March 24, 2011

Will election send book rate bill back to the drawing board?

On March 9, Bill C-509, an Act to amend the Canada Post Corporation Act, passed third reading with unanimous support in the House of Commons. The Bill was first introduced in 2007 by Merv Tweed, Member of Parliament for Brandon—Souris, Manitoba, and will help to protect the Library Book Rate, which sets a lower postal rate for mailing library materials.

Normally after attaining approval from the Commons, the next step in the life of a Bill is to pass it on to the Senate, where it would receive the sober second thought of the upper chamber.  But, with a federal election looming on the horizon, the bill may die again.  "I'm optimistic that it won't but, as with all elections... all business ceases," Tweed said last week. "We'll have to start again, as much as I don't want to do that I will, but I'm confident that we're going to get it through..."  The bill has died on the order table once before, when the election was called in 2008.

The Library Book Rate is a Canada Post service that has, since 1939, provided a reduced rate for mailing library books between libraries and from libraries to their users. Canada Post currently reviews its support on an annual basis. Over 2,000 libraries actively use the Library Book Rate and an estimated one million Canadians benefit from it annually.

Bill C-509 would protect the Library Book Rate, through the Canada Post Corporation Act. In addition, the Bill would also expand the Library Book Rate program to include non-print materials such as CDs, CD-ROMS, and DVDs.  For Alloway Library and its users, the bill would have an important role in maintaining reasonable costs associated with inter library loans.


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