The tide seems suddenly to have turned - Macleans.ca

The tide seems suddenly to have turned

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In addition to yesterday’s entreaties, the Parliamentary Budget Officer has now apparently heard from, and granted extensions to, the Hazardous Materials Information Review Commission, Health Canada, Western Economic Diversification Canada, the Canadian Intergovernmental Conference Secretariat, the RCMP, the National Parole Board, the Canada Border Services Agency and Correctional Service Canada.

All this less than a week after Tony Clement maintained that the Parliamentary Budget Officer was out of line in requesting this information.

Update 4:41pm. I asked Mr. Clement’s office if there was any comment on the apparent decisions of several departments in the last day to provide the Parliamentary Budget Officer with the budget information the PBO has been seeking. Here is the response I received.

The government has always provided the PBO with data that falls within his mandate, and will continue to do so.

Rather than spending resources tracking money that won’t be spent, the PBO should be focused on his mandate: providing analysis to Parliamentarians concerning money that will be spent.

Since this post first went up, the PBO has posted correspondence with the National Film Board, Library and Archives Canada, the CRTC, Heritage Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

To review: Several months ago, Kevin Page requested information on the government’s budget cuts. Some departments complied, while most did not. After months of backandforth between the PBO and the Harper government over this request, Mr. Page threatened to pursue legal action, if necessary, to procure the information. He then set yesterday as the deadline for disclosure. In his interview with the CBC on the weekend, Mr. Clement said the Harper government was prepared to defend in court its position that the Parliamentary Budget Officer was not entitled to the information Kevin Page was seeking. Now various departments have come forward to say they’ll provide information. But Mr. Clement still seems to think Mr. Page is operating outside his mandate.

Amy Minsky summarizes the latest events, including the NDP’s call for full independence for the PBO and Mr. Page’s response.