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Article Published July 09, 1999 Vol. III No. 11

Gordon A. Watts POST-1901 CENSUS NEWS (Canada)
By: Gordon A. Watts,

Update on The Post 1901 Census Issue

Greetings Readers, and Members of Parliament.

Once again I find myself pushing the deadline for this issue's column. Such behaviour should change after my return home in a couple of weeks. In the meantime I am enjoying my summer travels, getting together with family I have not seen for awhile, and meeting some that I have not met before. All of this gives me the opportunity to gather more signatures on the Petition to the House of Commons. For those of you in the midst of summer travels or planning holidays and visits to friends and family, please remember the importance of gathering thousands of signatures across this country to demand release of all post -1901 census records.

A short time ago I spent several days ‘camping’ at Alberta Beach Golf Course and RV Park while commuting into Edmonton to visit relatives and update genealogy. Alberta Beach is a small resort community and I enjoyed the time I spent there. I was looking for somewhere to plug in and collect my email, and met ANN ALLEN who runs the small library there. She was very interested in hearing about the Census issue and immediately agreed to keep a petition in the library. I showed her how to access the Post 1901 Census Project site, which she book-marked, and she asked me to subscribe her to the CANADA-CENSUS-CAMPAIGN mail list. It is because of people like Ann that I feel certain we will eventually succeed in our efforts to have Census records released to the public.


The CANADA-CENSUS-CAMPAIGN mail list is coming along. Each day brings more subscribers and there are some interesting postings coming in. I have kept my own postings to the list low key as I am interested in knowing what others have to say. The list is intended to be a forum for ALL subscribers to voice their thoughts on Post 1901 Census issues. Join the list by sending an email to

with ONLY the word SUBSCRIBE in the subject line and/or the body of the message. No signature files or other comments in the message or it will get bounced. After subscribing, to post messages to the list, send them to

Don’t do as I have just discovered I had done, and leave the "-request" in the address to post. They don’t get where you want them to go. Listers have probably wondered why none of the postings were mine — this is the reason. I ended up sending several postings that went only to myself as list owner.

By the time this issue of the Global Gazette is posted the CANADA-CENSUS-CAMPAIGN mail list will have received some extensive publicity. It will be listed on four major websites for genealogy including sites of Genealogy Resources of the Internet by John Fuller and Chris Gaunt, Tim Pierce (rootsweb), Cyndi Howells, and Vicki Lindsay.


One question that repeatedly comes up is the question of why e-mail to your MP does not seem to carry as much weight as snail mail does. The simple answer is that our Government has not yet fully embraced the age of ‘electronic enlightenment’. While a court of law, in certain circumstances, will recognize an e-mail, the Government still wants correspondence that has a handwritten signature. Another reason I learned in a personal telephone conversation with MP Colleen Beaumier. She indicated that she, like all MPs, has certain areas of specific interest. Her staff screens incoming e-mail, passing on those relating to those specific interests, while ‘filing’ the others. She indicated that she saw ALL SNAIL MAIL coming in and so in her case the e-mail did not receive the same treatment as did snail mail. I suspect that this is the case with pretty well all of the MPs.


The MP’s scoreboard is SLOWLY being added to. Perhaps now that Parliament has recessed for the summer, MPs might find the time to respond to our question of how they would vote on the question of Release of Census records. Even though the email and subsequent letter to ALL MPs from Rick Roberts were sent several weeks earlier, at least one MP indicated he had no record of the email, and had not received the snail mail until 25 June 1999. Is it possible that our Canada Post and/or the internal Government mail system could use some improvement?

To date there are twelve MPs who have responded affirmatively to the question and eight negatives. Some of those shown as negative have not responded directly but have had either a staff member or StatsCan respond. These responses, lacking a supportive answer or in fact having a non-answer, have been shown on the scoreboard as a negative. Included in this group are Jean Chretien, Gurbax Malhi, and Preston Manning. We would be more than happy to have those MPs clarify their position and get their responses changed to a tick instead of a cross. Ted White, currently shown with a cross indicates he would vote the way his constituents, in a ‘scientific poll’, indicated the way they wanted him to vote.

The record to date FOR:

Chris AXWORTHY Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar NDP
Colleen BEAUMIER Brampton West-Mississauga LIB
John BRYDEN Wentworth-Burlington LIB
Murray CALDER Dufferin-Peel-Wellington-Grey LIB
Brenda CHAMBERLAIN Guelph-Wellington LIB
Gordon EARLE Halifax West NDP
John HARVARD Charleswood-Assiniboine LIB
Gerald KEDDY South Shore, NS PC
Jason KENNEY Calgary Southeast REF
Peter MILLIKEN Kingston &The Islands LIB
Myron THOMPSON Wild Rose REF
Bob WOOD Nipissing LIB

The record to date AGAINST:

Rob ANDERS Calgary West REF
Sarkis ASSADOURIAN Brampton Centre LIB
Hon. Jean CHRETIEN Saint-Maurice LIB
Gurbax MALHI Bramalea-Gore-Malton LIB
Preston MANNING Calgary REF
David PRATT Nepean-Carleton LIB
John RICHARDSON Perth-Middlesex LIB
Ted WHITE North Vancouver REF

The Scoreboard will continue to be updated as MPs finally respond to the letters from Rick Roberts or yourselves. Please continue to write your MPs and copy any responses to me at .


A number of MPs have indicated they were preparing Private Member Bills to allow for the Release of Census Records to the Public. I would encourage readers to support these MPs in this endeavor by writing letters to them. These MPs are from different political parties and while it would be nice to see them work TOGETHER to present and support a common Bill to the House of Commons, I am unaware of any mechanism in the Rules of the House that would allow this. If any MP reads this perhaps they could let me know if there is or not.

It would be great to see a Private Member Bill regarding Release of Post 1901 Census Records pass in the House of Commons. The realities of our system of Government however, are that Private Member Bills seldom, if ever, get passed. I stand to be corrected but I have heard that in the past twenty-seven years ONLY TWO Private Members Bills have been passed.

What we must do therefore, is to apply enough public pressure, and show enough support for Release to the Public of Post 1901 Census records after a reasonable period, that the Honourable John Manley, Minister for Industry and Minister responsible for Statistics Canada, will present his own Bill on behalf of the Government. Such a Bill presented by Mr. Manley would almost certainly pass, and is likely the ONLY way we will obtain our goal.

That is why it is so important to download and distribute Canada wide, the Formal Petition to the House of Commons. We must ALL WORK TOGETHER to obtain our common goal of Release of Census records to the Public. We want to break all records for numbers of signatures on a single petition to the House of Commons and so we should all be working with the same petition. We have a common goal and it would help to follow a common path to reach that goal. I encourage all Family History Societies to publicize the Formal Petition to the House and to link to the Post 1901 Census Project website. Keep us informed on your efforts with the petitions.


The Post 1901 Census Project website has begun to link to other sites having information on the Census issue. Let us know if you have a website that you have linked to the Post 1901 Census Project.

The Post 1901 Census Project website has now had more than 22,000 hits. Hopefully all those who access it will have their name on a petition.

Until next time. Happy Hunting.

Gordon A. Watts

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