SUMMERSIDE – Federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea has dismissed complaints voiced by Liberal Party Critic for Fisheries and Oceans Lawrence MacAulay.
© Guardian photo by Brian McInnis
Egmont MP Gail Shea was one of the speakers at the annual meeting.
MacAulay is calling the Conservative government’s closure of seven of nine DFO fisheries libraries a complete mess and a disgrace.
According to MacAulay, a recent written response to an Order Paper Question has confirmed that DFO has no ability to track which materials have been digitized, has no idea what has happened to thousands of records kept in the libraries, and has spent tens of thousands of dollars closing the libraries down.
“This whole process has obviously been a chaotic mess”, said MacAulay. “Previously the minister had stated that the process was carried out in an organized manner with records being digitized if they couldn’t find a home, and books and journals offered to staff, other libraries, and the public. These statements simply don’t wash. They contradict what staff has said, and the written response I’ve received from the minister has shown that many records are unaccounted for and there is no way to knowwhat records.”
Shea said the nine DFO fisheries libraries were being underutilized and the government has developed a more efficient and less costly way to provide information to those who need it.
“These libraries had an average of five to 12 walk-ins a year,” Shea said. “With technology, people are doing things online. So, collections are being digitized and that’s how people are getting the information they need to know.”
Shea said the limited use of the libraries did not warrant the cost of operation.
“It does not make any kind of sense to operate an operation of that size for 12 walk-ins a year,” the minister said. “So, we can provide the same service faster and more economically through digitization and that’s what we’re doing. We have consulted with Library and Archives Canada so this was all done properly.”
Shea said no documents have been lost or discarded.
“Every original document has been kept,” she said.