A blog to give a voice to our concern about the continued erosion of our democratic processes not only within the House of Commons and within our electoral system but also throughout our society. Here you will find articles about the current problems within our parliamentary democracy, about actions both good and bad by our elected representatives, about possible solutions, opinions and debate about the state of democracy in Canada, and about our roles/responsibilities as democratic citizens. We invite your thoughtful and polite comments upon our posts and ask those who wish to post longer articles or share ideas on this subject to submit them for inclusion as a guest post.
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Sunday, January 27, 2013

PBO contract expires soon.

The Library of Parliament who are responsible for filling the position when Mr Page's contract expires in just two months has only now “issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) seeking the services of an executive search firm to assist with the recruitment and selection of candidates for the PBO position.” they then propose to “ issue a contract to a supplier who will then prepare the recruitment strategy and detailed work plan, including a list of activities and timeline.”. Given the speed with which government typically moves on such issues it is clear that this position will remain vacant for some time whilst they form “a committee whose mandate is to provide the names of three candidates for the position of PBO to the Leader of the Government”, said committee to “include former senior officials who worked in federal public administrations, such as former Auditors General, past PCO Clerks, former heads of other central agencies and possibly former parliamentarians who are knowledgeable in this area of expertise.”

Opposition leaders and others have already expressed concern over such process not having been started some time ago and whether the selected candidate when eventually appointed will in fact be both qualified and continue to be an independent and non partisan individual able to stand up to government pressure to be less forthcoming in his (or her) reports. Some have even speculated that the position and the under staffed and underfunded department may be eliminated. Given the Harper regimes modus oprandi of hiding as much of their financial shell game as possible from both parliament and the public I would say that is a very real possibility, but more probable is the appointment of a right wing friendly less forceful individual.

Whatever happens Mr Page and his team, who hopefully remain able to continue their work without restriction, will be hard to replace. It takes a very special individual to stand up to the Prime Minister of Canada and his minions when they seek to restrict access to documents and data that are essential in order to fully inform or members of parliament of the financial implications of government proposals and past actions. Mr Page is clearly such a man and, as I have said before deserves far more recognition than he can expect to receive whilst this regime is in power.

The first day he took office as Canada’s first budget watchdog Kevin Page knew he was effectively deep-sixing his 27-year-long career as a public servant. He believed that if he was going to establish an effective, independent Parliamentary Budget Office, it would mean becoming a prickly and persistent thorn in the side of Stephen Harper’s freshly elected government. There would be no welcome mat for him in the public service once his five-year term ends in March.
I was told by different people, you are not going back to the Department of Finance, there won’t be a public sector job,” he said recently in an interview about his coming end of term.
Given that as things stand now the PBO is not an independent body but operates under the Library of Parliament at the whim of the PMO it can be seen that this office could well degenerate into yet another toothless plutocracy, it is as Mr Page himself says the office needs to be redefined in law for its own protection. It’s untenable that a watchdog serve at the pleasure of the person being watched, he argues.
Opposition parties, perhaps eyeing the day they might gain power and be saddled with a nettlesome PBO, initially raised few objections to the way the PBO was established.
Mr. Page says the office and its way of operations are well established. Now Canadians and MPs need to ask themselves a question.
The big issue becomes: Does Parliament at large want this office? Do Canadians want this office?”

The resounding answer to that is YES, but there is a real concern that we will not continue to receive the clear and unbiased reporting that Mr Page and his team have provided over the last several years. Given that now the Speaker and others are opposing Mr Pages efforts to have the courts on his efforts to get sufficient information to provide a realistic report upon the budget that seem highly probable.

New documents filed in Federal Court show that lawyers for the Speaker of the House of Commons and Speaker of the Senate will now participate in the case to protect the jurisdictional rights of Parliament.
Lawyers for the two speakers and the Attorney General of Canada are expected to argue in court in March that it’s up to Parliament — not the federal court — to determine the mandate of the parliamentary budget officer.
The attorney general, in court earlier this month, failed in its bid to have the PBO’s case dismissed. Arguments for the case will be heard in Ottawa on March 21 and 22.
The PBO has asked the Federal Court to clarify its mandate and whether it has the jurisdiction to access details — as requested by NDP Leader Tom Mulcair — of the $5.2 billion in budget reductions over the next few years, including the impacts on jobs and services to Canadians. The PBO is not, however, seeking any court order demanding the release of any specific documents.
Meanwhile the latest from the PBO gives us this report which confirms what many of us have suspected for some time.
Overall, the independent budget office found that Ottawa's spending was down 0.6 per cent through the first six months of the current fiscal year, which ends March 31. Direct program spending fell four per cent.
But spending on internal services — such as communications, information technology, human resources and financial management — actually rose eight per cent. And the PBO report says capital expenditures, in large part driven by Defence spending, also climbed in the first half of 2012-13, up almost seven per cent.
Hmm 'communications' spending up, spreading BS from the PMO must be expensive.........

Thank you Mr Page, I personalty wish you well in your future endeavors I am sure you will have no difficulty in finding a position in the private sector, it is our loss and you will be sorely missed.

I leave you with this thought from President Obama’s recent Inaugural Address, no less true for us than our neighbours to the south.
Being true to our founding documents does not require us to agree on every contour of life; it does not mean we will all define liberty in exactly the same way, or follow the same precise path to happiness. Progress does not compel us to settle centuries-long debates about the role of government for all time – but it does require us to act in our time.
For now decisions are upon us, and we cannot afford delay. We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate. “

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The best candidate a PBO executive search committee could hope to find would be, well, a former PBO executive. That would be, of course Kevin Page. I hope he applies for the job.