'We feel that we've given them that office' - Macleans.ca

‘We feel that we’ve given them that office’

Kevin Page talks to Steve Paikin


Kevin Page talks to Steve Paikin.

And the Agenda convenes a panel to discuss Parliament’s scrutiny of government spending.


‘We feel that we’ve given them that office’

  1. Wow, I have read some of the snarks about Page running for the Liberals. If he does go that route, watch out. He has some serious political skills, which I didn’t really note in earlier interviews.

    (Check out his comments on Flaherty, in which he passes the sincerity test with flying colours while telling what is almost certainly a big whopper.)

    • What? You have never realized before now hat Kevin Page is very skilled at doing politics? How else do you think the could have fooled so many for so long?

      • I thought his clever trick for “fooling” people was to use the correct numbers from the beginning and then cleverly wait for the PMO to backtrack towards those numbers.

        Really more of an integrity in accounting trick rather than a political one, no?

        • But the issue I have with Kevin Page when he performed his role as PBO is not about accuracy of numbers. The problem I had and still have with Kevin Page’s performance is that he could not just deliver the numbers. Had he, each and every time, delivered his numbers of estimates to the MP’s of all stripe serving in Parliament, he would have done his job as prescribed and as intended. The MP’s could take Page’s numbers, study them and comment on them however much and often and in what shape or form they would have liked. Such is the role of the MP’s, to add commentary to the numbers, to set the numbers into context. Because MP’s are elected and are therefore expected to be political in outlook, and as soon as commentary or context is given to numbers, the game has become political. Kevin Page should have known the difference between delivering just his numbers and the context/commentary upon them. He did not know the difference when in the job and he still does not understand the difference when looking back on his job. Mel Cappe understood the difference very well, when he explained about the Ministerial responsibility and the workings of our parliamentary system.

          • Part of the problem with your argument here is that Kevin Page never actually got access to the numbers. He took the government to court and was interviewed by the press so often precisely because the necessary documents his department needed to fulfill their mandate was never provided when requested.

          • Part of the problem is that you are lying: Kevin Page did get access to the numbers most of the time, not all of the time.

          • I’m not lying, Page did not get access to the documents he needed on the fighter plane procurement until after he took the Harper Government to court. We may be speaking to different documents, thus the confusion.

          • So you are pointing out one specific incident when he did not get the numbers he wanted. And there may have been other instances of not getting the numbers he wanted. But there have been times when he did get the numbers he wanted. That proves my point that Page did get access to the numbers most of the time, not all of the time.

          • To make intelligent budgeting decisions (or to advise on budgeting), one would need all the numbers and documents related to the subject, wouldn’t one? Why would the government refuse numbers and personally smear someone who is just trying to do their mandated job properly? Unless the government didn’t actually want that job done.

          • I don’t totally disagree that it would be good if the numbers were presented in a non-political fashion. However, I also think that the numbers should be public, otherwise how is the public to know which politician to believe. Finally, given that some of the numbers are nuanced and subject to specific qualifiers, then I do think it makes sense for the office holder to provide comment to the public through media.

            The fact is though that early on, the Conservatives made a decision to attack rather than deal with Page. They could have defused every conflict by simply admitting his number was correct. One thing Page never did was “spring” things on the government. They always had his reports before the public. Page is a terrific example of the Conservative government’s preference for a battle rather than a compromise.

          • Yes, the numbers should be public. Why not.

            But it is not necessary for the officer to do the explaining to the public at large. The further explaining of numbers could easily be done to MP`s in response to the questions they may have in regards to the published numbers. The numbers could be published on the PBO webpage without further comment from the officer.

            It is ultimately the MP who is responsible for combing through the numbers, those given by the government and those numbers given by the PBO.

            In fact, Page has never just published the numbers. He has always delivered comment alongside his numbers.

            Sorry, but you are distorting the picture to be able to paint it a rosy Kevin Page pink.

        • Accounting trick is the proper term to use not simply being a politician fool.

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    • At least you people are finally starting to acknowledge that Kevin Page is a partisan. But I’d always assumed he was going to run for the NDP. Because if you’re going to run on an accountability ticket, the Liberals are the last party in Canada you’d want to do that with.

      • If you are referring to me as you people then you should know what I thing I said.

