Thomas Mulcair’s proposal to strengthen the Parliamentary Budget Officer

The NDP leader tables his private member’s bill

by Aaron Wherry

Here is the Private Member’s Bill that Thomas Mulcair has now tabled to amend the Parliamentary Budget Officer’s mandate. Among other things, the bill amends and adds to the section pertaining to the PBO’s access to information.

79.3 (1) Except as provided by any other Act of Parliament that expressly refers to this subsection, the Parliamentary Budget Officer is entitled, by request made to the deputy head of a department within the meaning of any of paragraphs (a), (a.1) and (d) of the definition “department” in section 2 of the Financial Administration Act, or to his or her equivalent, or to any other person designated by that deputy head or his or her equivalent for the purpose of this section, to free and timely access to any data, information, records, explanations and assistance that the Parliamentary Budget Officer considers necessary to fulfil his or her responsibilities under section 79.2.

(1.1) Where the deputy head of a department or his or her equivalent or designate refuses to provide the data, information, records, explanations or assistance requested under subsection (1), the Federal Court shall, if it determines that there is no ground to refuse to provide the data, information, records, explanations or assistance, order the deputy head of the department or his or her equivalent or designate to provide the data, information, records, explanations or assistance, subject to such conditions as the Court deems appropriate.




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Thomas Mulcair’s proposal to strengthen the Parliamentary Budget Officer

  1. PBO needs reforms for sure, but giving him more power without better defining the roll of his office would be a huge mistake.

    • It’s about giving the Budget Officer more independence from government influence and more access to public information to ensure greater government accountability. It has nothing to do with power. If a government has nothing to hide it has nothing to worry about.

  2. This kind of adversarial relationship between the government and the opposition is exactly why Commons committees are best suited to the task of “second sober thought.” It’s in the opposition’s interest to put legislation to the test of fire and make the government look bad.

    Here we have a great idea that will make government more accountable to taxpayers. Did the NDP propose this out of genuine concern or spite? It doesn’t matter. It only matters that the job gets done.

    If the Liberals are successful in legislating Preferential Voting in 2015 (which will stop power from being accumulated at the top) the opposition will play a stronger role in more open and accountable government.

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