The PBO's still not getting the information it wants

The interim Parliamentary Budget Officer reports on her latest plea

After her request in April failed to produce the necessary information, the interim Parliamentary Budget Officer asked again earlier this month for information related to the Harper government’s budget cuts, this time at the behest of the Speakers of the House and Senate. The deadline to meet that request was last Friday. Today, the interim PBO reports that, once again, she has not received what she needs to complete the analysis requested by NDP leader Thomas Mulcair. Here is her statement in its entirety.

In April 2013, I sought information necessary to undertake analysis into the 2012 federal budget. That analysis was requested by a parliamentarian pursuant to s. 79.2 of the Parliament of Canada Act. The information necessary for this purpose was requested from government departments and agencies. The first deadline for providing it came and went, and the majority of departments and agencies did not comply with the totality of my request. I informed the Speaker of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Commons. They asked me to write to the non-compliant departments and agencies again, requesting them to provide the information. That second deadline of July 19, 2013 came and went, and I have yet to be provided with all the information that I need to undertake the requested analysis. If and when I am provided with it, I look forward to performing the analysis and, thereby, discharging my legislative mandate.

It is the PBO’s mandate that seems, at least in part, to be in dispute in this case—”The Government continues to provide the PBO with information that falls within its mandate,” was the response from Tony Clement’s office when the PBO’s request in April failed to produce sufficient information—and it is the PBO’s mandate that the Defence Department recently invoked in refusing a different request of the PBO.

Update 4:22pm. A statement from the NDP’s Peggy Nash.

“Another deadline has passed for Stephen Harper’s Conservatives to hand over information about their budget cuts, but again they have stonewalled the Parliamentary Budget Officer and are trying to keep this information hidden. This is an outrageous disregard for accountability. The NDP believe Canadians should be told the truth – and that’s why NDP leader Tom Mulcair asked the PBO to study the effect of these budget cuts on the programs and services Canadians rely on.

Time and again the Parliamentary Budget Officer asked for information and the Conservative government refused. The PBO even had to take the government to court to establish that the PBO was within its rights to ask for this data. The court agreed, and yet the government continues to stonewall.”

“As for next steps on the NDP’s request, we are weighing all our options. But rest assured we will take the steps necessary so Canadians receive the financial accountability they deserve.”