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Telling truth to power, and to all of us, too

A neutral watchdog provides reliable data on an important issue. Better shut him down.


 

This week’s question won’t be hard to answer: do you prefer reliable information about how your tax dollars are spent? Yes, I thought so. Then you need to know what Kevin Page has been up to and how his good work is under threat.

Kevin Page is Canada’s first parliamentary budget officer. His office was created by the Harper government, in fulfillment of a 2006 campaign promise. Stephen Harper’s Conservatives promised, in their platform, to “create an independent Parliamentary Budget Authority to provide objective analysis directly to Parliament about the state of the nation’s finances and trends in the national economy.” It would “require government departments and agencies to provide accurate, timely information” to this new entity. The goal of all this? “Truth in budgeting.”

In due time, the Conservatives delivered. Bill C-2 created an Office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer. Page, a distinguished career civil servant, was given the job.

Then he set to work. You will already have heard about his first project. Page produced an independent estimate of the cost of Canada’s participation in the Afghanistan war. It was meticulous and rigorously transparent. The officials who did the work signed their name to it, which is unheard of in bureaucratic circles. The report landed with a hellacious thud seven days before the latest federal election, because it put the cost of the Afghanistan deployment at $18.1 billion, more than double the official figure.

There could hardly be a more inherently political act than to check the government’s sums on the cost of a war in the middle of a campaign. In fact, it was an opposition MP, Paul Dewar (NDP, Ottawa Centre), who asked Page to produce his report. But it’s a testament to Page’s conscientious work that nobody questioned his impartiality. He chose to answer a neutral question instead of the more loaded question Dewar put to him. He neither hurried nor delayed his work to meet somebody’s political agenda. He released it to government, opposition, reporters and, through his website, to all Canadians at the same time—precisely so Dewar, who asked for the information, wouldn’t be able to spring the information on the government later, at some advantageous moment. And Page’s report included a model for estimating the cost of future wars, an invaluable gift to future parliamentarians.

It was stellar work. The Conference of Defence Associations, a pro-military industry group, called the report “excellent and well-researched.” So why, less than a month later, is somebody trying to shut Page down?

That’s not clear. This much is: on Oct. 28, the Speakers of the House of Commons and the Senate, Peter Milliken and Noel Kinsella, delivered a letter in which they complained that Page has been too public and independent.

Milliken and Kinsella wrote to the librarian of Parliament, William R. Young, to remind him that Page’s office was set up as a unit within the Library of Parliament. “Nowhere in the legislation is the Officer referred to as independent of either Parliament or the Library.” So by traipsing around telling you and me how much our wars, budgets and other programs cost, Page is “exceeding” his mandate, the two Speakers write. In setting up Page’s office, Parliament “certainly” didn’t intend “to put the Officer at the centre of parliamentary or public debates or to impinge on parliamentarians’ constitutional function of overseeing the executive.”

This is asinine. You will not find a parliamentarian who says he felt his constitutional function was impinged when Page came up with the first reliable costing of Canada’s most important foreign-policy adventure. That’s because reliable information can only help parliamentarians. And of course Parliament intended to put Page at the centre of public debates. That’s why Peter Van Loan, who was then the government House leader, applauded Page’s appointment and said he would “provide independent analysis to Canadians on the state of the nation’s finances.”

Three days after Milliken and Kinsella sent their letter to Young, the librarian of Parliament sent his own letter to Page, which so far has not been released publicly. I’m told it reins Page in fiercely, requiring him to release his reports to Young instead of directly to all parliamentarians and the public.

“We have a major, major crisis,” somebody who works in Page’s office told me. “It’s obvious they’re trying to get [Page] to quit.”

Which leads to the obvious question: who’s “they”? Who wants to muzzle an ambitious and conscientious new watchdog who strolled right into a political minefield for his first assignment and came through with flying colours?

Of course my first hunch was that it’s Harper. Accountability always looks good until you’re the government being held accountable. But that doesn’t explain why Peter Milliken, a Liberal MP, would collaborate.

Hugh Segal is a Conservative senator. He fired off a sharply worded letter to Milliken and Kinsella for trying to rein Page in. He warned them against presuming to speak for parliamentarians—especially two weeks after an election, when Milliken hasn’t won re-election to the Speaker’s chair yet. Nor should they let Young treat this new watchdog as just another staffer.

