Kevin Page: ‘The process should start over’

Government staffer reportedly on PBO selection committee

Colin Horgan reports that the chief of staff to Government House leader Peter Van Loan is on the selection committee tasked with providing a short list of candidates to be the next parliamentary budget officer.

The membership of the committee has been secret from the start and Thomas Mulcair raised concerns about that secrecy earlier this year. In March, the Globe reported that a member of the Privy Council Office was on the committee, something that Kevin Page expressed concern about.

Via email, I asked Mr. Page if he had any response to Horgan’s report. He sent along the following.

In my view, it is wrong to have a political staffer on the the selection committee for the Parliamentary Budget Officer.

It politicized the selection process. It calls into question the judgement of the current Parliamentary Librarian (also acting budget officer).

In my view the process should start over. The names of the selection committee should be publicly available (like the process to select the new Governor of the Bank of Canada). The committee should include past deputy ministers of Finance or secretaries of the Treasury or Clerks of the Privy Council. It could also include past Chairs of the House Finance Committee, House Public Accounts Committee or the House Operations and Estimates Committee.

The process should start over. There has been political interference at the first stage.

Update 7:09pm. A comment from Mr. Mulcair.

“This is a transparent fraud and it puts the lie to any pretence that there is a credible, independent process. This is exactly why I brought forward a bill to strengthen the PBO and reinforce its independence.”

Update 10:56pm. From the testimony of William Young, parliamentary librarian at the time, to the House finance committee in February 2008, here is the composition of the selection committee when Mr. Page was chosen.

On November 30, 2007, I convened a blue ribbon selection panel committee, which was composed of Maria Barrados, the president of the Public Service Commission; Don Drummond, the senior vice-president and chief economist of the TD Bank; William G. Knight, former commissioner, Financial Consumer Agency of Canada and a nominee of the Canadian Association of Former Parliamentarians; and Allan Darling, with me here today, who is my special adviser on the PBO project.

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