In hot water for big spending ways, Canada's top librarian quits

Daniel J. Carom has resigned as Librarian and Archivist for Library and Archives Canada

Credits: QMI


OTTAWA - The head of Library and Archives Canada, in hot water with his boss Heritage Minister James Moore after QMI Agency first reported he billed taxpayers thousands of dollars for private Spanish lessons, has abruptly said hasta la vista.

Daniel Caron, appointed by Moore four years ago, sent a terse e-mail to the 800 or so employees of his institution late Wednesday afternoon announcing his immediate resignation.

"I now believe it is time for someone else to take on and build the necessary support to continue to make the institution increasingly responsive to the digital environment," he said in the six-sentence bilingual e-mail, a copy of which was obtained by QMI.

Moore was similarly terse.

"The minister thanks Mr. Caron for his service and wishes him well in all his future endeavours," Moore's spokesman Sebastien Gariepy said in an e-mailed statement.

Caron's big-spending ways are unlikely to be missed much by his Conservative masters.

Not only did the French- and English-speaking Caron bill taxpayers more than $4,000 in 2011-12 so he could take one-on-one Spanish lessons, he signed a $10,000 contract last year for another year's worth of lessons though a spokesman said no charges were ever actually incurred on that second contract.

Still, Caron appeared to enjoy the taxpayer-funded perks of the job.

Caron enjoyed dining, for example, at the swanky Rideau Club in downtown Ottawa, billing taxpayers more than $2,100 for his 31 visits to the members-only club over the last two years. And if he wasn't eating at the Rideau Club, taxpayers still paid: He expensed more than $8,700 for 35 business lunches elsewhere over the last two years.

Researchers with the opposition NDP calculated that Caron's total bill to taxpayers for his travel and hospitality was more than $87,000 last year alone, including six trips to Europe so he could meet with international archivists. By comparison, his boss, the heritage minister, spent about only half that - $47,755 - on travel and hospitality.

Caron is also unlikely to be missed by the country's professional historians, curators, researchers and others charged with being the stewards of Canada's documentary heritage.

His decision to end an interlibrary loan service in response to government budget cuts was deeply unpopular.

Moreover, he recently imposed a code of conduct on Library and Archives employees which, among other things, required employees to get management's approval to speak or participate in academic conferences and discussions.

Caron could not be reached late Wednesday.

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