[meteorite-list] CALLING ALL CANADIANS

From: dean bessey <deanbessey_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Thu Apr 22 09:47:09 2004
Message-ID: <LAW2-F77JKocJqj0CYi00001ebd_at_hotmail.com>

There is a lot of talk about meteorite laws and Canadian laws in general.
Everybody knows that it is responsible for the destruction of scientific
data and quite often blame is unfairly placed on the lap of the scientific
community - many of whom dont support the law any more than we do. I admit
that I am guilty of this also and for that I apologize. Truth is, a
researcher in Canada has no ability to change the law and is not responsible
for its creation anyway. Complaining to a museum or researcher will not
really help. It is the elected government that makes the laws and is the
only institution with the ability to change them. Most members of the
canadian parliament are not aware of the destruction that draconian
meteorite export laws do to science and collectors alike. What I suggest is
that people start writing their MPs and complain where it would do the most
benefit. Here is a link to the Canadian government:
>From here you can contact and MP in canada via, email, fax, or snail mail.
The minister of culture and prime minister might be good places to
concentrate as there are over 300 MPs in Canada. What is important is that
the law get revoked so that other desert countries dont get ideas and have
their meteorites remaining in the desert like Australia willingly allows to
happen. Revoking the Canadian law would set a good precident toward
prevently the hobby and scientific community getting shut down world wide.
Here is a draft letter that I wrote that would be good to send to an MP.
Please feel free to add to it or make comments.
To Whom it may concern:

I wish to inform you of a destructive aspect of the Canadian cultural act
and ask that you help take steps to correct it.
This situation involves meteorites found in Canada. To start with they
should not even be listed as cultural property anyway. Meteorites are not
Canadian and some cosmic fluke in space a billion years ago that made them
happen to fall in Canada rather than in say, Morocco, donít in any way
affect our culture. In fact if I found a meteorite in Canada and told
somebody that it is from Morocco (Or anywhere else in the world) nobody
could tell the difference any (It also works vice versa). Meteorites are not
like cultural objects that shaped our heritage or is in any way a part of
our history. They are simply rocks that fell in Canada - and except for the
fact that they wither away faster in Canada than in desert countries
(Meteorites usually contain Iron which rust and otherwise quickly weather
away) because of the harsh Canadian weather they are not different from
meteorites found any place else in the world. There are no true ties to

Theoretically there is a process in which meteorites can be exported from
Canada, but the reality is that it a long and difficult (some would say
impossible) process and is not something that promotes the scientific study
of meteorites. As a result Canadian meteorites have little value. There is
no incentive to look for meteorites. Canada is a farming country and
meteorites are often dug up by farmers. Farmers in Texas, Arizona and other
places relatively often hear about somebody who dug up a meteorite while
farming and got thousands of dollars for it. As a result farmers in the
United States often keep an eye out for unusual rocks that they dig up. This
does not happen in Canada because a Canadian meteorite is worth $500. Thatís
what the government will pay for a Canadian meteorite. Nobody else can buy
it because they cant sell it (Since there is a very limited market in
Canada). So farmers donít keep the same lookout in Canada as they do in the
US. The single exception to this that proves what I am saying here involves
Canadaís most recently found meteorite - known as HAGERSVILLE. This
meteorite was dug up on a persons property and a prominent Canadian
scientists had a press conference and party at the individuals home and a
particularly good job was done promoting the meteorites and a lot of guests
were invited. The one thing that everybody who saw this event on TV
remembers was a comment that the visiting scientist said which was "Iron
Meteorites usually sell for US$1 a gram". Wither that is true or not can be
debated but for the next couple of months after that I know of two
institutions in Canada (As well as myself since I am one of Canadaís few
meteorite dealers) had hundreds of people hoping that a new rock that they
dug up was worth a years salary. By removing the monetary incentive we are
allowing many meteorites in Canada to deteriorate and rust away and
therefore never studied or collected by anybody. The inclusion of meteorites
in the Canadian cultural act is responsible for destroying meteorites rather
than keeping them in Canada.

It also hampers Canadian science and Canadian meteorite collection. If some
Canadian institution wanted to do a trade with dealer outside of Canada for
a Canadian meteorite it would not be feasible because the Canadian
institution are also bound by the laws and while they may be offered a good
deal cannot make a trade without many months of delay (And with a low chance
of it getting approved) so while most other institutions in the world can
improve their collection in this way, Canadian institutions can not. It
hampers a Canadian institutions ability to work with outside institutions
with scientific projects involving Canadian meteorites, and hampers the
ability of more researchers that can study Canadian meteorites since
currently only study that can be made using the limited funding in Canada
can be used to study Canadian meteorites and not outside institutions who
may have more researchers with free time or resources that can be used to
study the meteorites also.

So as you can see, by including meteorites in the Canadian cultural act does
more damage to Canadian meteorites (And the study of them) than it helps.

In addition to hampering Canadian science it also hampers science in other
countries. Examples include giving searchers who search deserts (Where
meteorites are much more likely to be found than in Canada because of a
dryer environment that preserves meteorites much longer and the extra
visibility allows you to search larger areas in a shorter period of time)
incentive to fake things like where they found meteorites because they know
that if a country like Canada can make laws concerning meteorites then other
countries might make similar laws which would be detrimental to their
business. Since a meteorite has no national properties nobody can tell where
a meteorite was found unless the finder tells them anyway. (On the same note
a person finding a meteorite in Canada could easily tell the world that he
found the rock a hundred miles to the south in the states and nobody could
tell the difference - and thereby be able to immediately sell his rock.

If you still donít believe me, there is one other country that also has anti
export laws. That is Australia. A large desert like the Australian desert
has thousands of meteorites and none are found because it is not worth
anybodyís while to go look for them because after finding a meteorite in
Australia, the finder then has to go through the long and expensive process
of getting an export permit. So Australian meteorites also remain out in the
desert without anybody searching for them while countries like Morocco, Oman
and Libya are responsible for huge advancements in the field of meteorite

So I ask you to arrange to have this law looked into and hopefully have it
revoked so that Canada can get a few more meteorites found within its


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Received on Fri 09 Nov 2001 12:29:37 PM PST

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