Parliamentary Budget Office: No, Prime Minister, you didn't create an "independent position". -

Parliamentary Budget Office: No, Prime Minister, you didn’t create an “independent position”.


From yesterday’s Question Period:

Mr. Thomas Mulcair (Outremont, NDP):

Mr. Speaker, during the election campaign, the Prime Minister stated loud and clear that the parliamentary budget officer is an independent position. However, there are some people here, in the highest circles, who want to silence him. If the Prime Minister is sincere, is he ready to defend this institution by proposing legislative amendments to guarantee his independence, without interference?

Right Hon. Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, CPC):

Mr. Speaker, we created an independent position. But this position was approved by Parliament, which is responsible for managing it.

Oh, Prime Minister. Really, this question was a gimme – all you had to do was say yes.

Instead, you fall back on an increasingly tired – and demonstrably false – claim to have already made the PBO an “independent position”.

Which may well have been what you thought you were doing – it was part of your election platform, after all. But for whatever reason — blame it on ministerial inexperience, political overzealousness, an arbitrary and artificially tight deadline for passing the Federal Accountability Act — that’s just not what happened.

Luckily,  there is a very simple solution: If you actually do want a fully independent Parliamentary Budget Officer – and there’s no reason to think that you don’t – you can amend the law to either recreate the position as an Officer of Parliament, or give the current PBO the (admittedly unprecedented, as far as I know) power to report to Parliament directly, and not through the Library.

With all-party support – which any such amendment would almost certainly receive – you could get it through the House in a day.

Instead, however, your response suggests that either you still haven’t accepted the fact that you got it wrong the first time around, and that your beloved FAA is not, in fact, flawless — or, alternately, that for whatever reason, you’re in no particular hurry to fix the problem.


Parliamentary Budget Office: No, Prime Minister, you didn’t create an “independent position”.

  1. We get the government we deserve unfortunately. Complete disregard for honesty and reasonably conduct got Harper where he is today, why should he bother doing the right thing now?

  2. What? Harper not flawless? Wash your BlackBerry, right this minute!

    On another subject, shouldn’t someone start a LeBlancQuitWatch or RaeQuitWatch thread anytime soon. I’d bet anybody a box of virtual donuts that at least one, or perhaps both, of them will be gone by Christmas.

  3. Anon – I’ll leave the Liberal leadership speculating to my far more qualified colleague over at Inkless, but can promise a full After The Fall GiornoWatch Spectacular sometime in the next few days.

  4. Isn’t Pierre Poilievre subsequent statement just after the PM’s even more telling?

    “Mr. Speaker, I would remind the hon. member of one simple fact. It was this government and this party that created the position of Parliamentary Budget Officer. We believe in accountability in the way in which the numbers are accounted for and made public to the Canadian taxpayer. It was our party that promised this in the 2005 and 2006 elections. It is a promise that we made and a promise that we kept. We will continue to go forward with this method of accountability that is brand new to Parliament.” emphasis added

    So, not only is the PBO supposedly an “independent position”, it’s also an important new method of government accountability, of keeping the Canadian public informed, and the explicit fulfillment of a government promise to the Canadian people.

    Is it worse that the PBO apparently isn’t really independent, or that the government keeps touting his independence even while it’s being openly challenged? Is this a case of the PM and his Parliamentary Secretary not understanding the law they passed (one might say, again) or of the PM and his Secretary thinking Canadians are too stupid to understand the law they passed, and to see that what they’re saying in Parliament doesn’t conform to reality?

    Of course, one would understand why the Tories aren’t particularly interested in reality. Reality has a well known liberal bias.

  5. Considering that the PBO is a position that has been pushed by the CCPA and its’ AFB process – for years – perhaps they should be consulted on the appropriate format.

    That’s gonna happen.

  6. People, people, please. The problem here is that you’re comparing the PM’s words with his actions. Of course there’s going to be some differences. Recall fixed election dates vs this fall’s election, or deficit talk being declared absurd a few weeks ago vs now being declared sound policy. Or ‘we won’t reopen the abortion debate’ vs. the “kicking abortion’s ass” bill.

    I think it’s clear by now that our duty as Canadians is to pay attention to Mr. Harper’s words only. This will relieve any cognitive dissonance and over time you’ll understand what an honest man of integrity our PM really is.

  7. Thanks, Kady. Speaking of the GreatGiorno, it appears that that Carson guy is back at his lonely perch as “Senior Advisor”. In this era of government cutbacks, if you’re in a box and nobody else is there with you, start worrying.

  8. LKO: What’s even more ironic is that it was Poilievre who served as then-Treasury Board president John Baird’s eyes and ears on the legislative committee that studied the FAA; if he was paying any attention at all, and not just making smarmy speechlettes about the perfidies of the previous government, he would have been well aware of the concerns over putting the PBO under the Library.

  9. Is there going to be no end to the BS from you Libs.You stole and ransacked parliament for 10 years and you were proven guilty without a doubt by the Gomery enquiry.When are you going to shut your know nothing mouths and just let an honest man run the country.Your puke accusations are as limp as Dions and the rest of the Libs on the first day of parliament question period.No co-operation at all and to blame tje worlds economic woes on PM Harper is so low its disgusting.But,that what we get for allowing 75 libs to get elected by the fools who worship sleaze.

  10. I nominate Bert for Best All-Round Off-Topic Conbot Comment.