Is the CMHC the new PBO?

Revisiting a controversy from the spring
A general view of newly built houses at Dadun village of Lingshui ethnic Li Autonomous County, Hainan province, January 18, 2013. Around 3,500 villagers started to move into 1,029 new houses, each of which measures 253 square meters and took two years to build, according to local reports. Picture taken January 18, 2013. REUTERS/Stringer (CHINA - Tags: SOCIETY BUSINESS CONSTRUCTION) CHINA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN CHINA - RTR3CQCO

Via the NDP, Global obtains correspondence between Diane Finley’s office and the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation before the CMHC released a backgrounder about an NDP MP’s private member’s bill.

I explored this curious episode and the math involved in February. As of March, neither the CMHC, nor Diane Finley’s office were able to point to a precedent for the C-400 backgrounder. And yesterday’s Global report notes that the manager of media relations for the CMHC “could not come up with other instances when an opposition bill had its cost posted on the website.”

Regardless of how it came to exist and whether it should have come to exist and how the Conservatives used its existence, the CMHC’s backgrounder was actually kind of lacking. Of the bill, it offered a single sentence: “The proposed Bill C-400 would cost Canadians over $5.5 billion per year in rental subsidies alone.” Further investigation was required to explain that figure, which itself is probably worth debating.

Possibly we should take this episode as a reason to aspire to a world in which all bills are subject to rigorous financial analysis and costing.