Yet another government dissident bites the dust
It was only a matter of time before the best thing this Conservative government created was disintegrated and swept away. Unfortunately though, what’s being swept away is the last line of defence between the government and its complete lack of desire to be accountable or transparent with its finances. Commanding this last line of defence is Kevin Page.
Page, the Parliamentary Budget Officer and government spending watchdog, announced that he would not be seeking reappointment in 2013. Not a big deal, right? Public servants move on to bigger and better things all the time, but sadly that’s not what this is about.
It’s about the Conservative government handcuffing Page and the Parliamentary Budget Office [PBO] so it was unable to do its jobs effectively. When it did prove to be effective and reveal to the country how un-conservative this Conservative government really is, the PBO was publicly chastised and threatened with budget cuts.
Let’s not forget it was this same government that created the PBO with the Federal Accountability Act in 2006. Although it wasn’t fully up and running until 2008, the PBO was one of the Conservatives’ first policy implementations, back in the days when they were actually still sort of conservative.
What started off as one of the government’s biggest triumphs against the historically embedded philosophy of government overspending quickly became their worst nightmare in exposing all of their follies and hypocrisy.
The marriage ended when the PBO released their cost analysis of the Afghanistan mission in October 2008, which showed the government had understated already high spending costs. The Afghanistan report was just the beginning of what would become two years and counting of constant public bickering between the PBO, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and the Department of Finance.
This report would also signify the start of the PBO’s constant struggle for its own survival. After the Afghanistan report, the government wanted to reduce its already modest budget (around $2.8 million) by $1 million, which thankfully didn’t happen.
This move was an obvious attempt at pushing out Page for his insubordination and providing more information to the public than the government was willing to communicate via their daily talking points.
It’s definitely not hard to see why the government has developed such malignant feelings towards the PBO. The PBO’s job is to produce factual reports on the government’s financial performance. This job includes many things that the Conservative government doesn’t seem to be appreciative of, like facts, accurate statistics and challenging what gets delegated out of PMO.
Come 2013, Page will gracefully exit and the government (provided that they survive to see the day) will replace him with some partisan hack, something that has become the modus operandi of the Harper era. The PBO will cease to serve its created purpose and be nothing more than a government mouthpiece.
The government is getting quite adept at pushing out people that tend to disagree with their agenda. First Munir Sheikh, now Page; another one bites the dust. With Page gone and a hack sure to replace him, it will truly signify the end of what the PBO was created for in the first place.
Gone will be the in-depth reports about how and where the government is frivolously spending Canada into spiralling debt only to be replaced with reports of government “do-goodery” that everyone can see past.
It will truly be an awful day once Kevin Page leaves the PBO because it means one less competent person to keep an eye on an increasingly centralizing government.
Meanwhile, Canadians are left with more broken promises and nobody within the parliamentary process other than the Iggy-Layton Opposition to call out the government when it spends like a kid in a candy store with an Amex black card. God help us all.