I want to sincerely thank all the members of the committee and joint co-chairs.
Thank you very much for the invitation to appear before you as the nominee to become the next parliamentary librarian. I am honoured to be here and to be considered for this position. I feel that I have been preparing for this job for the last 30 years. I am very pleased to have the opportunity to tell you about my background and how I believe it has prepared me for the challenge, and to answer any questions you might have.
I would be thrilled to be the successor to Madam L’Heureux, who has so ably led the library since 2012.
You will know from my resume that I obtained my master's and doctorate in sociology from the University of Toronto, where I developed a deep appreciation for the importance of quality research and analysis, as well as the value of library resources.
I began my career on Parliament Hill as a committee clerk in 1991, where I worked closely with analysts from the library to provide non-partisan, professional support to many standing and special committees. I quickly came to appreciate the importance of the work of the library.
Once I was promoted to management in 1997, I worked closely with my library colleagues to ensure that committees received the best support possible.
Working with committees gave me a deep understanding of the needs of parliamentarians to be effective in their work, as well as a keen appreciation for the multiplicity of stakeholders in the parliamentary environment, including witnesses, government departments and interested members of the public.
As Principal Clerk of Committees from 1999 to 2015, I led a team of procedural clerks and other employees supporting some 20 committees, while also being deeply involved in strategic and corporate files, both within the Senate administration and in support of the Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration.
In 2015, I became the principal clerk of the Chamber Operations and Procedure Office. In this capacity, I am responsible for the administrative, procedural and informational support to sittings of the Senate, as well as for providing procedural advice to the Speaker of the Senate, all other senators and their staff. I am also responsible for the production and publication of the official records of the Senate, including the Journals and Debates, in digital and hard copy, in both official languages.
I have led the directorate through technological and organizational transformation, developing and implementing a new information system, which supports the legislative functions of the Senate.
The creation, capture and management of parliamentary information are an essential part of my current responsibilities, and the skills required to be effective in my current job would serve me well should I become the next parliamentary librarian.
In both committees and Chamber operations, outreach and education have been at the core of my work. I, along with members of my team, have developed and offered procedural training seminars to parliamentarians and their staff on a wide variety of topics over the last 20 years. I have also reached out to the library and the House of Commons, as well to parliamentary relations officers in the public service, to invite them to our seminars, as I believe profoundly in the value of sharing knowledge, collaboration and learning from one another. I have developed numerous educational and training tools, many in collaboration with the Library of Parliament.
For over a decade, I have been a parliamentary advisor to one of the library's flagship programs: the Teachers' Institute for Canadian Parliamentary Democracy. In that capacity, I worked closely with my library colleagues to develop and deliver the committee simulation that wraps up this program.
I have been very fortunate to be able to share my knowledge of Parliament with colleagues across the country, foreign legislators, and many groups, of all ages, who come to the Hill. It would be a true pleasure to lead an organization that has education and outreach as a core function.
I believe that my background has prepared me for the position for which I've been nominated in three key ways.
First, I have a deep knowledge and understanding of the clients of the library, including parliamentarians, committees, and parliamentary associations. I understand that clients have different needs and ways that they prefer to be served and that the library must be flexible in meeting those needs.
Second, I understand the parliamentary environment in all its complexity. I appreciate where the library fits into that environment—directed by the two Speakers, advised by this committee, and serving both Houses in a non-partisan way. I am cognizant of the many important relationships the parliamentary librarian must develop and sustain to be effective, including with the Parliamentary Budget Officer, the Parliamentary Protective Service, Public Services and Procurement Canada, and of course, the Senate and the House of Commons. Throughout my career I have looked for ways to collaborate with many partners on and off the Hill, and I would build on these relationships and continue to work in a collaborative way in my new role.
Third, as a leader and as a manager I have had the privilege of working with and developing agile, innovative, and effective teams to support Parliament. I have spent my career working with and for parliamentarians of all political parties and groups, developing relationships of trust and providing non-partisan, professional support. I would look forward to working with the members of this committee and all parliamentarians if I am confirmed in this position.
I have huge respect for the library, its executive team, and its employees, and I would be committed to continuing to build flexible, engaged, professional teams with a focus on excellence—all qualities that I know are essential to the success of the library.
The organization will be faced with many challenges during the coming year and thereafter, including the closure of Centre Block and the library's iconic main branch and the opening of new branches in the West Block and the Government Conference Centre. The visitor welcome centre will open and the tourists will have to be reconceived, as Canadians will no longer have physical access to Centre Block.
I know that Madam L’Heureux and her team have already done a great deal to prepare for these changes, and I would look forward to working with my colleagues at the library to ensure that Canadians and visitors from around the world continue to have memorable experiences when they come to both the Senate and the House of Commons in their new buildings.
