Mr. Speaker, today we honour the seventh Parliamentary Librarian.
William Young, Bill to most of us, is the incarnation of quiet wisdom.
As co-chair of the Standing Joint Committee on the Library of Parliament, I had the pleasure of working closely with Bill, as we tried to come up with innovative ways to promote the programs and services the library offers to parliamentarians.
It was as a plain member of Parliament that I met him 2,146 days ago to offer my support and to thank him for the above-the-call professionalism of his dedicated staff.
Many members know that I spend a considerable amount of time in the library. I have a deep appreciation for the vital and trusted work that the library staff provides to support my insatiable curiosity as a legislator and as a servant. I most certainly appreciate that this library does not charge fines for late books.
For some reason that I do not quite understand, particularly since we are all such nice people, I have been told that reporting to a parliamentary committee is not always a bowl of cherries. While I may doubt that statement, I will acknowledge that the last couple of years have brought their challenges as we have dealt with successive minority parliaments and the reality of a global recession, and the fiscal restraint measures that have gone along with it.
Bill always managed to overcome these challenges with ease, grace and humour. This definitely made our committee work much more enjoyable. I am sure that his management team, and all Library of Parliament employees for that matter, really appreciate his style.
Style notwithstanding, he and his team have also delivered on their promises. Each year our committee has seen measurable progress on the broad-based plan of renewal that Bill initiated when he took over the role of Parliamentary Librarian six years ago. These are things that, by and large, may go unnoticed by other parliamentarians, such as the extensive managerial reforms that have taken place to ensure modern controllership and innovation in services.
Pass(e)port is a selection of articles about Canada or current issues of interest to parliamentarians. The articles are gathered from online international news sources every week. It was developed in committee by my friend and colleague, the hon. member for Ottawa—Vanier, in order to better connect parliamentarians to the rest of the world.
Given that Bill devoted most of his career to Parliament, I do not think it would be an exaggeration to say that much of the Library of Parliament's effectiveness today can be attributed to Bill.
The former prime minister, the Right Hon. Paul Martin, was inspired when he appointed Bill as Parliamentary Librarian. The current Prime Minister displayed his legendary wisdom when he extended that appointment.
Last summer I undertook to read Bill's doctoral thesis, but it took me a week to read the title, “Making the Truth Graphic: The Canadian Government's Home-Front Information Structure and Programs During World War II”. I will finish reading the thesis in time for the book report.
In conclusion, I would like to say a few words to Bill's prospective successors and give them a bit of perspective about working at the Library of Parliament.
Since Confederation, we have had 43 leaders of the opposition, 35 speakers, 22 prime ministers, 18 members for the district that I represent, and 12 clerks of the House of Commons. Against all this, the Library of Parliament is a model of stability. We have had only seven Parliamentary Librarians. They get to keep their job. On average, they have each served two decades.
As many of you know, I count every day that I am here. This is to ensure that every day counts. Psalm 90:12 says, “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom”.
And as we count our service here in days, parliamentary librarians count theirs in decades. William Shakespeare was right when he wrote, “The better part of valour is discretion”. William Young is blessed to live by those wise words.
In closing, on behalf of the Standing Joint Committee on the Library of Parliament and on behalf of every member of this House, I would like to commend Bill on all of his excellent work and extend our best wishes for his retirement.
On behalf of the Standing Joint Committee of the Library of Parliament, and on behalf of every member of this House, I want to close with a heartfelt bravo and our best wishes to Bill and to his family on his retirement.
Like that of his predecessor and my esteemed friend, Erik Spicer, may Bill's retirement be long, fruitful and filled with serenity and delight.