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How will Kevin Page ever stay quiet?

Tease the day: After five years of fierce government criticism, what happens next?


 

Chris Wattie/Reuters

Jack Layton will always be remembered as the permanent politician, a man who was always on the clock—even as he penned a final letter to Canadians on his deathbed. Kevin Page may be remembered as the consummate public servant, a man who drove his career into a wall for the sake of budgetary transparency and accountability. Page, the former parliamentary budget officer, has spent the week since he left his post opening up—even more than usual—about his almost obsessive commitment to his job as government watchdog.

In this morning’s Toronto Star, Page pens an op-ed (not available online, yet) that contains a few talking points you’ve probably heard from him during past weeks: that Canada requires a legislative budget officer; that his office never received the mandate it deserved; that the government’s dragging its heels on finding a replacement; and that the interim PBO chief, the parliamentary librarian, is “nice,” but not a numbers person.

Page reveals something intensely personal: how the death of his 20-year-old son in 2006 changed his approach to public service. When the PBO position was eventually developed, such as it was, Page took the job knowing he was in for five years of pain—and no future in the public service, if he did the job properly. He decided that pain, which paled in comparison to losing a son, was worth the effort.

Five years on, Page’s legacy is made of solid gold. He’s a folk hero in Ottawa circles, save for some Conservative circles. And now we learn that his own son’s death is what drove him to pursue the defining years of his public life—even if they were his last as a public servant. Now, Page the private citizen resumes his life. How will he ever stay quiet?


What’s above the fold this morning?

The Globe and Mail leads with stolen Palestinian money that ended up in Canada. The National Post fronts North Korea’s political leaders meeting, as tensions remain high on the Korean peninsula. The Toronto Star goes above the fold with claims that Ontario is paying more than its fair share to the federal government. The Ottawa Citizen leads with a tentative agreement between the province and its high school teachers. iPolitics fronts Canadian mining controversy in Mexico. CBC.ca leads with North Korea’s legislative leadership meeting for a spring session. National Newswatch showcases a Hill Times story that digs into last week’s apparent Conservative caucus unrest.


Stories that will be (mostly) missed

1. Airplane safety. Small, private air carriers are subject to far fewer hands-on inspections than in past years, a result of shifting approaches at the Transportation Safety Board. 2. Guard training. Canada’s correctional services officers don’t receive uniform training about how to treat inmates with respect, according to an internal departmental survey.
3. Drug bust. The HMCS Toronto recovered 500 kilograms of heroin from a ship in the Indian Ocean, a bust worth over $500 million—one of the largest of its kind at sea. 4. Business visa. The feds are launching a new visa that will allow foreign entrepreneurs to enter Canada and work with Canadian firms to create jobs and drive innovation.


 
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How will Kevin Page ever stay quiet?

  1. It’s been pointed out the Liberals tried to undercut Shelia Fraser at the beginning of adscam, but that eventually subsided and pretty soon took their lumps. There’s no sign the Harper conservatives wll ever show such grace,and will continue to proudly attack the notion not that government should be accountable to its citizens, but that the citizens should have the information to even begin to make their government accountable.

    • But then again, Fraser only looked at numbers after the fact. Not much to dispute on that front.

      And honestly, I have never heard Ms.Fraser speak on personal terms when trying to justify her motivation for doing a job. Have you?

      • I don’t have at my recall everything Ms. Fraser may or may not have said publicly. But because I care more about governemnt accountability than the fortunes of the CPC, it matters very little to me. I suspect we differ on that count.

        • Well, at least we know that some things never change. You still find it necessary to find all kind of excuses in order not to deal with the content of my post.

          Thank you for telling us that much at least.

          • Content? Anything resembing “content” I gave far more than it was worth by the time I had typed six characters.

          • The six characters typed by you as not having a ‘recall’?

            Perhaps you simply don’t understand the difference between an auditor general and a public budget officer. But why then not type the six characters describing your shortcomings as follows:

            “dimwit”

            and be done with it?

  2. He’ll probaby be remembered as a guy who disagreed for the sake of disagreeing.

    • Well that and being right.

      Too bad the government didn’t see fit to screw him up by putting out some accurate numbers in the first place… that would have been a hoot.

      • That’s because there are no absolute accurate numbers to be found within a budget. In the first place because they don’t exist.

