Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Last Honourable Man

Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page will soon be out of a job. His term will end in March -- and he will not be reappointed. The job he holds was a Conservative idea. But Stephen Harper and Company will be glad to see him go. The reason is simple. Every time he does his job, he highlights the fact that Harper and Company are engaged in system-wide fraud:

The impact of the new PBO was evident after Page's first major report estimating the cost to Canada's purse of the decision to commit troops to Afghanistan — an operation Ottawa refused to price.

He went on to disagree with his former colleagues in Finance about deficit projections, costs for the Conservatives law-and-order agenda and challenged the Defence Department's low-ball estimates for the F-35 fighter jet purchase. The government's characterization of Old Age Security as "unsustainable" was dismissed by Page.

The Harperites, of course, were furious:

"I'd have to say with great respect, I believe that from time to time and on occasion the parliamentary budget officer has overstepped [his] mandate," Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said last summer. Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has been more direct, scoffing at his reports, accusing him of being partisan, and on one occasion, dismissing him as "unbelievable, unreliable and incredible."

It's embarrassing when someone repeatedly points out the the emperor has no clothes. But no one should be surprised. The prime minister -- a comfortable kid from Etobicoke -- keeps proclaiming that he is a cowboy from Calgary.

And so, when one of the last honourable men on Parliament Hill hands in the keys to the office in a little more than two months, all the right honourable ladies and gentlemen on the Conservative benches will cheer -- and give him a raspberry as he leaves.


G West said...

Don't know if you've been following it, but Edgar Schmidt is another honourable guy who's doing the best he can to stand up to tyranny and advance the argument that the rule of law still means something in this country. There were a couple of articles about him in the Globe last week (written by B Curry) and he was also interviewed on As It Happens on CBC radio.

I recommend both.

Owen Gray said...

Thanks for the tip, G. It's reassuring to know that there are a few people left on the Hill who have Kevin Page's personal integrity.

Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

I am waiting to see if and who they will appoint to this position. I am inclined to think they will drag their feet on it until the press lose interest in it and then cut the office out on the ground of budget cuts.

Owen Gray said...

I, too, would not be surprised to see them sink the office, Philip.

They did it to Rights and Democracy and the National Round Table On the Environment and the Economy.

Why not do the same to the Parliamentary Budget Office? It only embarrasses them.