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Sunday, April 23, 2006

Oh, Canada!

A Genealogue Exclusive [What's That?]
The upcoming Canadian census will ask respondents whether they want their answers made public in 2098. Now comes news that privacy zealots in Canada want to make headstones optional as well.

Ontario MP Paul Morrison explains: "We've read that identity thieves sometimes practice 'tombstoning'—copying the names and dates from gravestones and creating false identities with the information. Before it ever happens here, we must stamp it oot . . . I mean out."

A measure before Parliament would require Canadian citizens to declare whether they want their graves marked. Those who "opt in" will have stones placed on their graves 92 years after their deaths. Those who "opt out" will lie forever in unmarked graves. Those who fail to respond will be deposited in a mass grave somewhere within the icy bounds of Nunavut.

"This is just unacceptable," says genealogist Claudine Boucher. "We have a responsibility to leave our descendants accurate and complete records of our lives and deaths. How will they trace their ancestries without these resources?"

"There's a flaw in that logic," counters Morrison. "If your identity is stolen, your descendants won't be yours—they'll be somebody else's. We're just trying to keep somebody else's descendants from thinking you're not their ancestor—even if that means keeping your own descendants from knowing who you are. It's really that simple."

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