        • I’ve heard of blind faith but I’ve never before seen someone gouge out their own eyes as an act of faith. Those won’t grow back, you know.

          • It would be a travesty to gouge out the eyes of the seeing. As for the blind: what`s the difference……………

            So tell me, what numbers in a budget, any budget, are absolute in accuracy…………………………

        • It is nonsensical in this context to interpret “right” as being accurate to the last penny.

          Page and the government got into numerous disagreements, as noted by Lawyer. In every case, the government was very clearly wrong. That wrong makes Page right.

          • I never expected to be drawn into a new kind of logic. But here we go………..

            You seem to suggest that besides the government and Page, there could absolutely be no other possibility, and therefore Page must be right when the government is wrong……………………

            In my understanding of how the world works (and yes, the world does work well when keeping logic in mind) is that both the government numbers and Page`s numbers could be either right or wrong.

            Not only because budgetary numbers are a forecasted number, always, but also because numerous varients could be taken into account, as was made clear when the government and Page bickered over the Afghanistan numbers.

            Page`s numbers were different from the government numbers. But that does not mean that one of them had to be right or wrong; it could be that both were right or both were wrong, depending on what was taken into account.

            The same happened once again with the F35 proposed numbers. Yes, the numbers differed, but so did the calculations as what to include within the numbers presented. We all know that. We have all read about that. And yet the myth remains. Unless you feel like clearing things up, once again, but this time while staying objective.

          • Seems to me that Mr. Harper campaigned on a unit cost of $65 mil per aircraft and went to great lengths to convince us of that. I think perhaps that seeing as you knew that was not the actual number and I suspect he knew as well, then you are both fibbers and not to be trusted.
            Sad part the F35 will be greatly overmatched in speed, range, payload and survivability by nearly every adversary they will face in air to air engagements.

          • Well, you scored two points on that one. Or what was your point…………

            The cost for the F35 is dependent on a multitude of varients, as has been well documented.

            Perhaps Kevin Page will tell us a few years from now how his numbers didn`t quite add up.

            Or perhaps being outatune does mean not wanting to face that reality, then or now.

          • Perhaps all my hair will grow back too. Being outatune is an easy fix, being a nonstop Harper booster seems to be intractable, no matter what facts and figures leak out.

            Maybe you have watched one too many Economic Action Plan ads?

          • Maybe for once you (and others) could take the time to address the issues with Kevin Page I have raised repeatedly.

            All I get in return for my posts (reasonable posts) is some examples of excuses how not to address the contents of my posts.

          • You feel he has overstepped his boundaries and become partisan. I feel he was trying to do his job but not being given access to the figures required, hence the acrimony.
            You feel he has no business sharing a personal tragedy and its impact on his duties. I feel he was entirely within his rights to open up and explain what moves him forward. I have lost enough friends and family that I know exactly where he is coming from.
            You feel he is going political and drumming up a constituency from his moment in the limelight. I think your fears on that one are justified, he could run for any party, in any constituency and win it in a walk. I hope it’s Red Deer because I’ll vote for him.

          • I am certain that when asking for you to respond to the contents of my posts, that I did not ask you to twist and turn the contents of my posts into something not said by me.

            Please, re-read some of my earlier posts in this line-up and on this thread and then try again to respond to the contents of my posts in response to what I have actually said.

            That would be the meaning of a debate.

          • “The government could not win this fight for public support when the one
            side is doing politics but such fact is blatantly glossed over; Page`s
            uncalled-for political play, to be sure!”

            “I think that if Page had done the job as initiated by the current government”
            (From the article ‘ I was your parliamentary budget officer’ )

            “How pathetic to drag in the very unfortunate circumstance of losing a son in an attempt to bolster one’s own image.”

            Your words Francien, or am I hard of reading as well?

          • I will not deal with all three quotes at one time. It is too much for one post to handle. It confuses the contents of the argument.

            This is one of my quotes you pulled: “”I think that if Page had done the job as initiated by the current government”
            (From the article ‘ I was your parliamentary budget officer’ )

            Yes, and if you feel committed enough to this debate then you will find (when looking back) that the PBO job description as initiated by this government was as such that the PBO would report to the Parliamentary Library and that the MP’s from all parties, including MP’s sitting on the government side, could read the PBO report, ask questions to Page (or whomever they would like to check out the numbers) and with that comparable information be able to make an informed decision.
            Kevin Page has overstepped that boundery.

