In 2016, mayhem was unleashed when the Ontario Library Association (OLA) departed from the Canadian Federation of Library Associations (CFLA). The assumption was that the OLA would depart from the CFLA in an orderly and a swift fashion. That assumption was wrong.
Stephen Harper has done it again, putting Canada right up there alongside the world’s super powers. Back in 2007 he announced that Canada was going to become an energy superpower; this time it is Canada’s libraries that are in the spotlight.
At a pre-election news conference on his government’s priorities Harper said that “One of the primary targets is our booming library sector.”
‘The world recognizes Canada’s emergence as a global library powerhouse. This government is going to turn Canada into a library superpower. It’s no exaggeration.”
In an emotional speech Harper revealed that one of his earliest ambitions had been to become a librarian like his heroes Chairman Mao and Casanova. We all know Harper as the grey haired maestro of political manoeuvring and spin, but few knew of this secret ambition to be a librarian.
Harper talked about the existential threats facing Canada such as the oil price crash, the fall in the value of the loonie, and the growth of ISIS. He also referenced the situation in Ukraine and the challenge of a rejuvenated Liberal Party led by his nemesis Justin Trudeau. When asked about his government’s priorities in the face of these many challenges he was unequivocal in his response:
“major investment in Canada’s library infrastructure. Canada needs more libraries, more staff, higher salaries, more books.”
When asked if this meant “more gravy” (a reference to Rob Ford’s call to “Stop the Gravy Train”) Harper was visibly emotional when he replied “Yes, libraries need more gravy.”
So where is this gravy coming from? Harper has scrapped plans for income tax splitting and diverted this funding to develop the country’s library service. “Why should a few rich people benefit from lower taxes when everyone can benefit from using their local library?” was how Harper put it.
When this news hit the Toronto Stock Exchange the value of the loonie rose by 15 cents against the US dollar.
The price of oil also went up when Harper revealed that he was closing down the Alberta oil sands and switching government investment into clean energy supplies.
April Foolish is the CEO at the Erehwon Public Library.
For more articles from the Special Issue of Open Shelf see the Table of Contents.