Segal chalks this, plausibly, up to “bureaucratic angst”: Page is making noise and getting attention. He’s making others look bad. No matter: he must not have his wings clipped when he has barely begun to fly. Page is already at work producing an independent economic and fiscal update, so we can check his numbers against the ones Finance Minister Jim Flaherty will produce. This is precisely what an independent budget officer should be doing. Let him do it.


 

Telling truth to power, and to all of us, too

  1. I think you have hit the nail firmly on the head when you state that this does not mpinge on Parliament. There is no way that ths does not enhance the abiity of Parliament to provide oversight. Witness the one example of an Opposition MP able to get detailed info to use to hold the executive to account.

    But why Milliken? Is he thinking long term for when the Liberals are back in power? Or maybe he just likes living out at Kingsmere and Harper has promised him no Conservatives will oppose his nomination as Speaker.

    Have any party (nota) leaders spoken on this?

  2. First, the work of the Parliamentary Budget Office does stand out as first class. I noticed that the Government’s response to the Afghan report was more “support the troops and don’t ask questions” holding lines, a strong indication that Page’s numbers are the best out there (and all without ANY information shared from within the bureaucracy). Too bad that the numbers weren’t on the table during the Afghan deployment debate…

    Second, if this is bureaucratic angst, then why are two longtime Parliamentarians willing to lend impetus to the effort to shut Page down?

    Is the Parliamentary Librarian that influential that he can tell them what to do (i.e. shut this guy down because he is making me look bad/I want to build my empire, and by the way, please ignore the Government’s policy intention and the vociferous support of other Parliamentarians for an independent, objective budget officer).

    Maybe this is part of Millikin’s strategy for re-election as speaker – vote for me = more secrecy and less informed debate ; ). I wonder where Mr. Tweed stands on the issue?

  3. I hate to rain on shocked-and-appalled parades, but the Speakers were asking the Parliamentary Librarian to follow the PBO’s enabling legislation, the Federal Accountability Act.

    Fix the legislation by giving the PBO real and true Officer of Parliament status, and all this crap flying around ends. It’s that easy.

  4. Paul: I think you’re on to something pretty fundamental. Private sector-style financial transparency is coming to Ottawa (and government in general) and it’s becoming a threat. If you Google “war costing” you get dozens of US reports on Afghanistan and Iraq coming from the US Gov’t, Congressional Budget Office, think tanks, academics etc… Washington has developed a culture of data that let’s people argue with facts rather than be simply be spoon fed from their government. Page does one report on Afghanistan and the town is in a tizzy. I think that things have become a little too cozy in Ottawa and that includes the relationship between the government and Parliament.

    If MPs aren’t properly equipped for debate, policy outcomes are diminished. The people protecting the status quo are kidding themselves if they don’t think that this stuff has an impact on Canadians. Confidence in government is declining and it’s worse when you ask about the management of taxpayer dollars. This kind of move will only increase cynicism.

    To Deep Sigh: you must be a bureaucrat. I looked up the Parliament of Canada Act (Google again). The first line of the PBO’s mandate is: “(a) provide independent analysis to the Senate and to the House of Commons about the state of the nation’s finances, the estimates of the government and trends in the national economy.” It doesn’t say subject to whim of other bureaucrats or through other bureaucrats or only if it’s not controversial for other bureaucrats. It actually lines up pretty well with the Stand up for Canada committment and Van Loan’s statement. You seem to have knowledge of the letter; so, why don’t you post it and let taxpayers decide.

  5. Here comes what I believe to be a non-partisan question:

    If it’s good work, great, and I agree it should be public. But there is lots about Parliament that doesn’t necessarily tick like that. I believe many offices must fall silent when Parliament is not in session (the Auditor General comes to mind). There are probably good (activity does not mess with democracy by throwing out grenades in an election campaign) and bad (party in power can conveniently mess with democracy by keeping the pin in one or more of those grenades in order to manage the timing of explosions to best political advantage) reasons for this. But them’s the rules.

    What are the actual RULES for the PBO? Can public releases happen ever? Can ANY release of work (good news, bad news, neutral news) occur during an election campaign? From anyone in the know, which of the following scenarios is playing out?

