Kevin Page Gives A Lesson on Transparency
The more I read about the Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page, the more respect I have for him. He has proven to be an excellent choice for his position, much to the dismay of the Conservative government who created his job in the first place, back in the days when open government was on the agenda.
Apparently, Mr. Page has decided to release three big reports before the Budget gets tabled in March, despite the fact that Parliament has been prorogued. In a recent Globe article, Bill Curry explains:
The fact that Mr. Page is able to release such reports is due to the unique structure of his office. The Parliamentary Budget Office operates as a division of the Library of Parliament. Mr. Page has expressed concern about this arrangement, arguing that he should be an independent Officer of Parliament. There are currently eight such officers â€“ including the Auditor-General, the Privacy Commissioner and the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner.
However, these officers must table their reports in Parliament before commenting on them. Since Parliament does not sit during a prorogation, they are effectively silenced. Mr. Page, on the other hand, can simply post his reports online.
Through a quirk in the rules, Mr. Page is able to put the notions of transparency and accountability in practice. Something he’s already done on a number of occasions, earning himself the reputation among journalists for having “a strong independent streak.”
While I don’t necessarily agree with Mr. Page’s analysis of the current deficit being structural in nature, one thing Mr. Page has certainly got right is that recent large tax cuts are coming to haunt us.
Mr. Page says that government has yet to come to grips with the revenue loss created by these [GST reduction from 7% to 5%] and other tax cuts, leaving a future gap that has so far not been addressed.
These and the effects of population aging on government revenues will be discussed in his next report, which is expected “as early as next week” according to the Globe article. I know I’m looking forward to reading it.