The Parliamentary Budget Office and the persistence of memory

by Paul Wells

This blog post on the Conservatives’ original goals for the post of Parliamentary Budget Officer would be perfectly unsurprising if its author weren’t Keith Beardsley, who was Deputy Chief of Staff to Prime Minister Stephen Harper after the 2006 election.

“It is quite clear that in opposition, the Conservatives envisioned a completely independent office along the lines of the Congressional Budget Office in the United States. They even had concerns that the government of the day might not want to cooperate with the Parliamentary Budget Officer and sought reassurance that this would not be the case when the Finance Committee looked at this issue.”

In the conflict between the Harper government and Kevin Page, it has always been obvious which side Stephen Harper would have taken as president of the National Citizens’ Coalition. Fortunately after Page leaves the post next spring it will be easy for the government to find somebody more willing to seek, without being goaded, the narrowest and least troublesome possible interpretation of his mandate. Perhaps Mary Dawson or Bob Marleau will be available.

 




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The Parliamentary Budget Office and the persistence of memory

  1. One of my politics profs in university 20 years ago had a bee in his bonnet about lack of statistics fed and prov governments release to public. Prof admired the american system where all stats and info are considered public unless there is good reason to keep it secret while in Canada all government info is considered private and there is very little accountability.

    American debates are often centred around statistics while Canadian debates are all about feverish imaginations. Governments are doing a lot of data mining, as just one example, so they know all about Canadians and our habits but they pretend ignorance.

    People who are attracted to politics don’t want to be held accountable and they don’t want Canadians to know what it actually going on with government finances and programs. Fed and Prov governments have been doing all they can to obfuscate for decades. A PM or Premier will have a coterie of about 10 or 15 people who actually know what is going on within government and everyone else is kept in the dark.

    • I actually up-thumbed your comment because, for once, I’m in (almost) complete agreement with your observation. I especially like the fact that it included no marginally relevant quotes or rants about the liberal tendencies of msm. ;)

  2. Bruce Carson. He’d be completely denied any access – solves the problem.

    • Ah, he’ll always have access to Something Something in Calgary.
      Couldn’t deny the charmin’ devil that ..

  3. Hmmmm…..didn’t the first ‘red flag’ occur when the opposition parties demand the PBO release the report on the cost of the war in Afganistan during the 2008 election when parliament wasn’t sitting??? Sheila Fraser said she would never have done that.

    • The fact that the opposition would try to take partisan advantage of the PBO in no way diminishes its value in providing Canadians with information to which they are completely entitled. It wouldn’t be hard to build in safeguards against partisan abuse.

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