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Is there Enough Transparency with the Government?

5 May 2013

It’s probably the issue that the Conservatives are taken to task to the most – are they being transparent enough in their dealings, their taxes, and their revenue to the Canadian people? And although this is usually an issue reserved for the House of Commons, it’s now being dragged right out to the Canadian public. And it’s all because the Parliamentary Budget Officer, Kevin Page, has left his office.

The office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer was one that was created by the Conservative government when they were the official opposition trying to get into a majority office. The office is meant to bring more transparency to the government’s dealings, and show the Canadian people where their tax dollars were being spent. But, things quickly turned sour in the office, as Page revealed the real cost of some of the Conservative’s most controversial spending habits.

Two of the expenses being called into question the loudest are the real cost of those F-35 jets, as well as the true cost of the war in Afghanistan. Those issues are so large and looming actually, that Page is actually taking the government to court over them. He says that his office needs more authority when it comes to these matters. He’s also left his office, with no apparent successor in mind.

When speaking about his office, and the problems he’s having with his current government, Page wrote very specifically – and very personally – about what he’s seen during his time in office, and the dilemmas he’s faced while there. He said that he was only given two choices.

“Do the job – give Parliament and Canadians information they have never seen before – and face the wrath of the executive, and it will be the end of your public service career. Don’t do the job – say nice things about the government – and you will face the wrath of the media and Canadians.”

He says that after losing his son, his priorities were put back in order and he found the courage to do the job he had been hired to do. Even if it meant the loss of his job, which it inevitably did.

“We need to care,” he finished off by saying, leaving his task now largely to the Canadian people. “Canada’s Parliament is losing its capacity to hold the government to account. There are negative implications for prosperity and democracy. I am sorry if I sound brash, but we need to wake up. There is a lot at stake.”

But while Page’s editorial on CBC was met with mostly positive feedback and support, there are those who believe that Page is simply against his own government, and working for his own partisan motivation. He also believes that Page’s letter to CBC was mostly just sour grapes.

“While it is laudable that he took the government to court in order to force departments to open their books so that he could fulfill his mandate, he deserves no praise for his political statements about the government’s handling of his office or of himself,” wrote political blogger Stephen Taylor.

The Conservative government meanwhile, have been busily searching for a PBO that is “non-partisan” in their beliefs.

What do you think? Is Page right or wrong in this case? Was it the right thing to do to air the dirty laundry of Parliament, or is he simply upset about the fact that he got stuck with, in his own words, “a job that no one – including myself – wanted”?

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