    (A) Timing of PBO’s release of Afghan report legal and appropriate, and both Speakers are full of it.

    (B) Timing of PBO’s release of Afghan report legal but inappropriate, because such a politically charged document released in the midst of a campaign calls into question the impartiality of the office. So both Speakers have a legitimate case against the competent but renegade PBO.

    (C) Timing of PBO’s release of Afghan report illegal and appropriate, because the parliamentary rules would not allow for the release, but at least the violation favoured an informed citizenry. But given the illegality, both Speakers have a legitimate case.

    (D) Timing of PBO’s release of Afghan report illegal and inappropriate, because the parliamentary rules would not allow for the release when Parliament is not in session and because such a politically charged document released in the midst of a campaign calls into question the impartiality of the office.

    Anyone?

  6. dudewheresmytaxdollar: If you look at the Federal Accountability Act, which is the enabling legislation of the Parliamentary Budget Officer,you will note the following:

    Parliamentary Budget Officer
    79.1 (1) There is hereby established the position of Parliamentary Budget Officer, the holder of which is an officer of the Library of Parliament.

    Being an officer of the Library of Parliament is very different from being an Officer of Parliament.

    Now, there is nothing in my comment above that can be taken as an attack on the PBO. Not one thing. In fact, I strongly believe that parliamentarians really need the expertise the PBO can provide. I simply believe that this whole mess could have been avoided if the drafters of the legislation had an ounce of foresight and established the PBO as an independent Officer of Parliament, much like the Auditor General or Information Commissioner.

    I have no knowledge of the letter. Kathryn May’s article gave a pretty good synopsis though.

    Lastly, you use the word “bureaucrat” like it’s a bad word. Tsk tsk.

  7. Gotta agree with the Deep Sigh-er — the Library isn’t the big bad in this scenario, although it’s possible the Librarian could have found a less sensational way to make known his displeasure with being cast as the whale to Page’s remora. The problem, as DS notes, is that the law as written simply does not give the Parliamentary Budget Office the independence that it requires to fulfill its mandate; the good news is that such a flaw is easily remedied through a legislative amendment. Given the reaction from opposition parties and government alike, I’ve no doubt that any such proposal would sail through the House and Senate with ease.

  8. Paul Wells, your article on Telling Truth ito Power in the Obama edition of Macleans blew me away. Great article, it kind of nails the core axis of evil, the symbiotic relationship between willing bureaucrats and corrupt politicians. With the downward spiral of the economy, an impending deficit and the financial crisis, tax payers ought to know how parliament spends $240 Billion of our taxes. The role of a budget chief is central to reduce the rancour in the house. Canadians and parliamentarians need rigorous analysis on expenditure of tax dollars. Lets take an example – Tories may want to privatise CBC, PWGSC, HRSDC etc – wouldn’t Canadians and parliamentarians be better served if Page were to examine the business proposals underlying such initiatives and report its findings to Canadians and parlamentarians – how else can parliamentary debate be enhanced?

    It is unfortunate, Canada lags behind the US, where there are multiple sources of data to challenge the government’s numbers. Congressional Budget Office even costs the party platforms! Citizens are increasingly demanding the same level of financial transparency they see in the private sector.

    The CPC came to power on the accountablity platform – it was all about holding the government to account. Accountability and accountability acts are meaningless and hollow unless the instruments that breath life in to the Accountability act such as Page’s office is allowed by the Government to perform in a transparent and independent manner. PM and CPC should has an opportunity to show leadership and integrity to Canadians by asserting the independence of the parliamentary budget office. The inaction by the PMO unfortunately reinforces the view in the minds of the public that there is little difference between the liberals and the Conservatives. It is a tragedy that the PMO officials are sleeping on the switch.

  9. Obama has brought change to the US. Page by telling truth is bringing change to Ottawa. We should ask Kevin Page to run for the hill. He may want to run as an independent. Too bad CPC lost an opportunity to play the ACCOUNTABILITY CARD. Citizens are not that naive.

