'Maybe we need a bit more of the PBO, not less'

Yesterday’s QP exchange on the Parliamentary Budget Officer.

John McKay: Mr. Speaker, in November 2008 the PBO predicted a deficit, the minister a surplus. The PBO was right, the minister wrong. In December 2009, the PBO predicted a lapse in infrastructure spending. The PBO was right; the minister was wrong. In 2010, the PBO pegged cost overruns on the F-35 at more than $10 billion more than the minister. Again, the PBO was right and the minister was wrong. There seems to be a pattern here. The PBO is more frequently right than wrong, and the government appears to be more frequently wrong than right. If this is overstepping the mandate, maybe we need a bit more of the PBO, not less.

Tony Clement: Mr. Speaker, in 2009 this was said: “I’m quite concerned the Parliamentary Budget Officer sees himself as an independent practitioner who can report whenever he wants”. Who said that? It was the Liberal member for St. Paul’s. What the public can see through right away is that when the opposition members want to use the Parliamentary Budget Officer as an attack talking point, then they side with the Parliamentary Budget Officer; when they disagree because it does not fulfill their arguments, then they attack the Parliamentary Officer.

The quote Mr. Clement cites from Carolyn Bennett seems to date, again, from the dispute involving the Library of Parliament and the PBO’s reporting practices.

Meanwhile, last night on Twitter, Mr. Clement had praise for the committee report that includes a recommendation that further study be conducted into making the PBO a full officer of Parliament (including NDP and Liberal recommendations that he be given that status).

Kevin Pages says he’ll wait until the fall to see if the government responds to request for budget details before pursuing court action.