Budget Watchdog Spends Last Day of Office in Court

The Parliamentary Budget Officer, Kevin Page, has decided to drag the government to Federal Court for resolving the dispute regarding his right to access documents and data relating to last year’s budget. On his last day on the job, Page is also asking the court, which will hear his case on Thursday, to explain the mandate of his office.

Page’s authority was challenged, when he decided to attend to a request of NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair and led his office to investigate whether the savings outlined in the 2012 budget were achievable and whether they would have a long-term fiscal impact. In aggravation of not being handed over the documents he asked for investigating Mulcair’s request, Page knocked on court’s door, eventually, after unsuccessfully threatening the government departments with multiple deadlines for handing over the over data. Page has further inquired from court to probe if the statements made last summer by Finance Minister, Jim Flaherty, and reiterated by Foreign Minister, John Baird, and Treasury Board Secretary, Tony Clement, accusing Page to have exceeded his mandate. Flaherty alleged in October, that “he’s asking for information about money that’s not spent, which is a very odd thing for the parliamentary budget officer to ask.” He added that “his mandate is to review government spending, not to review spending that was reduced.”

Page informed a media outlet that government’s choice of interim replacement for his position, i.e. Parliament’s chief librarian, Sonia L’Heureux , is not a good choice in his opinion because, although she is “a good manager in the library,” she has no experience. He alleged that “we have experienced people in my office,” and “people that have worked on budgets in the past, have run big parts of the Department of Finance, have steered budgets through Privy Council Office, and these people have the moral authority and the experience to lead.”

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