The new Parliamentary Budget Officer

Congratulations to Jean-Denis Frechette

Government House leader Peter Van Loan has officially announced Jean-Denis Fréchette as the new parliamentary budget officer. Here is Mr. Fréchette’s official biography.

Jean-Denis Fréchette’s 27-year career with the Library of Parliament has seen him serve most recently as the Senior Director of the Economics, Resources and International Affairs Division. He was the acting Director General of the Parliamentary Information and Research Service in 2012-2013 and prior to that, Senior Director of the Industry, Innovation and Resources Division for more than three years.

Prior to his current position, Mr. Fréchette held management positions and performed economic analysis roles in the Library’s Economics Division and the Resources and Environment Section. He also served as a Co-Principal on the Library’s team providing support to parliamentarians in respect of the Government’s Main Estimates.

Mr. Fréchette’s interaction with Canada’s resource economy dates back to his earliest appointment in 1986 with the Library as the lead analyst assigned to the Senate and House of Commons committees on agriculture, forestry and fisheries among other committees.

Before his employment at the Library of Parliament, Mr. Fréchette worked as an economist with the Dairy Farmers of Canada, Hydro-Québec and the Université de Moncton. Mr. Fréchette was educated at the Université de Montréal where he obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in economics in 1980. He also earned a Master of Science degree in economics specializing in public finance, regional development and international trade in 1986.

The Globe’s Bill Curry previewed Mr. Fréchette’s possible appointment last month. Kevin Page states his concerns to the Citizen.

NDP finance critic Peggy Nash welcomes Mr. Fréchette with the following.

On behalf of the Official Opposition, I congratulate Jean-Denis Fréchette on his appointment as Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO).

Members of Parliament, and all Canadians, have relied on the PBO to produce high quality and objective analysis on our economy, federal budget, cuts to government services and our fiscal sustainability in an open and transparent way. Through the PBO, we learned the truth about government mismanagement on issues like F35s, OAS, the deficit, infrastructure funding, crime funding and so many other issues.

Given the stellar work Kevin Page did earning the confidence of Canadians and informing the public on how taxpayers’ money is spent, Mr. Fréchette clearly has some large shoes to fill.  

We are disappointed that Stephen Harper’s Conservatives have resisted every attempt to strengthen the Parliamentary Budget Officer’s mandate and refused to ensure a thorough, transparent and competitive search process for finding a new PBO.

Instead, the Conservative government refused to consult with the Official Opposition, refused to have a transparent hiring and allowed the whole process to become tainted by Conservative political staff inappropriately included in the hiring committee.

It is now up to Mr. Flaherty and the Conservatives to make it clear that they will give Mr. Fréchette the independence he needs to serve parliamentarians and maintain the first class organization Mr. Page had built.

We look forward to working with Mr. Fréchette, understanding he has the added challenge of needing to quickly learn how to do this very important fiscal transparency work on a tight budget. We expect Mr. Fréchette to maintain the same high standards set by Mr. Page, including rigorous peer-reviewed work that is published publicly and open communication with parliamentarians and the public.

Mr. Fréchette inherits a debate about the fundamental nature of the PBO and a question about what information the PBO is entitled to demand.

The membership of the selection committee that submitted a shortlist of candidates to the government has been kept secret, save for unofficial reports about who was involved. I’ve asked the Library of Parliament for the official roster.