Mr. Speaker, I am extremely pleased to take part in this debate on Bill C-36, an act to establish the Library and Archives of Canada.
With this debate, this legislation will take an important step toward our ultimate goal of establishing the Library and Archives of Canada. This legislation was initiated four years ago with the tabling of the English report, and the appointment of Roch Carrier as National Librarian and Ian Wilson as National Archivist.
In 1999, the publication of the report entitled “The Role of the National Archives of Canada and the National Library of Canada” was a clear turning point for these two great institutions.
At the time, the Minister of Canadian Heritage asked Professor John English to consult the stakeholders on several key issues, notably the structure of these two institutions and how they could help Canada become a leader on information highway, which is constantly evolving.
At the same time, the professor was also asked to study ways to better preserve our country's collective memory and improve our access to it.
Extensive consultations were conducted to gather input from the staff of both organizations, as well as from archivists, librarians, academics, departmental representatives and many other stakeholders. Following these, Mr. English made recommendations to make these two institutions work better.
Several of these recommendations dealt with the management of Canadian documentary heritage in the digital age and how to make this heritage available to Canadians. The enormous potential of the Internet was another topic that pervaded the consultations.
In his report, Mr. English also identified several areas where the two institutions already share services. He recommended that this cooperation be expanded to include the management of internal documents, computer systems, cultural programming and other areas.
In their presentations before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, the national archivist and the national librarian told us they had both read the English report before being appointed and had discussed it. As Roch Carrier said, and I quote:
—we saw that there were many opportunities for us to work together.
For various historical reasons, there were some rather puzzling divisions. For instance, Ian is entrusted with cartoons, or caricatures in newspapers; but I am entrusted with newspapers. I am entrusted with voices; Ian is entrusted with the images that go with the voices, etc.
Mr. Carrier added that his counterpart and he agreed that the situation did not make sense and that it would make sense to gather together the great wealth with which they are entrusted.
This joint decision marks one more step toward a brighter future, through the establishment of a new knowledge institute in Canada, bringing together two major organizations and combining their strengths under a new mandate that reflects the new digital reality and provides them with the tools required to meet the needs of a country in this 21st century.
Thanks to the commitment of these two men and the efforts of the men and women who work at the National Library and at the National Archives, a synergy was created. These two institutions have worked together on various projects and reinforced the existing bond between them. They already share several administrative functions such as finance, human resources, some facilities, security and information and preservation services.
The directors did all they could in the current context. Nonetheless, they quickly realized that a merger was the logical next step.
Combining these two institutions could provide us with enormous potential. Following this initiative, Bill C-36 was presented in the House in May, 2003. Then, in June, just before the House adjourned for the summer, the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage reviewed the bill.
The committee heard from a large number of witnesses, who talked about numerous elements of the bill, and an exhaustive discussion ensued, as could be expected. One of the most interesting things to note is that although every witness wanted to express an opinion, everyone was unanimous and enthusiastic about the idea of contributing to the merger and creation of Library and Archives Canada.
All the witnesses—library science or archival specialists, a large number of users and historians, and even potential contributors or authors—talked about how much Canadians, including themselves, would benefit from this new knowledge institute.
Together we have improved this bill nicely. We have introduced the necessary changes to allow Library and Archives Canada to rest on a solid and modern foundation.
What will this new cultural institute look like? Will it be a veritable treasure of Canadian knowledge and history; a new guardian of our cultural heritage?
I believe the answer is yes. In fact, we are currently witnessing something a lot greater than a simple merger. Our objective is not to save money by using the same letterhead, but rather to create a new agency that is more dynamic and effective, with a greater influence and the ability to respond to Canadians' new needs.
I will give a few examples. By combining the specialized skills of librarians and archivists, it will be possible to ensure integrated access to the collections.
By combining the collections, it will be possible to create seamless access to the holdings. For example, a person looking for information on the sinking of the Empress of Ireland would have access not only to published accounts in books and newspapers like we might get if we just went to the library, but also to photographs, manuscripts, and a host of other forms of documentary materials through a single point of access.
With the combined resources and expertise of nearly 1,000 employees of the National Library and the National Archives, the new institution will be better positioned to manage the millions of items in its collection, and meet the evolving and ever increasing information needs of Canadians.
The combined specialized skills of librarians and archivists will allow Canada to be at the forefront of information sciences through, for example, the development in the field of metadata and provide the Government of Canada with the centre of leadership and expertise of information management.
As you are no doubt aware, the collections of these two institutions are truly impressive. No one should be surprised by this, given the broad scope of their respective mandates.
The National Archives were founded in 1872. The mission of the institution, now well past its hundredth birthday, is to preserve the collective memory of the nation and the Canadian government, to help protect rights, and to enhance the sense of national identify.
