Sir Arthur G. Doughty c. 1912–13. Dominion Archivist 1904-1935. Perhaps Canada’s greatest.
Here’s an excerpt from a speech in the House by MP Pierre Nantel Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, QC, on bill C 49, the act to establish a new Museum of History.
But before that: the more I think about it, the more annoying it is to me that Library and Archives seems largely to have been left out of the equation here. This is the institution responsible for preserving Canadian history and making it accessible to Canadians; the one that has done so since 1872, in a way that, prior to 2004, was widely admired around the world.
This Museum of History project seems to me little more than a big display case – an exhibition space – for a version of history curated, if not by the Conservative government, then by a select group of historians chosen by them, with some cursory input from ‘ordinary’ Canadians, designed to tell us what our history means; space that should by rights be Library and Archives Canada’s, curated, at arms-length, by non-partisan librarians, archivists, devotees, experts, enthusiasts, not politicians.
“We reject this government’s troubling, detrimental and dubious desire to intervene and to meddle once again. We reject the government’s tampering with history. That is exactly what hundreds of thousands of Canadians have told us in recent weeks. Having seen the carnage at Parks Canada, Library and Archives Canada and now the Canadian Museum of Civilization, thousands of citizens have signed and are continuing to sign an on-line petition stating that they are fed up with the interference in and rewriting of history.
We are calling on the government to restore funding and stop interfering in federal organizations responsible for preserving and protecting our history. That was their responsibility long before the Conservatives took an interest in the matter.
This evening, we are asking the Conservatives to show that they care about history. They should prove that they are passionate about the past by not interfering with the work of historians and various experts who contribute to our understanding of history. Above all, they must stop gutting the public institutions that promote and preserve our history.
I would like to conclude by moving the following motion:
That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word “That” and substituting the following: “the House decline to give second reading to Bill C-49, An Act to amend the Museums Act in order to establish the Canadian Museum of History and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, because it:
(a) represents the government’s interference in Canadian history and its attacks on research and the federal institutions that preserve and promote history such as Library and Archives Canada and Parks Canada…”