A new request in the PBO's pursuit of information

The Speakers get involved again in an increasingly long dispute

This morning, the interim PBO, Sonia L’Heureux, issued a new letter to government departments to restate the PBO’s request for information related to budget savings promised in the 2012 budget. This time, the letter was sent at the request of the Speakers of the House and Senate.

The Speakers asked me to write to you again to request the data needed in relation to the analysis I have been asked to undertake at the request of parliamentarians. Therefore, I would ask you again to fully comply with the information request IR0113.

This latest letter sets a deadline of July 19, 2013.

The history here is increasingly long.

Today’s letter follows a request made on April 25, which set a deadline of May 10. On May 22, the PBO reported that it had not received the information it required. That request followed a federal court ruling in April, which came about after a request for analysis made by Thomas Mulcair on November 8, 2012. The federal court dismissed Kevin Page’s appeal on procedural grounds, but Mr. Page greeted the ruling as an endorsement of the PBO’s ability to demand documents and seek recourse through the courts and it was with reference to the court’s ruling that the interim PBO picked up the pursuit and filed her request on April 25.

The first request from the PBO for documents related to the savings measures in the 2012 budget was sent on April 12, 2012. Seven months later, Mr. Page reported that he had not received enough information to do a full analysis. Two days after that, Mr. Mulcair filed his request.

The Speakers were last involved in this matter when they argued before the federal court that Kevin Page’s questions were for Parliament, not the courts, to handle, but, as noted, the judge allowed for the possibility of recourse through the courts (a possibility that the interim PBO noted in her response to the court’s ruling). I’ve emailed Speaker Noel Kinsella’s office and asked Speaker Andrew Scheer’s office for an explanation of today’s letter and will post whatever I’m provided.

(This post has been updated.)

Update 2:12pm, Thursday. An explanation from the Speaker’s office.

The Parliamentary Librarian reports to the two Speakers. In the course of a regular briefing, Ms. L’Heureux discussed the challenges she was facing in fulfilling a client’s request, the Speakers suggested that she write to the Deputy Heads and reiterate the request.

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