What Happened to the Arar Commission Website?

Hello Folks!
Our lovely government is at it again apparently.
The current victim? The Maher Arar Commission website.
It’s nowhere to be found! It used to be here: http://www.ararcommission.ca but alas, in attempting to answer a reference question this morning, I find the website is gone. At least we still have: http://www.maherarar.ca, but can we say with certainty that all of the previous website’s contents are available there? I’d like to know whether the Commission’s contents have been captured by the National Library. Isn’t it legally obligated to be there? I certainly hope so. I wonder to whom we should direct our inquiries about its whereabouts.
Happy St. Pattys Day!


  1. It’s archived by Library and Archives Canada. Here is the link to the last captured version: http://epe.lac-bac.gc.ca/100/206/301/pco-bcp/commissions/maher_arar/07-09-13/www.ararcommission.ca/default.htm

  2. There have been similar info-disasters in the past. Webmasters, in the interests of the imperatives of their profession, periodically “houseclean” without thinking about the archival aspects of dumping unique content. Thank goodness for the libraries and archives which are actively harvesting this content, but I wonder what we’re losing.
    Are the information professions doing an effective job of communicating with content creators about the need for thoughtful content management? Perhaps not.

  3. Thank heavens for Library and Archives Canada! Question: is it standard federal government procedure to contact LAC before junking a .gc.ca site?

  4. Great to see you here Sarah.
    I still have that book for you.

  5. Hi,

    Glad to see someone pointed out that the Arar Inquiry’s web site is archived. Your readers may also be interested in the Iacobucci Inquiry site at http://www.iacobucciinquiry.ca and my blog about not just Maher Arar’s case but the cases of three other Canadians — Ahmad El Maati, Abdullah Almalki and Muayyed Nureddin — that site is http://www.kerrypither.ca.


  6. I think the harvest is automated. LAC uses the same software as the Internet Archive, but uses different criteria. They harvest deeper and less widely. I’ve asked a buddy of mine who actually works with the team at LAC to add his comments to this discussion.
    In Ontario, the Legislative Library also harvests government documents for the province. I believe that their process looks more like collection development, though – they actively scan the publications lists, identify material to be collected, and then download it into a repository for cataloguing.

  7. There is now a process in place whereby Library and Archives Canada archives each Commission of Inquiry website at the conslusion of the commission. All websites that have been archived to date, as well as current commissions and a selection of historical commission reports, are available via the website of the Privy Council Office, at: http://www.pco-bcp.gc.ca/index.asp?lang=eng&page=information&sub=commissions
    The Privy Council Office is also currently engaged in a project in collaboration with LAC to digitize and post all commission reports from 1870 to the present. So far, about 70 historical reports have been posted, and the rest are in progress. If anyone has further questions they are welcome to contact me directly at tania.costanzo@pco-bcp.gc.ca

  8. As Wendy mentioned, the Ontario Legislative Library does capture and archive web-based government documents as part of its collection building activities. Our policy is to convert all documents to pdf. We have only sporadically captured web sites – the party and candidate sites for the 2007 election are an example. Where we have had a ‘heads up’ that something significant is about to disappear we have also tried to archive it – the Citizens’ Assembly site (http://www.ontla.on.ca/library/repository/site/ont/1000/CitizensAssembly/en-ca/home%20page.aspx.htm) is an example. Our immediate concern with website capture is selecting appropriate technology to use – we are looking at a couple of options, including Heritrix – the software used by LAC and Internet Archive, I believe.