        I have never said that Page was partisan; I noted he had the political skills to be an effective partisan if he wanted.

        Page was attention seeking. He followed the lead of the Auditor General and met the same kind of response from the public (adoration). What most governments across the country have learned is that when an effective Auditor or ombudsman makes some pointed remarks, it is better to get in front of the issue and accept the recommendations that make sense.

        Time and time again, when facts have been pointed out to this government, their first instinct is to start a fight and drag out the fight until the other side gives up. (It worked wonders against the Liberals rants about due process)

        In Page’s case, recall when he pointed out that the Conservatives were not following Treasury Board guidelines for the lifetime of the fighters. That was a simple (and readily verifiable) fact. Yet the Conservatives fought for almost a month and then started using weasel words and then finally caved. As a nonConservative I was of course pleased they chose to look like idiots. Now in retrospect, every time Page pops back up the media will report how his numbers stood the test of time and the personal attacks the Conservatives made upon him for telling truth. Unfortunately for the Conservatives, most Canadians don’t care about his detailed mandate, or the rules he was expected to follow. They know that he spoke the truth to them when the Conservatives were lying. That is why his approval ratings are about 2 times Harpers.

        • Interesting. So you do take the average voter for ignorant, more or less:

          “Unfortunately for the Conservatives, most Canadians don’t care about his
          detailed mandate, or the rules he was expected to follow.“

          And Page might have suspected as much……………but he was a man not doing politics.

          Some day someone needs to come up with a solid definition of the term politics, because there is a lot of politics being played with the world politics, or not.

          • Francien, you really need to read some of your own stuff.

            Yes I take the average voter to be disinterested in politics between elections… and not really that engaged at election time. So yes, technically that would be ignorant.

            You on the other hand claim that all of Canadian society is too immature to be involved in decision making on tough societal issues. You go so far as to claim that the suppression of democracy is necessary until Canadians have matured sufficiently to be involved in the decision making process.

            Which comment about Canadians is more derogatory?

          • To answer your question may I suggest you have a look at one of my postings, this one in particular:

            “Thank you Aaron for posting the videos.“

            ….and tell me why people would even be that immature to put thumbs down to comments like that…………

            Try to get a feel for the maturity expressed within postings here on this comment board or on others.

            You may differ from my opinion that our citizens, on average, are acting mature. It`s just that I have a very difficult time finding that maturity.

            Some days I think it is so much better to just play along and become ignorant, like so many others (and yes, I have played that game, and someone wise enough should be able to tell the difference). Ignorance is bliss, or so they say……

            But I am mostly serious enough here on these boards. But patience can run short at times.

          • All I want is for the Conservatives, or whoever else is governing the country, to be absolutely honest, and very thrifty and cautious, when spending the taxpayer’s money. If they deviate from that course, they should promptly correct themselves – hopefully, before anyone else has to point their errors out to them.

            Any other choice – any attempt to resist, delay, or obfuscate – should not be tolerated.

            This is a pity, because in other respects, I far prefer Harper to the alternatives.

      • Yes, “Rick”, there, there.

  2. Kevin Page, the Parliamentary Budget Officer, has announced
    that he will not seek reappointment in 2013.

    This will end an experiment in “transparency and
    accountability” that was doomed from the beginning. Since its creation, the PBO has been in a
    constant battle with Harper’s federal government over his independence,
    inadequate budget and lack of staff.



    • Ah, the G&M. That says a lot, doesn’t it? Or should I say : “it says something” so as to not be politically incorrect. Saying something is politically correct, right?

    • Right, because Kevin Page is the only many in Canada who has any experience with transparency and accountability. Before Kevin Page, those words had never been spoken in Canada. The unelected, unaccountable Kevin Page is the most democratic institution we have in Canada.

  3. Mel Cappe is the only one who could claim to have been objective and none partisan throughout this panel discussion. Lori too, but she was not given much airtime, and that’s ok.

    Kevin Page and De Vries both could not refrain from throwing around partisan comments every now and then.

    What we need is more none-partisan panel discussions on this topic of parliamentary procedures.

