Thursday, December 18, 2008

Man of Steel vs. the Incredible Shrinking Mandate

One of the crowning glories of Steve's Five Priorities Four Pillars Three Little Pigs Accountability Act was his paean to Canada's Gnu Government transparency - the creation of the Parliamentary Budget Office to provide independent analysis of the national economy and the government's fiscal position.

First budget officer Kevin Page, or "Man of Steel" as Jennifer calls him, has produced two reports since March, both critical of the government.
The first, released during the election, calculated that the cost of the Afghanistan mission not including military equipment will be about $18.1 billion by 2011.
The second, published shortly before Diamond Jim Flaherty vowed there would absolutely be no chance of a deficit next year, projected a deficit for next year.
"In his economic statement, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty projected a budget surplus of $100 million for 2009-10 based on the sale of about $2 billion in assets that he didn't identify."
Mr. Flatulence has since reluctantly come around to Kevin Page's assessment, predicting a $15-billion deficit, only to be contradicted himself by Steve who is now calling for a $20 to $30-billion deficit.

So it won't come as much of a surprise to hear that in the matter of the Department of Finance vs the Parliamentary Budget Office, old Kev has had his budget frozen -( h/t Steve ) - presumably because accurate financial forecasts are a dime a dozen lately in Steve's Fiscal Funhouse.

Actually it's a testament to Mr. Page's perseverence that he has got this far. Both Senate Speaker Noel Kinsella and House Speaker Peter Milliken want him reined in, arguing that the "budget office is simply an extension of the services the Library [of Parliament] already offers."
"The parliamentary library operates on a solicitor-client basis. This means any research the library collects for MPs and senators is "privileged" and can be withheld at their request. As an adjunct of the library, Mr. Page's reports would be done for MPs and committees who then can could use the information as they want."
Privileged. Witheld at their request. As they want.

In 2006 a document at the Library of Parliament outlined the various forms the Parliamentary Budget Office could take and decided it should not be granted the same independence enjoyed by the Auditor General. Evidently no one informed the Man of Steel.


Mark Groen said...

Poor choice of words there, "Gnu Government" - the GNU General Public License is a free, copyleft license for
software and other kinds of works. Hardly think the neocons could be considered free.

Anonymous said...

Mark, when the cons first got in to power everything on the government website was suddenly Canada's New Government this and Canada's New Government that so it became customary on the left to refer to them as Canada's Gnu Government.

Man o Steel vs Mr Flatulence.
Thanks, Alison, for keeping track of this.


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