Dr. Dawg

National Library: a new chapter?

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The high-living Daniel Caron, a man with no qualifications whatsoever in library science or archival studies, is stepping down as the head of Library and Archives Canada. But not really for the right reasons. His blithering incompetence wasn’t an issue in his resignation, but it should have been.

Obviously no public servant should have his hand in the cookie jar, and forced resignation is the lightest of penalties for that sort of thing. Helping himself to taxpayers’ money for private Spanish lessons, lavish meals at the Rideau Club and expensive travel would seem to qualify as cookie-monstering, all right, and on a somewhat grander scale than Bev Oda’s $15 orange juice or even the excesses of Senator Duffy. Caron’s not even a politician, for crying out loud, and $170,000 is a lot of scratch.

A Harper appointee, Caron was in the news recently for foisting a totalitarian Code of Conduct on his employees, curtailing their off-duty professional activities. Caron insisted that a “duty of loyalty” to the government made their interactions with colleagues “high risk.”

Apparently a duty of loyalty, at least for himself, doesn’t require an undue concern for the public monies entrusted to him.

It was his actual job performance, however, that had the professionals in the field aghast. As I noted not long ago, he simply ripped and tore. He eliminated interlibrary loans, effectively denying access to LAC resources to Canadians across the country. He permitted no new acquisitions since 2009, and has hived off historically priceless items to private institutions. Caron, in fact, has just been all-around bad news, and we can now breathe a cautious sigh of relief. AdiĆ³s.

But “cautious” is, of course, the operative word. Harper is not interested in probity or competence or abilities or relevant expertise. Blind loyalty from his apparatchiks is all that he requires, until they goof up enough to cause serious embarrassment—at which point the Conservative bus comes a-rolling, and the inevitable push comes to shove.

Will we get an actual professional heading up LAC soon, one who can repair the wide swath of destruction that Caron caused during his lamentable reign? Or just another loyal, incompetent hack? I’m afraid to answer what most people by now will consider merely rhetorical questions.

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This page contains a single entry by Dr. Dawg published on May 16, 2013 11:55 AM.

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