C-321 – Library Materials (Second Reading)
Bill C-321 (Library Materials) – Second Reading – April 23, 2012 Mr. Merv Tweed (Brandon—Souris, CPC) moved that Bill C-321, An Act to amend the Canada Post Corporation Act (library materials), be read the second time and referred to a committee. Bill C-321. Second reading
He said: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to be before the House again to introduce a bill that would amend the Canada Post Corporation Act dealing with library materials.
As many members here know, this is the fourth attempt to get this legislation through the House. We have had great support from members across the way and I am looking forward to that same support today.
Historically, Canada Post has allowed libraries to move books between libraries and constituents at a reduced postal rate. That has been a handshake agreement for many years. In the last several years Canada Post, obviously feeling pressure to increase its revenues, has seen this as one of the areas where it might make a change and reverse back to the full retail price. In my estimation this which devastate our small rural libraries. The bill that I am introducing would solidify that reduced rate and also protect libraries from any other rate increases without a debate in the House to verify how much and when it should take place.
I have said all along that I am not trying to handcuff Canada Post, but I feel that it is important that it recognize first of all, what a great service this is to the communities that take advantage of it, and second, that many small communities could not afford to take the hit if they were to go to full retail prices overnight.
My bill also proposes some adjustments to the definition of library materials. In years gone by, a book was a book, and libraries transferred books back and forth on a regular basis. My bill would expand the definition and over time this would allow Canada Post to reduce its costs in the sense that it will be shipping lighter materials, and obviously weight plays a big role in the cost. My bill would expand the definition from books to magazines, to records, to CDs, CD-ROMs, audio cassettes, video cassettes, DVDs and other audiovisual material.
Having toured a lot of libraries across Canada, I have seen many of them moving into the electronic stage. Their books are being transcribed electronically and over time I suspect that this will be the mode. In the long range perhaps that rate will disappear or at least stay the same for many years to come.
There are some people in Canada who do not have access to libraries either because of where they live, because of a disability, or because of some other reason. Allowing people the right and the ability to access a library across Canada brings the world to them. This bill would benefit a lot of Canadians. I am told that about one million Canadians use this service directly on a regular basis and up to three million people use it on an occasional basis over a year. It is important that everyone in Canada have access to a library’s resources. I see it that way. I also see it as a way for libraries to share material.
I will give the House one instance that brought this to my attention. I have a small community library in my riding. It was brought to my attention during a campaign that this rate increase may happen. The annual cost to the library was about $1,800 and to see the rate change overnight would probably cost $15,000 to $18,000. The library cannot afford it. My bill would attempt to fix the rate.
I appreciate the good work that Canada Post does in providing this service. I encourage libraries to make people aware of the service and I encourage people to access a library. I travelled to Alberta last week and the library there told me this is a good way to build traffic because people do have to go in.
I am not sure I started the expression, but I have used it many times. Many years ago, if there was an elevator is a community, it was a thriving community. Well, we know what has happened in the past several years, sadly. However, if we have a library, maybe it will make up the difference. That is the gist of what I am trying to do.
I want to thank my colleagues on all sides of the House. I have received tremendous support so far. The last time I introduced the bill, it got to the first reading in the Senate, and then due to changes in the environment, electorally, I have to start again. I am prepared to do that.
I want to thank all the people who have written letters and have had libraries write letters of encouragement. I look forward to debate on this.
I will not take any more of anyone else’s time. I appreciate the opportunity, and I look forward to the bill going forward.