Of course, it is service to parliamentarians that is at the very heart of the library's mandate. My professional experience has prepared me well to lead the organization in meeting your needs and those of committees and parliamentary associations. I have always made consultations with parliamentarians central to my work, for example, by getting regular input from committee chairs and deputy chairs on how to improve services, and by reaching out to new parliamentarians to identify their needs and provide the information, training, and tools they require to be effective in their roles. If I'm confirmed as the parliamentary librarian, I would look forward to working with you and both Speakers to ensure that the needs of all parliamentarians are well understood and met.
I would also make it a priority to reach out across the country in all its diversity so that the Library of Parliament becomes better known to Canada's best and brightest as a place they might want to work. I know that the library has outstanding employees who are deeply committed to serving Parliament, parliamentarians, and the public. I would like energetic and engaged subject-matter experts, librarians, and other professionals from a variety of backgrounds to know that the Library of Parliament is a dynamic, healthy workplace where they can have exciting, rewarding careers in the service of Canada.
It would truly be a great honour and privilege to become the next parliamentary librarian and to work with its executive team to lead the outstanding professionals who make such an important contribution to Canada by supporting you and our Parliament.
I look forward to your questions.
Thank you very much.
I was reading the transcripts from past meetings to get some of that information, and looking at the annual reports. If my memory serves me correctly, the budget would be in the neighbourhood of $48 million this year, with some 330 or so FTEs.
That being said, as you are probably aware, in terms of the details of how those resources are currently allocated, and where the priorities are, until I'm in the position I am really not well positioned to give any real assessment of what would or would not be appropriate on a go-forward basis. I have a lot to learn about how that organization is currently using its resources, and I would want to consult obviously with my team and with parliamentarians, too, to see if we are putting the resources in the right places: Do we need to shift or not? Do we have the resources we need?
In terms of my experience, you'll know from my CV that I have run significant directorates in the past, but certainly not as large as this institution. Depending on where I was working, there were somewhere between 30 and 40 full-time equivalents, and budgets of $2 million to $3 million.
I think what's really important, though, is that I have had the great privilege of being invited by the Senate to be very much involved in corporate files and in budgetary matters well outside of my own areas of responsibility. This was both by being asked to be the lead senior manager in terms of the legislative sector on HR and finance files for a number of years but also being asked to clerk the subcommittee of our internal economy committee on not only committee budgets and the allocation of funds between budgets—which, for budgets, would normally be an amount allocated between $2 million and $4 million a year—but also the subcommittee on the Senate estimates. I was privileged to be the clerk of that, and I had an opportunity to be involved in supporting the Senate in developing its budget.
It's an area where I feel very comfortable. Even though I don't pretend to be a finance expert, I am nonetheless very comfortable in that domain.
Thank you for the question, Mr. Ouellette.
As I have not yet taken over the position, I would have to check whether any consultations have been held and, if so, what they focused on, what methods were used, and so on. I still don't have the basic information.
That said, it seems to me that there are a number of ways to consult people. As a sociologist, I have often found ways to obtain data on the population and on a variety of topics. I find that it's often personal contact with users, such as parliamentarians, that makes it possible to obtain the most information.
This committee exists and it's active. It could help hold those consultations, but there are other possibilities. Of course, you receive documents from the library, including analyses. We will have to look into ways to get feedback from our users. That is something I would discuss with my team to decide what the best way to obtain that information is. Will we do it in a personalized manner? Will we attach something to our documents? There are several ways to go about it. It is something to be explored.
As I mentioned in my presentation, that feedback, those contacts and consultations are fundamental aspects of my management method. I will certainly continue to implement them if my appointment to this position is confirmed.
Certainly, in terms of consultation with parliamentarians, as I mentioned, I think this committee is certainly one place for that.
Until I have actually been fully briefed by the Library in terms of what they're doing now to consult with parliamentarians, I'm not sure that.... I certainly don't have a fully developed plan yet on how I would do it, but I do know that there are many avenues for those consultations and it could be everything from a client survey to all parliamentarians asking are you satisfied or are you not, and what can we do better, to face-to-face meetings. We know we have the library ambassador program, where there are employees of the Library who meet with individual parliamentarians to find out about the services of Parliament. Is that an avenue where they could bring back feedback on how to improve?
We could work through committee chairs and deputy chairs and, of course, I would have regular contact with the Speakers who will provide direction to me.
I think it would be a multi-faceted approach recognizing that different individuals have, first of all, different ways of liking to share feedback and also recognizing that you're all very busy people. You don't have a lot of time, so is it a question of getting feedback when you're in one of the branches and finding out whether we met your need or not, and whether this document was what you were looking for?
I would look at a whole lot of different ways of doing it, but until I actually find out what's being done now, I don't think I'm as well based to make a final determination. This is just exploration at this point, but I can assure you parliamentarians will be well consulted and they will know the services that we offer, which will continue to improve.