Tony Clement believes in a strict interpretation of the rules

The Harper government’s argument for not cooperating with the Parliamentary Budget Officer’s review of budget cuts rests on the idea that budget cuts are not part of the Parliamentary Budget Officer’s mandate.

In an interview that aired on CBC Radio’s The House, Tony Clement, the Treasury Board president, told host Evan Solomon “I’m making the argument that [Page] is outside his mandate. There’s lots of work for him to do inside his mandate and he should stick to that.” … “When you look at the words in his mandate — the finances, the estimates and the trends in the national economy — it’s not about money not spent, it’s about money spent,” Clement said.

As Stephen Neil notes, the PBO’s mandate covers “the state of the nation’s finances.”