Kevin Page: 'The process should start over' -

Kevin Page: ‘The process should start over’

Government staffer reportedly on PBO selection committee


Colin Horgan reports that the chief of staff to Government House leader Peter Van Loan is on the selection committee tasked with providing a short list of candidates to be the next parliamentary budget officer.

The membership of the committee has been secret from the start and Thomas Mulcair raised concerns about that secrecy earlier this year. In March, the Globe reported that a member of the Privy Council Office was on the committee, something that Kevin Page expressed concern about.

Via email, I asked Mr. Page if he had any response to Horgan’s report. He sent along the following.

In my view, it is wrong to have a political staffer on the the selection committee for the Parliamentary Budget Officer.

It politicized the selection process. It calls into question the judgement of the current Parliamentary Librarian (also acting budget officer).

In my view the process should start over. The names of the selection committee should be publicly available (like the process to select the new Governor of the Bank of Canada). The committee should include past deputy ministers of Finance or secretaries of the Treasury or Clerks of the Privy Council. It could also include past Chairs of the House Finance Committee, House Public Accounts Committee or the House Operations and Estimates Committee.

The process should start over. There has been political interference at the first stage.

Update 7:09pm. A comment from Mr. Mulcair.

“This is a transparent fraud and it puts the lie to any pretence that there is a credible, independent process. This is exactly why I brought forward a bill to strengthen the PBO and reinforce its independence.”

Update 10:56pm. From the testimony of William Young, parliamentary librarian at the time, to the House finance committee in February 2008, here is the composition of the selection committee when Mr. Page was chosen.

On November 30, 2007, I convened a blue ribbon selection panel committee, which was composed of Maria Barrados, the president of the Public Service Commission; Don Drummond, the senior vice-president and chief economist of the TD Bank; William G. Knight, former commissioner, Financial Consumer Agency of Canada and a nominee of the Canadian Association of Former Parliamentarians; and Allan Darling, with me here today, who is my special adviser on the PBO project.


Kevin Page: ‘The process should start over’

  1. This proves how little Page (and Macleans?) understands how government is structured. I don’t know if Peter Van Loan’s Chief of Staff is on said committee (or even who he/she may be) but the Chief of Staff of the Government House Leader is the second most powerful Chief in Cabinet and so it makes total sense that a person of that seniority would represent the government on the selection committee.

    Page wants to choose his successor, a buddy no doubt. Canada doesn’t need another self-important hack in this role. We saw what happens when it’s politicized. We need someone of the quality of an Auditor-General, beyond reproach. Page was a bad hire, pure and simple. He can’t escape that, even as he comments on the choice of a successor.

    • Hiring someone of the quality of an Auditor General would be meaningless when the PBO’s office has no authority to enforce the collection of pertinent data.

      Page wants to choose his successor, a buddy no doubt.

      I can’t help but think you are either misguided or willfully ignorant.

      • Sensible.

      • It’s called being a partisan Conservative, no thought given to facts or the truth, just partisan barbs at everyone and everything that doesn’t favour their pathetic little tribe.

        • While partisan Liberals and Dippers only spew fairy dust, rainbows, and Unicorns.

          • I dislike partisans of all stripes, in my experience it’s the partisans who support the government who are the very worst.

    • I love how Conservative partisans bash Kevin Page by claiming he is partisan all the while defending the current partisan selection process for the next PBO.

      Can you say “hypocrite?”

  2. The Harper Government consistently has trouble with facts, figures, numbers and letters. Clearly all they would like to see is someone that they have complete control over and will provide them with the ‘yes sir’ behavior that the Harper Seals in the House of Commons have grown accustomed to. Page was difficult for them because all of his work was extremely well vetted and inevitably shown to be correct. More problematic was his drive to behave in a non-partisan manner and collect data for the entire house, not just select / cherry pick data for a single ideology in the house.

  3. Page doesnt like the Parliamentary Librarian.

  4. Of course the process si political — having seen the RepubliCons operate who could believe anything else

  5. The more Page talks after he’s left office the more he looks like a grandstander, as he was accused of during his time in office. I can not recall any other Federal bureaucrat so willing to share his criticisms of the government of the day after leaving his post. One comes to the conclusion that there is an element of “look at me” buried in his quick availability to media. Even in retirement, most senior bureaucrats follow the rule that their private thoughts should be just that, kept private.

    • I disagree. Nobody goes through as much personal sacrifice as he did to fight for proper accountability knowing his professional days are numbered.

      I think he’s been pretty restrained and respectable in his pursuit of non-partisan justice. With the insanity that has been the Harper regime, I’m not so certain many people could have exercised the same level of restraint during and after.

      It’s also quite possible that he was simply stepping extra carefully and not saying what he truly wanted to say during his job because he didn’t want to accidentally give unnecessary ammo to his opposition.