Question Period: National Gallery of Canada

By: The Hon. Patricia Bovey

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Maman statue, Ottawa

Hon. Patricia Bovey: My question is for the Government Representative in the Senate.

The situation at the National Gallery needs to be resolved. I ask my question, Senator Gold, declaring that I do know all, or almost all, of the individuals on every aspect of this truly unfortunate situation. I ask my question seeking resolution and understanding.

Can you confirm that the search for a permanent director will start as soon as possible, and that candidates will be required to have a background and experience in art history or in contemporary expression, as well as a track record in directing art galleries?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for the question and for your ongoing commitment to the issue of arts and culture in this country.

I understand that the search for the permanent director is under way and is online now with an open posting. The successful candidate for the full-time role will be approved by the Governor-in-Council process as proposed by the Minister of Canadian Heritage, and I’m confident that it will be someone qualified and talented — someone who will help unite the gallery and the visual arts community around its most treasured national institution.

As well, I note that the minister is alive to the concerns raised. I understand that Minister Rodriguez recently wrote a letter to the chair of the board of directors expressing his deep concern and asking that action be taken swiftly once solutions have been put forward by the board of directors.

Senator Bovey: Thank you for that. I’m pleased to know that the search is really moving forward.

Can you assure the community across the country, Senator Gold, that the search community includes an art historian and/or a museologist, as has been the case for a number of appointments in previous directors, in order to ensure that the important discipline of this national flagship will be properly recognized throughout the process? This is critical for the gallery’s credibility at home and abroad.

Senator Gold: Thank you for the question.

Senator, I’m advised that the process will follow the process that was laid out online publicly and that has been operating successfully since the new open merit-based appointments process came into effect in 2015. It will include relevant representatives on the selection committee who will ensure there is a diversity of perspectives around the table. However, senator, as you know, those selection processes are confidential, and it would be inappropriate for the government to advise who will be part of them.

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