A few clouds

Winnipeg, MB

-16°c A few clouds

Full Forecast

Editorials

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Competent, courageous, independent

Posted: 01/25/2013 1:00 AM | Comments: 0

Advertisement

  • Print

Kevin Page's term as Canada's first parliamentary budget watchdog is coming to an end, and none too quickly for the Conservative government, which has made no secret of its disdain for the man and his ways.

Mr. Page locked horns with the government on a wide range of issues over the last five years, including the financial impact of its crime bills, the sustainability of the Old Age Security program and the true cost of the F-35 fighter acquisition program. He said nearly three years ago the federal deficit was structural and permanent, and it wouldn't go away by growing the economy, raising the ire of Finance Minister Jim Flaherty.

The fact he disagreed with the government line does not mean he was right about everything, but he was proven right about some things, including the ridiculously low estimate for replacing the CF-18 with a new American stealth fighter.

Mr. Page, who was recruited for the job from the federal Finance Department, says he was told not to expect a new job in the civil service because no one in the Harper government wants to see his face around Parliament Hill again.

The open animosity raises questions and concerns about who will replace him in the budget office.

Will it be someone with the courage to be independent, or an accountant with weak experience or who is reluctant to challenge the power of government and its stable of spin doctors and information manipulators?

As Prime Minister Stephen Harper considers the answer, he should reflect on the circumstances that led him to create the office in the first place.

As Opposition leader, he was critical of the poor budget forecasting of the then Liberal government, which routinely underestimated surpluses by billions of dollars. The apparent absence of sound forecasts called into question the credibility of the Finance Department and led Mr. Harper, as prime minister, to introduce The Accountability Act, which created the independent budget office.

The goal was to "ensure truth in budgeting" and to "provide objective analysis to members of Parliament... concerning the state of the nation's finances, trends in the national economy, and the financial cost of proposals under consideration."

Those were important principles then, and they are just as important today. Mr. Harper should ensure that the goal of the budget office is maintained by selecting a candidate for the job who is competent, courageous and truly independent of government influence.

Editorials are the consensus view of the Winnipeg Free Press’ editorial board, comprising Catherine Mitchell, David O’Brien, Shannon Sampert, and Paul Samyn.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 25, 2013 A12

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories? Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.