The National Archives preserve millions of documents of all kinds: films, maps, diaries, treaties, works of art, government documents, photographs, and sound recordings.
As for the National Library, it was created in 1953. Its role is to acquire, conserve and promote documents comprising Canada's publishing heritage. I would like to quote Roch Carrier's excellent vision of these two entities. He said:
In the National Library and the National Archives of Canada, no documents are lost. We have a system for identifying documents and for retracing them. We also have a great responsibility to the nation to safeguard these documents, because if we lose documents today, then in 50 years or 300 years, no one will be able to access them.
By combining collections and personnel, Library and Archives Canada will be able to provide a whole wealth of information, thousands of items of information to millions of Canadians in every part of this country.
Technological progress will enable this new entity to work with institutions all over Canada and elsewhere. This new institution will reap the benefit of the partnerships already in place with other archives and a network of 21,000 public libraries across Canada.
Some of these partnerships may also be strengthened. The bill will assign to Library and Archives Canada the role of facilitating cooperation among the various intervenors involved in promoting and preserving Canada's documentary heritage.
One important objective of this new institution will be to work in conjunction with other library and archives services throughout Canada to put into place strategies to facilitate the identification and preservation of Canada's documentary heritage on a variety of supports. This documentary heritage will also have to reflect the Canadian reality in all its diversity and complexity.
Speaking of preservation, the government has also set aside $15 million in the 2003 budget for urgent short term storage requirements and for studies on the best way of preserving its collection in the long term. This solution is a key component of the preservation and promotion of the Canadian documentary heritage.
Bill C-36 also includes amendments to the Copyright Act. That subject was of interest to a number of witnesses who appeared before the committee. I would like to reiterate why these amendments are necessary. First of all, because Bill C-36 will create a new, modern institution, with the ability to play a leading role in the digital universe.
For example, the bill changes the requirement for legal deposit in the case of books, and clarifies that electronic publications are covered as well. In addition, the head of the new institution will have new powers to periodically sample Internet sites of importance to Canada.
This only refers to Internet sites accessible to the public without restriction and solely for the purpose of preservation for future generations of Canadians. Nevertheless, since electronic publications and Internet sites are ephemeral in nature, they can change rapidly and often. Library and Archives Canada will archive them on durable media, in one copy.
For greater legislative clarity, we therefore propose an exception to the Copyright Act similar to that which already exists for the archiving of broadcast works.
I would like to point out that this exception will apply only to the new institution, Library and Archives Canada, and that it will be used strictly for preservation purposes, with access to these works being limited to on-site consultation.
At the same time, Bill C-36 contains other amendments to the Copyright Act that would facilitate the work of this new cultural institution. The proposed bill will amend section 30.21 of the Copyright Act to remove the conditions that archival institutions must meet to make single copies of unpublished works. Such copies are used for the purpose of research and private study.
Section 30.21 currently states that a copy of an unpublished work deposited before September 1, 1999, can only be made if the archive is unable to locate the copyright owner. It also states that records must be kept of all copies made under this section. This adds quite a burden to our archival facilities and reduces the access that Canadians have to these documents. The archival community would like to see this condition lifted.
To achieve a balance between users and copyright holders, the bill also includes an extension of the term of protection accorded to unpublished works of Canadian authors who died before 1949 to be extended until 2017. This would allow the heirs of an author of such a work an opportunity to publish the previously unpublished work.
The solution proposed in the Library and Archives of Canada Act would be to eliminate these two conditions. These amendments represent another concrete example of the government's commitment to giving this new institution the mandate, the powers and the tools it needs to achieve its goals.
I want to share an anecdote told by Roch Carrier to illustrate the Internet's true potential. During his presentation to the committee, Mr. Carrier talked about the music department at the National Library of Canada which, in the past, has welcomed 300 researchers per year. Now available on line, this service is provided to more than 100,000 visitors per month. That is a huge difference, is it not?
This shows how truly important access to our documentary heritage is. Thanks to Bill C-36, this new institution will have the means necessary to provide on line services, like the Canadian Genealogy Centre and the future Virtual Reference Canada. This will allow Canadians to discover their rich documentary heritage.
In closing, I simply want to say that Bill C-36 is helping us to build something for present and future generations, who will benefit from it. The bill's preamble eloquently summarizes the noble purpose of this new institution as a source of knowledge. It also ensures that Canada's documentary heritage will be preserved for the benefit of present and future generations; that Canada be served by an institution thatis a source of enduring knowledgeaccessible to all; that this institution facilitate in Canadacooperation among the communities involvedin the acquisition, preservation anddiffusion of knowledge;and that this institution serve as the continuingmemory of the Government of Canada andits institutions. I have no doubt that the Library and Archives of Canada will be one of the most important institutions of our society.
For these reasons and many others, I encourage all the hon. members to join me in supporting Bill C-36.