sure that more of the collection is available to more Canadians than ever before, at lower cost.
They are getting the job done and we are working well together.
Unfortunately, the honourable Minister does not seem to be aware that archives and museums are more often than not distinct entities. He also doesn’t seem to be aware that the NADP cut affects more than Library and Archives Canada. The Canadian Council of Archives staff were the ones “working with collections and archivists around the country”, yet their office has been closed with the elimination of the NADP.
Digitization is wonderful, but with the elimination of roughly half of Library and Archives’ digitization staff and digitization funding for smaller archives most often having been provided by NADP, how are Canadian archivists to continue to do “a fantastic job of digitizing things”?
Finally, what about preservation and access? The funds provided by the NADP allowed those activities to take place across the country too. People provide access, not computers, whether it is in person, through digitization efforts, or the migration of aging and obsolete digital file formats to maintain access to previously digitized or born-digital material. By cutting funds and cutting staff, there is no way that archivists will continue “getting the job done”.
If you haven’t already, please do write letters to your Member of Parliament and to the Ministers involved with the heritage sector cuts. As you can see, the people in charge seem to be extremely unaware of what they are actually cutting and the impacts that this has for the records of Canada.