Take Page Out of the Library

Housing the Parliamentary Budget Office in the Library of Parliament may have seemed like a sterling idea when it was first established earlier in the year, but quite clearly the arrangement simply isn’t working. An irreconcilable difference of opinion evidently exists between Kevin Page, the first budget officer, and William Young, the parliamentary librarian, when it comes to how they view their respective mandates, especially with regards to the release of information and reports to the public.

As such, in keeping with the spirit of accountability and transparency with which the Parliamentary Budget Office was created, the government should remove it from the stifling constraints of the Library and set it up as an independent body just like the U.S. Congressional Budget Office, upon which it was modelled. Moreover, the PBO’s budget — currently frozen by the Library at $1.9 million — should be increased to $2.7 million, the amount originally planned for and approved by parliament back in the spring.

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14 Replies to “Take Page Out of the Library”

  1. D’oh! I keep forgetting that was all bullshit.

    Give them credit at least for setting up the PBO. I just wish they’d do something now to prevent it from being fettered by the bureaucracy. There’s a lovely bit of irony, huh? The qualities of the civil service that Team Harper hate so much are actually working in their favour to “cripple” the PBO.

  2. I read something yesterday, can’t remember where, that the Cons are slashing Pages’s budget by 30%. Seems they have no intention of increasing it & they still won’t open the books to him.

    No such thing as transparency & accountability. It’s been a total sham, & lie, from the get-go.

  3. It can’t be said that they’re slashing his budget because it’s really out of their hands. Rather convenient that.

    The problem is, as I said, that the PBO is forced to operate under the auspice of the Parliamentary Library that dispenses the budget allocated to them by the Finance Committee. Now, in a perfect world this wouldn’t be a problem, but it seems there’s some kind of antagonism between Young (Library) and Page (PBO). Page wants to make his findings public, whereas Young sees his function as being that of simply informing MPs and occasionally disclosing papers to the public at his discretion. Young is freezing Page’s budget at $1.9 million, holding back the extra $700-$800,000 (reports vary as to the exact figure) that was “earmarked” by the Finance Committee for the PBO. Why? Who knows. It would seem (although it’s just speculation on my part) that it’s pay-back (no pun intended) for Page doing an end-run around Young and going public in a fairly big way with his last two reports.

    It’s kind of a ridiculous situation really. Especially under the circumstances. That’s why I’m suggesting that the PBO needs to be established as a completely separate entity in much the same way as the CBO is in the States. Or for that matter, the way the Auditor General is here.

  4. Agree with you RT, but I don’t see Harper allowing the PBO to be a separate entity. Not with his track record. I’m sure he’s wishing he’d never created it in the 1st place now.

  5. Perhaps not.

    That would be incredibly unfortunate however because it’s really a great innovation that Harper deserves some credit for establishing. It’s something that’s been long overdue in coming.

    And that’s not a partisan thing, btw. If the Liberals were in power (ha!) I’d still want to get a more objective assessment of the Fed’s financial situation rather than relying on the less-than-honest, politically motivated assessments, forecasts, etc. more usually concocted by the government of the day.

  6. Agree with you again. It’s been way overdue. Unfortunately the Cons won’t, are unwilling, to show the true state of the books to anyone. Secrecy continues to abound. I’m sure we were in deep deficit way before the election too. Now we are getting more info when we hear things like when Flaherty says “we are going into a 30-40 billion deficit BEFORE we even do a stimulus package”. What further proof do we need.

  7. Tick, tick, tick, tick…..Harper’s brain working to try to figure a way to get rid of this guy.

    Mustn’t disagree with Harper you know. Mustn’t do your job if it interferes with him.

  8. Penlan — Wha? $30-40 billion BEFORE doing a stimulus package…? That can’t be right. I heard it was a mere $5.9 billion before stimulus with a projected deficit of $30+ billion to jump start the economy. But who knows? These folks are confusing me — it’s hard to know one day/week/month to the next which end is up anymore. What a total f*cking mess.

  9. I see the right wingers are coming out with articles today defending themselves – Manning, Solberg and LeBreton (sp?)…..I think the CPC Party doth protest too much.

  10. I think I’m blinded by partisanship. I might actually pat Mr. Harper on the back for creating the PBO. But by now it falls into a pattern, like the Federal Accountability Act (FAA): create something which sounds like a good idea, then sabotage it, then repeat the good sound bites ad nauseum.

    IMHO the FAA can’t be enforced without transparency. When I get emotional about the reduced transparency of the Harper government I exaggerate it in my mind like the 1984 newspeak language – where it is impossible to express in language any idea the party doesn’t like. It also eliminates shades of gray in favor of simpler black/white dichotomies… hmmm.

    Check out the critique of the FAA at democracy watch: http://www.dwatch.ca/

  11. TRN — That’s excellent. Thanks for the link.

    Calling Mr. Ignatieff… There’s a horse he should ride. I know the Libs don’t have a great reputation in this area, but that’s an initiative I think everyone could support. It sure would be nice to see it implemented thoroughly and with the rigour it deserves.

  12. Yes, RT, that is exactly what I heard Flaherty say yesterday. Now today it’s 30-40 billion over a 4 yr. period. As you said it keeps changing – daily. I have no idea what’s going on – because the Cons have no idea what’s going on. And they still are stealing Dion’s ideas. Economic council was his during the election & he also did town halls. Now the Cons are doing both as they have no plan on what to do with the economic crisis. They have to steal from the Libs & others. Can’t come up with their own ideas, unless it’s to decapitate the opposition. It seems to have been they’re only thought since they were elected almost 3 yrs. ago. Useless. And I’m pissed.

  13. It’s great that they’re “consulting” with people across the country, but as I’ve said before, this is something they should have been doing immediately after the election, not two months on…

    And yes, it does seem an awful lot like they’re just making shit up as they go along. That is, after the conniving assholes LIED through the election and subsequent to that… until they got nailed to the wall with the threat of being toppled from power (which is really the only thing they care about).

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