John Baird, one of Stephen Harper’s trusted ministers, is telling the Parliamentary Budget Officer that he needs to back off from doing his job.
This after Kevin Page, the Parliamentary Budget Officer, asked a constitutional lawyer for their opinion about the government’s refusal to hand over budgetary information. (Those lawyers say the Conservative government is indeed breaking the law).
It seems as though the government has been giving Kevin Page essentially the same message since the Parliamentary Budget Office was created. The office was part of Stephen Harper’s accountability plans – the plans he promised Canadians would be put in place to avoid another scandal like the Liberal sponsorship scandal. It was his was to differentiate himself and give Canadians something to vote for.
Since the creation of the PBO in 2006, Page has been denied information from various departments, he’s seen his budget cut, his authority weakened and his reports contradicted. (And when the Auditor General’s findings matched his, he’s had lies told about his reports). He’s even been called names by the Finance Minister. Now as Page tries to get access to concrete information about government cuts, something the opposition is also fighting for, Baird says it’s not in Page’s mandate.
It’s not in the Parliamentary Budget Officer’s Mandate to ask the government for numbers related to their budget.
NDP Leader Tom Mulcair told the CBC that Baird’s statement is a warning to Page, who has never been one to simply tell the government what they want to hear.
Unfortunately for Canadians, Page has said he won’t look for a re-appointment in 2013 when his term is up. It seems unlikely the Harper government’s next choice for the PBO will be as courageous as Page has been. That is, if they decide to keep the office.
Photo Credit: Andrew Rusk