            It was Kevin Page who should have answered the MP’s concerns when asked. And it should be the MP’s bringing their opinions regarding the PBO and government numbers into the House for voting. Not Kevin Page adding comment directly to the Canadian voter. Such is not his place because he is not an elected member of the House and he should not offer opinions one way or another. Such is the role of the elected MP.

            Do you think the government initiative regarding setting up the PBO was to be different than being explained by me?

            Please, do tell me.

          • As I understand it, he was unable to supply PBO reports on some matters because he was not receiving all the pertinent figures and information from ministries he was reporting on. Rather than sit on his hands he used what tools he had to pry the information out which somewhat contradicts the PMO’s transparent and open governance. I am on Page’s side, show us the numbers, all the numbers.

          • Then I will advise you to have a closer look at what happened when Kevin Page released his numbers report on the Afghanistan war effort. The disagreement then was not over the fact that he could not get the numbers.

            Go ahead and read up on it. Then tell me again if it is true that the government withheld numbers from day one.

            Yes, later on the government became reluctant to hand over numbers so readily. But not at the beginning of Page’s mandate.

            And that is my point. Ifgoog over the history of Page’s conduct, you will understand what I am trying to say.

          • I will check it out when I get home.

          • Thank you. I appreciate it. Always good to be talking to people living in Red Deer (right?).

          • I assume that your concern was not so much about differing numbers, GC vs PBO as it was about the timing of the release. Starting with page two of the report, there are so many qualifiers as to why it might not be strictly accurate and “subject to change as detailed financial and non-financial data are made available to the PBO by the relevant departments” I would think the impact on the election would have been minor at best. It begs the question of why wouldn’t Mr. Harper avail himself of the figure from the PBO and compare it to what his cabinet ministers were giving him before he hit the campaign trail? The PBO was his creation, after all.
            And yes, Red Deer it is.

          • Please stop assuming what my concerns are about. My question to you was in regards to availability of numbers, not the timing of PBO reports (and, yes, I do have an opinion on that too).

            All numbers can never be completely available to the PBO if such office sets out conflicting parameters around a tabulation of budgetary numbers. What to include and what not to include in the numbers is the question for both the government and the PBO. In that they have differed all along. And who then is to say that the government is wrong and therefore Page must be right, only because Page has insisted that his opinion of inclusion must be the right opinion. Non sense.

            For instance, some of the numbers deal with costs which would have been incurred even if the war in Afghanistan had never happened. Is such cost then to be included into the Afghanistan war tabulations or not? Is the government correct to say that such numbers should not be included or is Page correct in thinking that the numbers should be included, regardless?

            I would say that the Minister in charge has a ministerial responsibility to the people, ultimately. And if Page thinks that it is his duty or responsibility to decide what is included into the Afghan war numbers and what is not, then I, as a voter and believer in a democratic system, have a problem with that.

            The finance minister and several other ministers involved, do have the ministerial responsibility, not Page.

            Therefore, the best thing to have done for Page, was to have released his reports to the Par Library for the MP’s of all parties to look over, to ask questions of Page and find out what the difference was between the government numbers and Page’s numbers and for the MP’s to tell the House (and the voters at large) what it was they preferred or agreed with in either the government numbers or the PBO numbers. Not that difficult an undertaking, it seems to me.

            Too bad it did not turn out that way.

          • Unless I missed something, it did turn out that way and the opposition did what opposition parties do, they used it to whack the Harper Govt. upside the head.

            I will stop assuming if you come right out, and in one sentence preferably, make clear what it is you feel he did wrong.

          • I will repeat myself one more time: Kevin Page, as PBO, should have acted under the premise of his given mandate, to provide comprehensive budgetary numbers to the best of his knowledge, so that MP’s from all parties, including MP’s serving on the government side, to inform them and to answer questions to them directly if such would arise, so that MP’s are then able to be informed when bills come to a vote. Kevin Page (when still in his mandate) addressed his comments directly to the public at large, rather than go through the mandated channels of interacting with MP’s only.

          • And that, Francien, is exactly why many of us don’t place a lot of trust in Stephen Harper. The great unwashed don’t have the right to govt business dealings until it has been cleansed and put through the spin cycle.
            Happy trails.

