Thursday, July 23, 2009

More on teh Parliamentary Budget Officer

A quick follow-up on a recent development with the PBO and the unfinished story of this office's "independence."

As reported over the last week or so, the Library Committee of Parliament recently agreed upon funding of the PBO's office to its full budgetary level by virtue of a unanimous all-party decision of that committee. A political compromise was reached on that vote and the independence issue was put on hold until it will be reviewed in two years. As Tom Mulcair put it:
"It's a condition sine qua non: without the budget he couldn't have done his job, we know that, so we got the first and most important job done, which is the budget for him to allow to keep the good staff that he's got and to hire more good staff and we're going to continue to supervise it very closely to make sure that there is no interference and I think that half the battle has been won. The other half of the battle is going to be to supervise, with him, his ability to do his job independently as he's always done," said Mr. Mulcair. (emphasis added)
Political compromise reached. Paul Dewar, quoted in the same Hill Times report sounded as if the rug was pulled out from under him, having introduced a bill on independence of that office recently. (Could be some interesting dynamics at play there as between Mulcair and Dewar, but, for another occasion;))

While the Liberals on that committee were in favour of keeping the PBO under the Library of Parliament's jurisdiction,which would practically neuter the PBO's independence, it's worth pointing out that not all Liberals are of the same view. Here's a letter by Martha Hall Findlay from early May which strongly argues for the independence of that office. I suspect Paul Dewar will have an ally (and perhaps more) down the road across the benches. It suggests that for some Liberals, the independence issue is not over at all.

(h/t pogge)