Information Policy Under the Harper Government Part 1: Cuts to LAC/Caron’s Leadership

Cuts to LAC/Caron’s Leadership

One Line Description: Terrible Management and Significant Underfunding Crippling our National Library and Archive

Short Summary:  Through a combination of poor management (former LAC Head Daniel Caron) and significant budget cuts (from $117 million in 2012-2013 FY[1] down to $93 million in FY 2015-16[2]), the Harper Government significantly reduced LAC’s ability to play a leadership role in the Canadian library and archival communities and for the organization to carry out core functions.

Details:  In 2009 the Harper Government appointed career bureaucrat Daniel Caron to head LAC, despite the fact he held no background in either library and information science or archival studies. Caron consistently demonstrated little understanding of the two professions suggesting in 2010 that both may become irrelevant, and urging that a complete reinvention of information professionals dismissing the long and evolving history of both.[3]  Further indicating his lack of understanding, in 2012 in testimony before a Parliamentary Committee, Caron suggested that the work of cataloguing materials including archival materials had become unnecessary.[4]  Under Caron’s dismal leadership of LAC was coupled with severe budget cuts eliminating roughly 20% of the organization’s budget in 2012 and causing staffing levels to fall from 1,117 in FY 2012-13[5] to 8,67 in FY 2015-16.[6]  The budget and staff cuts have left LAC unable to carry out core functions.  50% of its digitization staff was eliminated, and one estimate suggested that it would take 300 to 700 years for the organization to digitize its holdings.[7]  In 2013, LAC was unable to make available the 1921 Census data without partnering with a private company (Ancestry.ca).[8]  If LAC can’t, on its own, make available a 90 year old Census document, how will the organization play a key role in the country’s sesquicentennial – a role the Harper Government has consistently suggested it will play.[9]

[1]  Library and Archives Canada. Report on Plans and Priorities 2012-13, p. 15. http://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/rpp/2012-2013/inst/bal/bal-eng.pdf

[2]  Library and Archives Canada. Report on Plans and Priorities 2015-16. http://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/about-us/report-plans-priorities/rpp-2015-2016/Pages/rpp-2015-16.aspx

[3]  Daniel Caron. “Memory Institutions in the 21st Century: The Need for Convergence and Collaboration.” http://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/news/speeches/Pages/Memory-Institutions-in-the-21st-Century-The-Need-for-Convergence-and-Collaboration.aspx

[4]  Daniel Caron. Evidence before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Official Languages. 41st Parl. 1 Sess., Nov. 6, 2012.

[5]  Library and Archives Canada. Report on Plans and Priorities 2012-13, p. 15. http://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/rpp/2012-2013/inst/bal/bal-eng.pdf

[6]  Library and Archives Canada. Report on Plans and Priorities 2015-16. http://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/about-us/report-plans-priorities/rpp-2015-2016/Pages/rpp-2015-16.aspx

[7]  Save Library and Archives Canada. “Digitization.” http://www.savelibraryarchives.ca/issues-digitization.aspx

[8]  LAC. “Census of Canada 1921 Now Available to Researchers.” http://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/news/Pages/2013/08-1921-census.aspx

[9]  LAC. Report on Plans and Priorities 2014-15. http://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/about-us/report-plans-priorities/rpp-2014-2015/Pages/rpp-2014-15.aspx#_Toc378592486