What they said about the PBO

A short history of Conservatives speaking excitedly about the creation of a parliamentary budget officer.

Stephen Harper, October 6, 2004We believe that an independent, non-partisan parliamentary budget office should produce forecasts of revenues and spending which are universally available and accepted by all parties and experts of all stripes. Such a body would ensure that the government is genuinely accountable for taxpayers’ dollars and that we maintain fiscal discipline at the federal level.

Monte Solberg, October 7, 2004We want to argue very strongly that this independent parliamentary budgeting office be established much in the same way that the Auditor General’s office is established. It would be an independent body that would answer to Parliament and would not be part of the government. It would not be a situation where the government could manipulate the figures to its own ends. Independent officers of Parliament would make these determinations so that in the end the public, the markets and all concerned could have confidence in these numbers and know that this was not some great manipulation that was going on for the political benefit of the government. Surely, in a modern democracy I do not think that is an unreasonable request. In fact it makes eminent sense. This is nothing new. It happens in other countries. It happens certainly to the south of us, our closest trading partner. We have the congressional budgeting office where political parties really cannot play political games with the numbers because they come from an independent body. That is what we want to see, and it is reasonable.

Ted Menzies, November 15, 2005The need for an open flow of information to Canadians can be secured by establishing a parliamentary budget office and the immediate need to provide Canadians strong, more transparent auditing and accountability laws for the federal government.

John Baird, April 6, 2006One of the most important roles of Parliament is to hold the Government of Canada to account for the use of taxpayers’ dollars. To do this effectively, parliamentarians need objective and fact-based information on how the government spends funds. That will be an important part to the parliamentary budget authority that we will propose next week.

Diane Ablonczy, April 26, 2006There would also be an independent parliamentary budget authority that would provide a financial reality check on the nation’s finances. This individual would also provide a reality check on proposals by House of Commons committees and proposals in private members’ bills. Again, because numbers that have been given to the House in different other settings have been, shall we say, not as reliable as they should be, we will put another reality check and another balance in place.

Peter Van Loan, February 15, 2008. In an e-mailed statement, Tory House Leader Peter Van Loan said the parliamentary budget officer will be free to provide “objective analysis” of budget and economic issues as they see fit. The budget officer reports to the Speakers of the Commons and Senate, not the government, he said.  “The government is committed to respecting the independence of the [position], and to providing this office with whatever information and assistance it requires to fulfill its important mandate.”

Peter Van Loan, March 14, 2008“As promised in the Federal Accountability Act, the Parliamentary Budget Officer will provide independent analysis to Canadians on the state of the nation’s finances,” said Minister Van Loan. “With his expertise in economics, Mr. Page is a fine choice to fill this position.”