This page contains links pertaining to Bill S-13
Bill S-13 is the response of the government to more than six years of lobbying that seeks to regain public access to Historic Census Records. It was introduced in the Senate 5 February 2003 by the Hon. Fernand Robichaud (Deputy Leader of the Government). The government claims it 'removes a legal ambiguity' that prevents the transfer of Historic Census records to the care and control of the National Archivist for subsequent public access. They claim also that it is a 'compromise'.
In actual fact, Bill S-13 -- when compared to existing applicable legislation -- neither removes any 'legal ambiguity' nor is it a 'compromise'.
Bill S-13 would permit genealogists and historians to access Census records, 92 years after collection. It would also ensure that records of Census would be transferred to the National Archives and stipulates that the purpose of such transfer is to allow their examination by the public. These are the desireable aspects of the Bill.
Bill S-13 would impose conditions and restrictions on access that we find less than desireable. It would require those seeking access to commit to an as yet unpublished 'undertaking' not to publish information beyond 'tombstone information' for an additional twenty years. It would impose those conditions on the 1911 and 1916 Censuses that were taken under the same legislation and similar Instructions to Enumerators as was the 1906 Census that has been released and placed online with absolutely no restrictions or conditions.
By far the worst restriction of Bill S-13 would be the imposition of an 'informed consent' clause that could effectively destroy the usefulness of future Censuses (from 2006 and on) for any realistic scientific, historic or demographic research. Such a clause could also cause many future genealogists to be disappointed when trying to research their family roots.
Bill S-13 proceeded through Senate Committee hearings and contrary to expectations it received no clause-by-clause deliberation, and expected amendments were not proposed. It was reported back to the Senate where it received third reading, again without amendment, and was forwarded to the House of Commons on 27 May 2003. Bill S-13 received first reading in the House of Commons 28 May 2003 but no further action on it took place before Parliament recessed for the summer.
The following links provide information relating to Bill S-13 and its progress through the parliamentary process.Bill S-13
Written submission of Gordon A. Watts -- 17 February 2003
Report on Senate Committee hearings - 27 February 2003.
Addendum to Written submission of Gordon A. Watts -- 17 March 2003
Report on Senate Committee hearings - 9 April 2003.
Third Reading debate in Senate -- first session -- 30 April 2003
Third Reading debate in Senate -- second session -- 7 May 2003
Third Reading debate in Senate -- third session -- 13 May 2003
Third Reading debate in Senate -- fourth session -- 14 May 2003
Third Reading debate in Senate -- fifth session -- 15 May 2003
Third Reading debate in Senate -- sixth session -- 27 May 2003
Second Reading debate in House of Commons -- first session -- 20 Oct 2003
Second Reading debate in House of Commons -- second session -- 6 Nov 2003