The editorial appears in the May 21, 2013 issue of the Toronto Star.
As the head of Library and Archives Canada, a seemingly sleepy position, Daniel Caron was remarkably controversial. He stepped down Wednesday after being castigated by Heritage Minister James Moore for spending $4,500 of federal funds on Spanish lessons. Shortly thereafter, the New Democrats released a document detailing his “titanic expenses” — $174,000 over the past two years.
His departure, which won’t be widely grieved, ends a dark period in the department’s history. But it also opens up an opportunity to reverse the decline of an important institution.
From the start Caron, who is an economist without training in information science, was an unpopular choice for the job. What’s needed is “a committed librarian or archivist, ideally one who considers working with documentary heritage as a vocation,” says Bibliographical Society of Canada president Janet Friskney.
That makes good sense. The chief librarian and archivist is the head curator of Canada’s history. What she cannot protect is often unrecoverable. Given this government’s penchant for cuts, it’s particularly important that whoever is in the job is able at least to explain what’s being lost.
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