  10. Why all the hullaboo? TTwo options: 1) Amend the Parl Act or 2) the PMO can issue a statement, that the PBO/Page is an independent officer of the parliament. This storn can be quickly contained. Inaction by the PMO (which is not uncommon till things get real bad) could unnecesarily lead to prolonged dysfucntion of these offices, with Canadians losing out as a result. Hope someone briefing the No.1.

  11. agree with oldcivilservant, but bureaucrats with vested interests will never give the right advice to PMO as Page’s office iby provding honest and indpendent financial advice could be , a likely embarassment for the government officials, and could prevent them from cutting deals. PBO can provide a safe zone, a neutral turf for the Parliamentarians and cabinet to process politically controversial files in a non-partisan way such as potential privatization of CBC or sale of Heritage Canada etc.

  12. madeyoulook,

    The Auditor General doesn’t table reports in the midst of an election (or when the entire Parliament has been fired so to speak) because she literally comes to the chamber and slams those documents on the speaker’s tables. When the entire house has been fired and nobody manning the chamber, there is no way the Auditor General can “table” his/her reports.

    On the other hand, the FAA says that PBO provides … to Parliamentarians and Canadians … don’t need a table to slam the reports on, a website release or news conference is probably enough, which is what Kevin Page did anyways.

  13. Nice article Paul. One thing I fail to understand is what t f is William Young going to do if Kevin Page only sends the reports to William Young? Make paper planes out of them? Re-edit the reports and make them more palatable for the client that asked for it (just like the Library does currently) – then whatever happened to the words “transparent”, “non-partisan”, and “independent”, etc?

    Also, on the same note, is it just me that the PBO report on the Afghanistan war contains an appendix called “The Fiscal Context”, which has a graph depicting the budgetary balance for the out years? That graph is constructed based on Department of Finance’ projections. Did anybody wonder how the conservatives started projecting negative budget balance numbers within days of getting re-elected?

    In my opinion, either Department of Finance is mis-reporting, or the Conservative party-elect is mis-reporting, or both.

    You see the same problem pointed out to in the same document on page number 13. The DND reported one set of numbers to Parliament, and another set of numbers to the PBO. So either DND lied to Parliament, or it lied to the PBO, or maybe both. Can’t anybody catch this?

    There are so many such great gems I found in the Afghanistan documents – like how the DND carried out this dog-and-pony show about Leopard-2 tanks – they wanted to get new ones, so they took the old Leopard-1 tanks to Afghanistan, promptly declared them to unfit due to temperature and dust issues (like they didn’t know that it was hot and dusty in Afghanistan in the five years prior to that), and asked the government to give them $1.3 billion for new tanks! And instead of getting the new tanks directly, we have apparently “loaned” 20 tanks from the Dutch and sent them to Afghanistan, out of which we have blown up one tank completely within one month of operation (November 2007).

    Another gem is why are Canadian troops consuming so much more money per soldier per year than the American counterparts – after all, aren’t we the “peace-loving” “law-abiding” country carrying out “humanitarian” work in Afghanistan? So where is this excess military spending coming from?

    So either the government lied to Canadians when it told them that it was a humanitarian mission and it is clearly not, or the DND lied to Parliament by overstating the costs of the Afghanistan mission to get more appropriations!

    Another great gem is on page 51 – in the year 2007-08, of the total $3.4 billion Parliament gave to VAC, they blew away almost $1 billion on operating expenditures … i.e. shampoo, toilet paper, staplers, coffee … isn’t that ridiculously enormously high! For every dollar given to them, the eat one dollar themselves, and this doesn’t even include their salaries!

    Man I could go on all night about this!

    Kevin and his team are superheros! We need more of them, and they need to roam the land to smoke the bastards out!

  14. I don’t want to paint the Library as the bad guy in this. It sounds to me like the PBO and the Librarian both got shortchanged in this debacle. Makes me wonder if this was set up to fail from the beginning. Imagine giving one position a strong mandate in legislation and another administrative control and them asking them to go sort it out.