    And we need more MP’s to do their jobs more seriously. That much was agreed upon by all the panelists. Perhaps they too would find it more helpful if an MP reads more into budget numbers and estimates instead of telling a Minister to apologize because he had complimented a young woman on the baking of a bread. Maybe some day the voters would want their MP’s to pay attention to the numbers too. Who knows.

    • “Maybe some day the voters would want their MP’s to pay attention to the numbers too.”
      It’s hard to pay attention to the numbers when the government won’t provide them. Besides which, as was made abundantly clear yesterday, even if they had them, MPs on the government side, at least, would not be permited to speak on them in the House if they had issues.

      • But the numbers have been provided. Not in all instances but in most instances. Only after Page became more and more political within his commenting when presenting the numbers, that the government became resistant to handing over information unnecessarily.

        You can not bolster an argument by including to the before what had only occurred afterwards.

        • Nonsense. We heard from Page (1) when he couldn’t get the numbers or (2) when the government disputed his numbers [and then tried desperately to damage his reputation rather than address the issues].

          • Why do you keep telling lies…………

            Kevin Page did present the Afghanistan war numbers without complaining that he could not get the numbers. Please stop spreading the lies. Please, stop spreading lies. Enough is enough!

          • OK; let me modify my last statement… “We heard most vociferously from Page…”

            Happy? I’m certainly no more guilty of stretching the truth than you.

            I don’t know if Harper genuinely wanted openness & accountability when he first created the PBO, or if it was intended as a sham & smokescreen – but the CPC clearly decided at some point that this openness and accountability stuff was not good, and that Page in particular was a thorn in their side. So they did the stupid thing – instead of addressing the numbers and trying to do better, they tried to block his access and smear his reputation. Some people fold under those circumstances; others see it as a challenge to overcome. Page is one of the latter. I strongly believe the reason it played out in the press the way it did was because of the way the CPC tried to “handle” and smear Page. And therefore, they got what they deserved.

            If Page was being partisan (and I don’t see it as such) then the CPC were even more so.

            Finally, even if we accept that Page’s statements were partisan, his numbers weren’t. The real spin doctors and fabricators are all to be found within the Cabinet and the mandarins who followed Cabinet’s direction.

          • `If Page was being partisan (and I don’t see it as such) then the CPC were even more so.`


            And there you have it, ladies and gentleman: as if this is a dispute about the level of partisan ship between the two.

            Page should not be partisan at all! That is the point!

            No, I have not said that his numbers were partisan. That`s why if he had just delivered the numbers and had explained those numbers to MP`s when being asked, and if he had posted his info online besides without comments attached, he would not have been partisan at all! But he choose not to take that route. He choose the route of being a public figure standing besides the numbers…………………………………………………………………….(is it sinking in)………………………………………………………………………

          • Note the key words there – if and I don’t see it as such – I was acknowledging your viewpoint, not agreeing with it.

            The CPC was very partisan; Page was defending himself and the attacks on him. If defending oneself and one’s work is partisan, then there is not a person with a shred of self-respect that you would not consider partisan.

          • That’s two people who you’ve called liars on this issue. Losing much credibility?

        • The government should just have bowed down and surrendered completely, providing all the information, and both admitting and correcting all their past mistakes. When it comes to taxpayer money, not a penny should be wasted.

  4. Thank you Aaron for posting the videos.

  5. Page’s adversarial attitude is clear in the discussion, particularly near the end, where he says the government doesn’t do its job the way it should. Well that’s an opinion, an opinion that the government itself would disagree with, and of course members of the government are members of parliament as well, to which Page says he is supposed to answer to. It’s not his job to say what they should and should not do, it’s his job to analyze spending. So the adversarial attitude and the straying from his mandate is clearly evident.

    Of course they never touch upon the real issue. There is a clear distinction between making estimates of planned spending, and making pronouncements about what should and should not be spent. Page often veered from the former to the latter, such as the time when he pronounced that the government should continue to spend on pensions as before because they had the money. Well, that is not a spending analysis, that is a political opinion. There are plenty of such examples. It is not his job to opine where the money should be going, it’s his job to measure, estimate and predict where it will be going, to assist parliamentarians with their jobs to scrutinize.

    Unfortunately, not once in this show did they touch upon this issue.

    • Stephen Harper and the CPC, extending the middle finger to Canadians since 2006.

      Party above country for ever and always, CPC supporters!