Going digital only: CALL responds to possibility that print publication of annual Statutes of Canada may be discontinued

From Connie Crosby’s, (President of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries (CALL)) letter to Minister of Public Services and Procurement Canada wherein she explains the concern Canadian law librarians have about the possibility that the annual Statutes of Canada will stop being published in print:

Recordkeeping is an important foundation of any advanced democracy. In Canada, the Publication of Statutes Act and its regulations were designed to ensure that all Canadians were provided with long term access to archival versions of our statutes. This law was necessary at the time to ensure that the medium chosen (paper) conformed to the best standards known at the time for archival formats. In a common law system history matters; this means that all citizens are entitled to long term access to our statutes, and the government must keep this squarely at front of mind at all times.

The question is, what law is necessary today to ensure that the medium chosen (digital) conforms to the best standards known at the time for archiving?

And on CALL recommendations in the Crosby letter:

If the government continues on the path towards “digital only” publication of the Statutes of Canada, we would encourage you to REPLACE the Publication of Statutes Act with a comprehensive plan that considers:

  • maintaining a small print run for long-term preservation purposes;

  • the future of the Canada Gazette, and in particular the Canada Gazette Part Three which provides our only official online version of annual statutes, as well as the helpful Table of Proclamations;

  • the future of the Table of Public Statutes. This Table was published as a stationary publication in the Statutes of Canada each year. The online version on Justice Laws is not sustainable in its current format – an annual archived version could be contemplated;

  • what will be the official version of our Statutes of Canada moving forward in a digitalage?

  • a way to maintain the side-by-side, English/French comparison, which can be an important part of some statutory interpretation exercises, while still meeting accessibility requirements.

H/T to and for more, see Michel-Adrien Sheppard’s Slaw post. — Joe

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