Hey, look! The Parliamentary Budget Office is at it again!

This time, acting on a  request from Liberal industry critic Gerard Kennedy, they’ve asked Industry Canada for more information on the $4 billion auto sector aid package that the Prime Minister announced just before Christmas at a joint press conference with Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty.  

According to a letter sent to Industry deputy minister Richard Dicerni on December 19th with a response required by January 5, the office plans to “analyze the adequacy of the package given the public policy goal of these measures”.  In order to do that, they want to see the “underlying analysis” in support of the package, including “expected outcomes,” as well as the “analysis of the business plans submitted by the automobile companies including financial analysis of the big three”; a footnote asks whether the companies have, in fact, submitted business plans to the government. The office also wants more information on the “transaction structure” – how the assistance would be delivered (loans, guarantees, grants, conditional repayment), any pre-conditions that will be put in place, and the eligibility requirements. 

There’s no word yet on whether the department met the proposed delivery date of last Monday — given the holidays, it’s possible that Page’s office is giving them a little extra time to pull all that material together. But since the aid package will almost certainly be end up in the January 27th budget, ITQ is betting that the PBO would want to make sure its report is in Kennedy’s hands before parliamentarians are asked to vote on it.