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Lucie Moncion
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Hon. Lucie Moncion
2018-06-14 12:01
Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome.
You have received the agenda. Today, we are meeting with Heather Lank, nominee for the position of parliamentary librarian.
Right now, eight people want to ask questions. Normally, the time allocated is five minutes per person. Should more people want to take the floor and we are running out of time, I will possibly decrease the speaking time, just so that everyone has time to ask questions. We will see how things go.
Ms. Lank is the nominee for the position of parliamentary librarian.
Do you have opening remarks?
Heather P. Lank
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Heather P. Lank
2018-06-14 12:02
Yes.
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.
Lucie Moncion
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Hon. Lucie Moncion
2018-06-14 12:12
Thank you, Ms. Lank.
We will now begin the question and answer period.
I will reduce everyone's speaking time, as other senators and members have added themselves to the list. So instead of having the usual five minutes, you will have three and a half minutes. We will see how we can get organized, within these limitations, to give you all an opportunity to ask your questions.
The first person to take the floor is Senator Mercer.
Terry M. Mercer
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Hon. Terry M. Mercer
2018-06-14 12:12
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Dr. Lank, congratulations for your nomination. I should say on behalf of my Senate colleagues, we will miss you in the Senate. I will miss you in our daily meetings, the scroll meetings, which you ably chair. Thank you for that.
I have a simple question. I've been very critical of this committee over the past number of years because of its lack of activity and its lack of involvement in assisting and managing the library.
Can you give me a quick capsule of what you see the role of the committee is in helping you, as the librarian?
Heather P. Lank
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Heather P. Lank
2018-06-14 12:13
Thank you very much, Senator Mercer, for the question.
As you know, from a legislative point of view, this committee is in place to advise the Speakers. However, it is a fantastic forum for me to have the possibility to consult with you, as parliamentarians, about your needs and whether we are meeting your needs, or if I have ideas that I want to explore with you.
I was so pleased to see that this committee was organized recently. I had put my name forward for this job, hoping that if it came to pass, this committee would be available and interested in having that relationship with me, so that I would be able to serve you, get input from you, and ultimately, be able to bring what I learn to the Speakers and really work in collaboration with you.
I see it as an extremely positive forum for me to be able to do my job better, to learn from you, and hopefully, be able to meet your needs.
Terry M. Mercer
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Hon. Terry M. Mercer
2018-06-14 12:14
Thank you, Chair.
Lucie Moncion
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Hon. Lucie Moncion
2018-06-14 12:14
Mr. Saroya.
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CPC (ON)
Thank you Madam Chair, and thank you, Ms. Lank, for your nomination.
What is next? You're the only person nominated. Where does the process take us from here?
Heather P. Lank
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Heather P. Lank
2018-06-14 12:14
I should probably defer to other colleagues in terms of where things go after today's meeting.
As you can probably imagine, my focus was much more in getting ready for today's meeting and hoping that I would be able to get the support of this committee, so that when you decide on whether or not to support my candidacy, it would be positive, as I hope it will be. Of course, then you would report it back to the House of Commons. Being a joint committee, it would also normally be reported back to the Senate. If all goes well, I would hope that my nomination would be confirmed and then I would be in my position at an appropriate date.
View Bob Saroya Profile
CPC (ON)
Assuming you're confirmed today, what would be one thing you would be known for? What is the unique stuff that you bring to this table that would help both sides of the chamber—something that hasn't happened in the past? Is there anything unique that you bring to the table?
Heather P. Lank
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Heather P. Lank
2018-06-14 12:16
I would be loath to say that I bring anything necessarily unique, but of course every candidate for any job is unique. We all bring our own backgrounds, but I do think that my background, in terms of understanding Parliament, knowing the needs of parliamentarians, and having a very strong background in education and outreach, is a combination that is quite unique.
I have 27 years of experience on the Hill, and I've made it a point to build relationships across the Hill and outside the Hill. There's a very strong foundation there. Also, I have a network of people internationally I have benefited from in my current role. I would continue to build on that collaborative approach.
I think the other thing I would bring, more than anything else, is an excitement. I cannot tell you how thrilled I am to be nominated for this position, and to potentially have the opportunity to lead an organization that is so important to your success. I would want to share my excitement about Parliament and about the Library with Canadians and with visitors. I have ideas for ways to make that experience of coming to Parliament—even after we've closed—to be particularly memorable.
For me, it's a question of investing in excellence and making this institution even more dynamic and exciting than it already is.
Lucie Moncion
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Hon. Lucie Moncion
2018-06-14 12:17
Thank you.
Mr. Iacono, please.
View Angelo Iacono Profile
Lib. (QC)
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Ms. Lank, thank you for coming to tell us a bit about yourself today.
Big changes are coming. I have several short questions and I will put them to you all at once, and then I will give you time to answer.
What is your vision of the Library of Parliament's future?
What will you focus your attention and efforts on?
What are the library's current and future challenges?
How will official languages be used at the library, be it in terms of documentation, employees or work in general?
Heather P. Lank
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Heather P. Lank
2018-06-14 12:18
Thank you very much for your questions.
I have already talked a bit about my vision. I aim for excellence and want to continue to build innovative and flexible teams to support all parliamentarians. I also want to ensure that Canadians, the public and visitors have access to this institution, even during Centre Block's closure.
As far as challenges go, there are many of them. Despite the renovations and all the changes, it will be extremely important to continue to provide you with quality services. You need to be assured that, if you put a request to the library, you will receive a quality response within the prescribed time frames, so that you can have the tools you need to do your job. That is definitely a tremendous challenge, but I am sure that the team has already implemented things to prepare us for it. As I have not yet been appointed, I will have to get information about this.
You also asked a question about official languages. As you already know, I come from the Senate administration and I work in both official languages daily. That has been an essential part of my entire professional career. I have a deep respect for the use of both languages in all aspects of the library's work. Of course, that will not change. Once I am appointed, that is something I will continue to do.
View Angelo Iacono Profile
Lib. (QC)
How much time do I have left?
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