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Irreplaceable research lost from purged federal libraries

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – The contents of seven world class Department of Fisheries and Oceans libraries across the country were supposed to have been digitized before being purged to save money. But there’s now concern some irreplaceable records have been lost forever.

Scientists say records and research created by tens of millions of taxpayer dollars have been burned, put in landfills, or given away. Green Party MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head, Andrew Weaver, who is also a climate scientist, says while Ottawa claimed any useful information was saved electronically, much was left out. There are reports only one in twenty books in the department’s collection were electronically captured.

“This is the dismantling of what’s so fundamental to our democracy, which is information so that the people can be informed about the policies that are being made by their elected leaders. As soon as you start to do this, it’s a dismantling of democracy, and frankly I think people should be in the streets over this,” says Weaver, adding “it’s a structural change in our democracy through dismantling the past to recreate the future in the image that you would like it to be. This is scary stuff. This is Orwellian stuff, and it needs to stop.”

The documents, some dating back to the 18-hundreds, were destroyed to save around 430-thousand dollars. Among the things lost are “long records of field crew reports, historical records from ship logs, people who have donated their entire libraries,” according to Weaver.

Ben West of ForestEthics is equally as disturbed by the allegations and what it means to researchers looking at British Columbia’s oceans and environment. “Harper’s war on science has got to end. He will pay a political price for what he has done to bring tankers to the coast,” warns West.

Weaver adds the Harper Government has also gotten rid of the DFO’s contaminants research program as well as the Hazardous Materials Information Review Commission.

On their website, The DFO claims there were minimal visits to the seven libraries.