          • And that is why you are but yet another example of how not to address the issues I raised here in regards to Kevin Page and the duties of the PBO.

            You are not different from so many others here on the comment boards. I know it is easier to avoid the real issue and just parrot what so many of them do here:

            Harper bashing at its best: empty slogans spouted and avoidance of debate all around.

            Happy trails to you 2 :)

          • Vanna White is still alive, so you should avail yourself of this fortunate circumstance and purchase an “a” to replace the “e” in varients, and then discard the entire word in favour of “variables”, an immutably more suitable choice.

  3. I see a book in his future. Maybe a speaking tour He could get a few pointers from Justin. Although he’s said that he’s not running for political office, that he really doesn’t need the aggravation, people do have a way of changing their minds. Regardless of all that he managed to bring some integrity to the office even if it did cause him some personal grief in the process. It’s funny how things work out that way sometimes.

  4. Are you for real here? Kevin Page was talking about his son’s death and how it related to doing his job as PBO when giving an interview with Evan Solomon on CBC The House.

    How pathetic to drag in the very unfortunate circumstance of losing a son in an attempt to bolster one’s own image. And how pathetic for a journalist to pretend that Page never talked about it before being out of office. He talked about the death of his son long before he was out of office.

    Do I have the time? Yes, time to keep setting records straight.

    • Page talked about understanding “real pain” and not the pretend “pain” of politics. He understood one is fixable (political and public policy) and one is not – the death of his child. Having that deep understanding helps one and drives one’s desirable to fix that which is fixable.

      • That may be so. But in that case, all people have a history and are thereby motivated by one life experience or another.

        Who is to say that Page’s job was performed better or any more authentic than jobs performed by others coming out of different life experiences?

        Only the death of a child can give one a purer insight or drive to be more trust worthy? I don’t buy that for a minute.

        • You dont’ buy that for a minute.
          No kidding, that was not what he said.
          He was talking about knowing that taking on the position of PBO was a career ender for the Public Service. Your nonsense about purer insight is a strawman. Much easier to make something up than actually agrue what Page said.

          • Could you please read janfromthebruce’s post, the one I responded to, and let me know what I misunderstood about the contents of her post?

  5. Compared to how the author was falling over himself to heap praise on an Albertan who puffed himself up about how he was going to take on Obama on behalf of the tar sands (and turned yellow at crunch time, surprising no one except perhaps the writer), the language here borders on prejorative.

  6. How will Kevin Page ever stay quiet?

    He won’t, he’ll be the newest Liberal MP candidate under Shiny Pony Trudeau.

    • Wouldn’t be the worst thing to happen to Canadian politics.

      • No, but it does show that doing politics has been in the blood all along.

        • Not necessarily. But even if it does, so what?

  7. how can we miss him if he never goes away?

  8. Has Kevin Page even realizes that he is NOT the consummate public servant, that he and ONLY sealed the fate of PBO by politicizing his role?!

    Let’s talk about BAD strategy.

    • How did he politicize his role exactly?

    • Party above country forever and always, Harper supporters.

  9. Get off the cross francien somebody needs the wood.

    • Knock, knock……Who might that be………………….another no name………..

  10. KEVIN PAGE has become one of my hero’s. I first heard hime in an interview with Anna Marian Tremonte on CBC’s The current. Today, I made 20 colour photocopies of his opinion piece in the Toronto Star (April 1st, 2013) and sent them out in the mail with an accompanying cover letter asking my family and friends, who will receive these copies, to write to their MPs and let them know they want even more teeth in the Parliamentary Budget Officer’s position. I suggested that Kevin receive The Order Of Canada for his service to the Canadian people. Keep Kevin’s name in your memory because I don’t think (and sincerely hope) that we have not heard the last of him. Kevin, you could not have given a better legacy to your children or gift to your late son Tyler. I feel you have given we, the Canadian People a gift and an example. Don’t leave us…lead us! Kathryn Walker – Toronto

    • Ah, yes, Kevin Page`s goals are achievable I see. Thank you for sharing with us. And Kevin will thank you too as soon as he starts campaigning. Oops, he`s into his campaign already.

      Someone taking the world for a loop. Something new to learn every day!

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