Great work, but never mind

In June, Tony Clement commended the government operations committee on its study of estimates reform. This week, Tony Clement rejected several of the  committee’s key recommendations.

The committee had also asked that each department’s annual spending plans, tabled in the House each spring, include details on the value of tax breaks provided to corporations and individuals. Currently, the Finance Department produces an annual report on these so-called tax expenditures but the information is difficult to link back to departmental programs. Clement rejected that proposal as well, saying it would make other ministers responsible for tax breaks that are solely the purview of the finance minister. “This would not be appropriate as it would not be consistent with the principle of ministerial accountability,” Clement wrote.

Committee members also wanted a study on whether the parliamentary budget officer —currently Kevin Page, who regularly bumps heads with the Harper government — should be given independent powers as an officer of Parliament rather than working under the Library of Parliament. Clement noted that the issue had already been studied by Parliament and that the job was considered a “natural extension” of the library’s work.

The committee included five Conservatives, including Mike Wallace, who, in July, said, “we will be keeping the government’s … feet to the fire on it to see if we can implement some of these changes.”