Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Harper then and now on costing of legislation

Stephen Harper, the 1996 version, was a big supporter of full, transparent cost disclosures to Parliament. Here's a timely look back at some mammoth hypocrisy from Mr. Harper given current Conservative non-disclosure of major program costing to Canadians. Take it away, 1996 Steve!
Mr. Stephen Harper (Calgary West, Ref.): Mr. speaker, it is a pleasure today to debate Bill C-214, the program cost declaration act tabled by the hon. member for Durham.

Let me take a few minutes to outline the purpose of the act and what is behind it. The act, which is a votable item, would require departments of the government to provide a financial or cost analysis of each piece of legislation on its introduction to the House of Commons or at the time the minister or governor in council issues regulations or other instruments.

The auditor general would certify that the method used to arrive at this analysis was fair and reasonable under the circumstance. The cost would be disclosed in total as well as based on the per capita cost for each Canadian citizen.

This legislation would cause legislators and their departments to be more conscious of the financial impact their legislation would have. The PCDA, as it is called, would provide for a greater degree of disclosure and accountability for government programs and lead toward a more integrated expenditure system. It would give members of Parliament and the public more knowledge and to that extent more control and scrutiny over how government spends.

If this type of legislation had been in place years ago, I believe it is true that would not have so easily created the massive deficits and debt which the federal government is now forced to deal with.

That really is the purpose of the legislation, as stated by the member for Durham. I think it is transparent that the legislation is worthy of support. [...]
I guess the real question is why anybody would do it any other way. When we think about it, it is quite extraordinary that in this day and age governments would think of tabling and publicly adopting legislation without providing assessed cost information as part of the process.

I do not believe there is any chief executive officer in this country who would go to his board or his shareholders and not be prepared to give a definitive cost assessment on a project that the company had undertaken. Nor would any intelligent head of a household enter into a major purchase, any purchase other than out of pocket, without making an assessment of the real costs over time.

If anything, I think the bill probably does not go far enough. ...
My. Whatever happened. Oh yes, this:
That the House agrees with the finding of the standing committee on procedure and House affairs that the government is in contempt of Parliament, which is unprecedented in Canadian parliamentary history, and consequently, the House has lost confidence in the government.
He's come a long way, hasn't he? Just like the Harper coalition positioning from 2004/05 that Harper 2011 is now so desperately trying to spin.