    Any civil and prosperous society needs a good bureaucracy. Even a capitalist like me will acknowledge this. My reaction to bureaucracy was probably emotional and I am sorry to have been disparaging in my words but this probably plays as a bureaucratic bun fight outside Ottawa (and maybe for you guys inside as well). Transparency is normal stuff in the financial markets and people can get sued and go to jail for stifling it (i.e. Sarbanes Oxley). But my reaction wasn’t just about the bureaucracy around the hill but also the government’s bureaucrats who, as Paul notes, probably have little interest in fostering a more open environment for information and analysis. I also wonder how much goodwill there is in Ottawa for something like this to work. It is novel and needs the right conditions to work.

    A few technical points though just so that we are open to the idea that legislation doesn’t always tie everything in a nice bow for parliamentarians. It’s why we have courts and lawyers (bless them both). The parliamentary website notes that Officers and agents of Parliament, procedural officers etc… have not been legally defined and describe several related types of positions and with inconsistency in application (i can’t believe that i’m actually doing research for this). I am also not sure that we know all there is to know about the legal opinion on the FedAA. All we have is news snippets. The statements by the government house leader and PM that I saw on Global TV seem to support Page’s view (assume that it’s his view I guess) but it looks like they contradict the speakers. So, is this a drafting issue or more fundamental?

    About the timing of the release of the Afghan report…I imagine that Page was in a no-win situation. I recall that he actually refused to release it and then took heat for it in the media. I assume he also took political heat that we never saw and some hate mail. Then the opposition leaders demanded that he release it with the PM consenting. Again, he was never going to win. He had no capital in the bank with anyone and was sitting on a report requested by an MP before the election was called. Since this was playing out in public, I wonder if the speakers told him anything at the time. For what it’s worth, Page played it in such a dry way that the media lost interest after a day. Cost accounting has a tendency to do that ;-)

    To Patricia Bloodworth’s point…either the PM meant this to be effective and his bureaucrats (there’s that word again) just missed a few drafting and organizational issues or he never really meant it to work and he will let the speakers drive it into the ground (rightly or wrongly). I agree with Kady that he could very easily signal a repair and get the opposition to quickly support it. But the question is whether he wants to get it right. The silence is deafening.

  15. Joanne said – “agree with oldcivilservant, but bureaucrats with vested interests will never give the right advice to PMO as Page’s office iby provding honest and indpendent financial advice could be , a likely embarassment for the government officials, and could prevent them from cutting deals. PBO can provide a safe zone, a neutral turf for the Parliamentarians and cabinet to process politically controversial files in a non-partisan way such as potential privatization of CBC or sale of Heritage Canada etc.”

    So it’s the bureaucrats who are providing inaccurate advice to PMO, not PMO providing inaccurate information publicly? A bureaucrat lying to PMO gets filed away to Siberia somewhere for the rest of their careers. PMO using interesting parameters on what they choose to tell the public is just business as usual and, sadly, has become so normal that the fudge factor has already been incorporated in the public’s BS filter.

  16. The inaction by the PMO to straighten things out could have negative conequences. Why wouldn’t the PMO’s Chief of Staff advice the PM to repair the damage asap. The PM did reiterate Page’s independence in Global TV a while ago. Didn’t he or he did but didn’t mean it. Ad Dion would say – you can’t believe that man?

    Jack and Dion, your boys have a big scandal to deep fry CPC in the question period…OMG

  17. Paul: you are on to some thing big…….Woods has a point. Did the PM say it, said and didn’t mean it..so what is it? Canadians need to know.

  18. Can the speakers over rule the PM? Hmm who is in charge?

  19. So much for the Tory accountability act…what a sham. Canadians always get cheated in the end.

  20. Any office that exposes wastage of money and tells truth to Canadians will be put to death – Federal Accountability Act of the Conservative Party”

    Where are the liberals and NDP on this? Who cares for Canadian taxpayers?

  21. Paul, this is a frickin big scandal!!! Your article just nailed the axis of evil. Question period should be fun. Page should speak out. Rex Murphy and cross country check…hmm

  22. Kevin Page on cross country check up…omg, could be an interesting evening.

  23. Great Work Mr Page . We who are about to be taxed salute you! Now, can we have a similarly thorough audit of federal healthcare disbursements please?

  24. How about Page’s office doing a paper on the equalization. Understand Department of Finance’s equalization model is archaic and outdates. Equalization accounts for a third of the budget. Kevin Page, your office should provide a counterpoint to Canadians on this issue.

