Monday, February 09, 2009

Run Free Kevin, Run Free

Too much media attention? Shouldn't be allowed to release "unilateral" reports? Kevin Page needs to be reigned in? I confess, Carolyn Bennett's musing on our budget officer are bizarre:
Canada's Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page, who last week warned that Ottawa's projections for climbing out of deficit within half a decade may be too optimistic and said the government's $40-billion stimulus package may have a smaller and less effective impact than billed, is garnering too much media attention and shouldn't be allowed to release his sensational reports unilaterally, says Liberal MP Carolyn Bennett.

Moreover, Ms. Bennett told The Hill Times that she's concerned with the tone of the massive media attention regarding Mr. Page's office budget and the public disagreement with the Library of Parliament chief librarian William Young, and said she believes it damages the institution of Parliament and the respect of the Speakers of the House and Senate.

The only reason that Kevin Page is "garnering media attention" is because he seems the only person in Ottawa that is giving Canadians the real numbers. Thank-god for Kevin Page, because without him, Deficit Jim would still be getting away with his shell game routine. As a matter of fact, I'm hard pressed to think of a more valuable public servant, acting in the public's interest. That Bennett finds it necessary to take issue with Page, at this moment in time, is simply astounding.

I do understand some confusion about Page's role, the limitations, possible concern about how he's dealt with his own budget, but to criticize his public presence as though counter-productive really makes me wonder what's the real story with Bennett. I can't make sense of this perspective:
That wouldn't be in the best interest of some Parliamentarians who might ask for a study, get the results from the Parliamentary budget officer and then want to release it, say a month later with all the stakeholders and be able to actually make their point in the best possible way. If the Parliamentary budget officer sees himself as truly independent, then he would believe that he could release it whenever he wants to, as opposed to the wishes of the Parliamentarian or the Parliamentary committee that had commissioned the study," said Ms. Bennett.

Does Bennett mean the government of the day might delay certain findings, say like the expense of the Afghanistan mission, because of the optics during an election? What is the danger of someone releasing data independently, and why should Parliamentarian's be concerned about optimal presentation. Seems to me, if people are genuine, then you have nothing to fear from Kevin Page, as a matter of fact, he'll be there to support your assertions.

In my mind, during the past few months, Kevin Page stands for "accountability". Without Page, we would all be more confused by the confabulation, mixed signals and dicey math. Page has effectively moved the government, brought clarity to Flaherty's mirage. In addition, Page seems to be ahead of the government, when it comes to projections, you can't understate his value to the public. Rather than worrying about reigning Page in, Bennett should be looking at why there is such a disconnect between a non-partisan economic assessment and the one present by the Department of Finance. If Page is getting attention, it's because of that disconnect, a mere overlap of government facts and figures, nobody would notice, that's the issue, not the "attention". Run free Kevin, and the opposition should be doing EVERYTHING in it's power to ensure he CAN.


Mark Dowling said...

Maybe Dr. Bennett is afraid that with a possible Liberal government coming when Steve is finally overthrown, Mr. Page might do unto Liberals what he currently does unto Tories.

Anonymous said...

Kevin Page is a one-man truth patrol. Let's keep him unfettered.

Gayle said...

What Mark said.

Steve V said...

Liberals hide surpluses, not deficits ;) If that is really the rationale, it's pretty pathetic.

Gayle said...

I changed my mind. I agree with Red Tory now: (From his blog)

"Bennett seems to feel that this vociferous “media-friendly” bureaucrat is usurping the role she seems to feel is more appropriately that of the Opposition."