Canada's chief archivist Leslie Weir personally ordered content and webpages she deemed “offensive” to be rewritten or removed from the national archives altogether. Weir was appointed in 2019 and makes close to $250,000 annually to preserve and protect the national archives.
“We need to discuss having a disclaimer on the website about having content that may offend people,” Weir wrote in a June 9, 2021 staff email. “I feel very strongly about that.”
Weir described the need to censor as an “urgent situation.”
“Much of the content on the Library and Archives Canada website reflects the time at which it was written,” said Weir. “We understand much of this outdated historical content no longer reflects today’s context and may be offensive to many.”
Access to Information documents obtained by independent news site Blacklock's Reporter showed confusion and objections to the purge coming from Library and Archives Canada staffers.
“This is an enormous undertaking with over 7,000 web pages,” wrote Weir.
The subjective nature of the memory-holing of historical data confounded employees, as shared by Blacklock's:
“Leslie has asked for us to remove all offensive content from the website. We are scrambling today to identify what that might be.”
“We are going to be doing a more thorough search of offensive content on all our platforms,” emailed one manager. “The only direction we received from Leslie was ‘offensive content,’” said another.
“Do we have a definition?” asked a manager. “This is not the way to do this.”
Some of the censored or altered content was in relation to First Nations and Indigenous material, including historical figures involved in residential schools.
Though it's not entirely clear why Weir went on the censorship tear, it was previously reported by Blacklock's that Weir took a Communist Party-sponsored junket to China right after being appointed to the national archives.
The September 2019 trip featured Weir as a guest of the National Library of China in a celebration of “socialist culture.”
The Beijing conference was held only weeks before Communist Party librarians admitted to book burning.