  25. I am awaiting Page’s report on why parliament should continue to approve monies for the IT boondoggles,aka, CPC gun registry, only bigger and hairier

  26. Honest parliamentarians will rally behind Page. How big of an office are we talking about?

  27. Tories have an opportunity here to fix the accountability scam and drive home a point that transparency is important whether one is in opposition or the govt. But it would take courage, vision and integrity, all of which are in short supply.

  28. Wow, this is fantastic! I think Kevin Page should seriously look into all the wheeling-dealing by Michael Fortier the former public works minister. The guy is a crook of the highest order, and is filling his investment banker colleagues’ and friends’ pockets with greenbacks all the time. The best example is the federal real estate sale-leaseback deal and the AT Kearny contract.

    Michael Fortier was here in September in Montreal promising to give $2.5 billion to his buddy Patrice Pelletier at the Port of Montreal to add 22,000 new jobs, refurbishing existing terminals and increasing efficiency, and construct new terminals in east-end Montreal. The problem with this is that to handle even one more boat in any given year, the St-Laurent river in the Port of Montreal will have to be converted into another Atlantic Ocean! There is absolutely no way the river can be dredged, or the locks along the southern shore of the river widened. Michael Fortier is wanking billions of dollars away to his buddies as is his usual forte.

    He did the same thing with the federal real-estate sale-leaseback deal, when he couldn’t prove even once exactly how much operational risk and “government inefficiency” he had indeed improved by selling off 3 million square feet of prime government land for half the price!

    That guy needs to be court marshaled, and only Kevin Page and his team has the skills to go after him. I am sure the ostracization campaign launched against Kevin certainly has the backing of Public Works.

  29. Paul, you skewed the info. The budget report cited the cost of the war to date (Oct 2008) as between $7.66 and $10.47 billion while the Conservative’s figure cited during the election was $8 billion. Pretty close I dare say. The budget report then goes on to state that the projected cost out to 2011, depending on the troop levels, was $18 billion. There was no dispute in the figures. To your second point about the interference being political in nature. The Parliamentary Budget officer, as an officer of parliament, comes under the Speakers of both houses administratively, especially regarding the tabling of reports. Finally when you consider that Peter Milliken is a Liberal MP and Noel Kinsella is a Red Tory appointed by Brian Mulroney there is little likelihood of their reacting to a gag order issued by the PMO. “You see but you do not observe”. (Arthur Conan Doyle)

  30. The issue is not who is wrong or right. The idea is not to blame. Sure the legislation was screwed for a reason.

    If the CPC really was serious about the federal accounability act (intead of simply checking a box to hoodwink Canadians) and the role of the INDEPENDENT PARLIAMENTARY BUDGET AUTHORITY (AS STATED IN STAND UP FOR CANADA), the PMO can quickly rectify this situation. After all accountability was at the top of their agenda. In fact, to his credit, the PM did mention at the Global TV interview that the PBO is independent…can the speaker over rule the PM and the intent of the legislation as affirmed by the PM, i.e, Page is an independent officer?

    The hall mark of good leadership and good management lies in fixing the problem before it becomes a crisis and erodes public confidence. The Conservative government should be congratulated for at least creating a Parliamentary Budget Officer to help the parliamentarians hold the govt to account. I don’t understand why they lodged the PBO in the library. Who was advising?

    A CAMEL IS A HORSE DESIGNED BY THE BUREAUCRATS!

  31. Paul, you are on to something big! Accountability is a buzz word, nobody wants it, otherwise the govt would have fixed it. CPC just talks about it.

  32. It’s a shame if they shut down Kevin Page and his team. We need at least a few good men with integrity.

  33. As a tax payer, I have an interest in seeing Page functions in an independent and transparent way. I am really disppointed at the apathy and inaction by parliamentarians and the Government in remedying this jam. Tax payers monies are being wasted. Unbelievable, is there a shred of honesty n accountability left?

  34. So who is going to fix this? Who do we hold accountable for this screwed up legislation. I guess, the folks who penned the legislation and advised the speakers must be in line for promotion..Yikes accountability! Stinks!

    Will parliamentarians, PMO, someone take accountability for this mess and set things straight?

  35. It’s an uphill battle guys. I would’ve thought that in a democracy, the loser shouts the most, unless there’s vested interests.

