Kevin Page, Budget Watchdog, Accuses Government Of Breaking Law With Budget Secrecy. (one of the comments says: 5.2 billion – enough for lots of war toys…others are hoping Mr. Page runs for office…MB)
OTTAWA – Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page is warning the federal government that 64 departments and agencies have broken the law by refusing to hand over information about upcoming budget cuts.
In a letter to the Clerk of the Privy Council Wayne Wouters, Page says he has obtained a legal opinion that confirms his right to request and receive information about the effects of $5.2 billion in cuts.
“Whether legal action will be taken going forward will depend on a myriad of factors, not the least of which is whether the information is provided or valid legal grounds are advanced by the Clerk or deputy heads for failing to provide the information,”
“We very much prefer an exchange of views and a timely response of information so we can brief Parliamentarians appropriately on the plans to implement restraint this fall (and they can do their job to hold the government to account),” he added. “Freezing direct program spending over a five year period is a significant challenge and will require excellent planning,” he said…
Page argues that he has an important role in ensuring Parliamentarians live up to their constitutional role as administrators of the public purse.
Under the Parliament of Canada Act, which the Conservatives amended in 2006 when they created the Parliamentary budget watchdog position, Page says departments have no choice but to provide him with the data he requested in a timely fashion. The legal opinion he obtained from two University of Ottawa professors, Joseph Magnet and Tolga R Yalkin, confirms his belief.
“If information is not provided … there are deeper, constitutional consequences at play for the institutions of our political syste,.. So, here we have, at once, breach of a federal statute and a concerning weakening of our constitutional system of checks and balances.”