That's right: Libraries and Archives Canada employees who attend a genealogy conference on their own time must obtain permission from their managers in advance. The stated reason to ensure there are no conflicts or “other risks to LAC.” The code, which stresses federal employees’ “duty of loyalty” to the “duly elected government,” also spells out how offenders can be reported.
Libraries and Archives Canada employees used to be encouraged to interact with groups interested in everything from genealogy to preserving historical documents. Now the opposite rules are in effect. James Turk, executive director of the Canadian Association of University Teachers, and others say the code is evidence the Harper government is silencing and undermining its professional staff. Libraries and Archives Canada employees are not saying anything in public, for obvious reasons. However, several employees have privately told friends that they are being muzzled. They may not engage in teaching, speak at conferences, or other personal engagements. In fact, they cannot even comment about their employer in blogs, on Facebook, or on other social media.
In fact, the new code of conduct specifically only allows employees to engage in outside activities where "the subject of the activity is not related to the LAC’s mandate or activities." Obviously, speaking at a genealogy conference to discuss the services available at Libraries and Archives Canada is now prohibited. In fact, a Libraries and Archives Canada employee now cannot even speak at a child's school about his or her work during "career day."
All this seems ironic when it is applied at an institution that is supposed to be dedicated to the preservation and sharing of information.
You can read more about this silly code of conduct at http://goo.gl/RaueW.
My thanks to newsletter reader Penny Holt for telling me about these new restrictions.