The federal government’s latest round of “austerity”cuts threaten to undermine Canadian history research and limit the capacity of the public to know this country’s past. While the recent federal budget slashes funding for Library and Archives Canada, Canadian studies programs, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, it also redirects funds for history research into the political control of individual ministers. Within the Conservative Party of Canada’s ideological agenda to reduce the role of government in the lives of Canadians lies a contradictory policy initiative for direct cabinet control over the financing, research, and production of knowledge about Canadian history.
Budget cuts at the municipal, provincial, and federal levels of government across the country have targeted cultural and heritage institutions, threatening the integrity of the capacity of Canada to maintain an adequate understanding of its collective past. Just as Margaret Atwood helped mobilize opposition to proposed cuts to Toronto libraries, the challenge for active historians who oppose such measures is to make their opposition public.