    Given that the NDP and the Bloc Quebecois are the official losers all the time, I wonder whatever happened to their accountability promises. The NDP’s election platform infact promises to make sure that the Parliamentary Budget Officer can operate completely independently in their manifesto! (from http://xfer.ndp.ca/campaign2008/Platform_2008_EN.pdf ) …

    Now I really wonder where Jack Layton is … and same for Gilles Duceppe … and for what is worth, I guess we can consider Stephane Dion to be accelerating his flight into the dustbins of history … and taking his party (or whatever is left of it) along with him …

  36. Rock Gordon, Nov 7: On the other hand, the FAA says that PBO provides … to Parliamentarians and Canadians …

    Rock, I just went through the Royally Assented Bill C-2, and did a “Find” on parliamentary budget officer. The FAA says no such thing, as far as I can find. The executive summary states:

    Amendments to the Parliament of Canada Act establish within the Library of Parliament a position to be known as the Parliamentary Budget Officer, whose mandate is to provide objective analysis to the Senate and House of Commons about the estimates of the government, the state of the nation’s finances and trends in the national economy, to undertake research into those things when requested to do so by certain Parliamentary committees, and to provide estimates of the costs of proposals contained in Bills introduced by members of Parliament other than in their capacity as ministers of the Crown. The amendments also provide the Parliamentary Budget Officer with a right of access to data that are necessary for the performance of his or her mandate.

    And the new Sections 78 and 79 of the Parliament of Canada Act (as created by C-2) establish the position, define his or her mandate, define the officer’s entitlement to information, restrict the officer’s disclosure of certain forms of information, and authorize the officer to employ certain persons to assist him or her in the discharge of his mandate.

    Sharing information with all Canadians? Particularly when Parliament is not in session? Where do you see that in the legislation? Can anyone quote the legislation saying that?

    If such was the intent, then the legislation seems to have failed to achieve that. But to me the Speakers have a legitimate point as to the PBO overstepping any legally permitted boundary here.

  37. Canadians need to know how Ottawa spends money. Is this too much to ask? Cudos to NDP for including budget officer in their platform. Way to go Jack..you make Canadians proud. Glad I voted for NDP

    NDP forever.

  38. Bloc n partie quebecoise are interesting. Normally they would yell at the federal govt just about for anything. Would be nice to see Duceppe taking on the CPC on a laudable initiative like accountability. Oh Duceppe where are you when Canadians need you?

    I hope Page runs for the hill as an NDP candidate.

  39. Hats off to NDP. There is still a shred of accountability left so long as Jack is around. Jack, I hope you will raise the issue of Page in question period.

  40. Nice blog Paul…you have uncovered an accounatability scam!

  41. If anyone wants to see the sh** really hit the fan, turn the other way – where does all this money come from in the first place? This is something they REALLY don’t want people thinking about – BANKETEERING http://www.rudemacedon.ca/banketeering.html . If a few more people understood this, we might have a chance of a stable economy,

  42. The way politicians treat honest bureaucrats is a reflection of the larger society. The same government that went after the liberal gun registry and sponsorship, is now beleagured by the billion dollar IT scandal, clipping the wings of the very man they selected to uphold accountability and truth in budgeting. Wonder how these people sleep at night and then show their faces to canadians in the morning.

  43. Legislation is murky…we all know why?
    Little point in looking back.
    Lets see which party has the integrity to remedy the situation…there in lies leadership.

  44. Financial crisis in wall street and bay street
    Economic recession
    Country needs a revolution, moral degradation is rampant.
    Cannot believe anyone
    As the society, so the politicians

    There is hope as long as NDP and Jack is there. My dad tells me honesty is the best policy.

    Hang in there Kevin Page. Jesus Christ was crucified for being honest. Mohammed was driven out of Mecca for being honest. Lord Rama and Krishna had to fight battles to uphold honesty. However, truth and integrity truimphs in the end. I believe in Canadians, they can tell an honest man. I am positive the media and Canadians will respond in full support of your office.

  45. Honesty and integrity is not for sale. Honest bureaucrats are always persecuted by the system. Hopefully the media and Canadians will rise to defend honest folks.

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