Free of his government masters, former parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page is taking his show on the road. The long-time policy wonk is in the midst of an international tour where, at the invitation of his peers, he’s spreading the good word about what the PBO accomplished with him at the helm.
Page visited Santo Domingo earlier this month for meetings with Latin American budget directors. “I was asked to share lessons learned on budget practices related to measuring performance,” he told Maclean’s. Later this month, Page will be in South Africa to “share experiences and lessons learned” as that country gears up to open its own parliamentary budget office.
The irony of exporting all of that institutional knowledge, instead of using it at home, isn’t lost on Page. “While international organizations are using Canada’s PBO to promote good practices abroad, our Canadian government appears determined to undermine the office it created,” he said.
One of Page’s former colleagues, assistant parliamentary budget officer Sahir Khan, said the PBO has “benefited greatly” from partnerships with budget offices around the world—though its ability to return the favour is often limited. “The focus of the PBO has been on its own legislative mandate and service to parliamentarians and Canadians,” he said. “International outreach work has tended to be undertaken ‘off the sides of our desks.’”
Page’s retirement should help fill that gap. “He will likely be able to direct more of his efforts on institution building,” said Khan. “Perhaps as interesting as sharing practices and experiences with the most prosperous nations will be [Page’s] potential to help developing nations build new parliamentary institutions.”
After five years of fighting a government bent on stonewalling his office, it seems Page has finally found governments willing to listen.