September 20, 2000

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The Deputy Speaker

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Business Of The House
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Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Business Of The House
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The House resumed consideration of the motion and of the amendment.


REF

John Duncan

Reform

Mr. John Duncan (Vancouver Island North, Canadian Alliance)

Mr. Speaker, it gives me pleasure to speak to this subject matter after the mover of the original motion. It does not give me great pleasure that we now have an amendment which basically guts the motion. However, it allows me to speak to this subject again. I previously spoke to it on April 10 and it would have nullified my ability to speak tonight if that amendment had not occurred.

As explained by the hon. member for Calgary Southeast, the mover of the original motion, essentially what we have here is a circumstance where it is obvious that the Minister of Industry, who is responsible for the census data and the Statistics Canada operations, does not want to release this information for his own purposes.

There is much fuzziness around the issue and it has been exploited to the government's advantage because of that. We are one of the jurisdictions in the western world without clear statutory rules for when census information shall be released.

The most critical period of time in terms of mass emigration particularly from Europe to Canada is the period 1910 to 1930. That is very important historical information for us. It is also very important information for the country to the south of us, the United States.

Our set-up is diametrically different from the standpoint that the U.S. is getting ready to release its 1930 census data next year. It has a 70 year rule. The motion does not propose a 70 year rule. It proposes that the 1911 census data be released in 2003, which is 92 years. We can argue all day about what is an appropriate length of time but we need clear statutory rules as to when Canada will do that. The current situation is open to political manipulation.

The minister asked Statistics Canada to produce a report on what it thought about the whole situation. The Statistics Canada report essentially stated that there was an everlasting promise to keep the material secret. It has been able to make that statement without any documentation.

A review of all the statutes, proclamations, the Canada Gazette and newspaper clippings of the day would indicate quite the contrary. The more one thinks about why Statistics Canada would take such a position, the more one is led to the conclusion that Statistics Canada is actually in a conflict of interest situation on this matter.

Very pervasive, invasive questions have been asked recently by Statistics Canada. There are members of the public, including myself, who do not believe that the level of inquiry is appropriate for census material. By using coercion, the threat of penalty and other measures, we are told that we have to respond to the questions.

That accumulated data becomes a saleable commodity by Statistics Canada. It is in business with this data. It does not want to threaten its ability to coerce the public into responding to those questions. Therefore it has to hold out this guarantee, or at least favour that end of the spectrum.

I do not believe we should be giving any plausible credibility to its report. The motion is clear in stating that nationally we have a vested interest in actually releasing our census data. We will lose too much of our history if we do not do so. We will be out of step with other parts of the western world. We will leave an unsatisfactory circumstance to be cleaned up later.

There is no better time than this year to clarify what the rules of census data collection are because we are going into a census year next year. Let us deal with more than the 1911 census. Let us deal with the 1911 census and subsequent ones, as well as the 2001 census.

This motion deals with the most immediate priority, the 1911 census. I urge everyone to reject the amendment and to vote for the motion.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   1911 Census Records
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The Deputy Speaker

Is the House ready for the question?

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   1911 Census Records
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Some hon. members

Question.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   1911 Census Records
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The Deputy Speaker

Pursuant to order made earlier this day, all questions necessary to dispose of the motion are deemed put and a recorded division deemed demanded and deferred until Tuesday, September 26, 2000 at the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders.

It being 7.12 p.m., the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 7.12 p.m.)

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   1911 Census Records
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September 20, 2000