PBOWatch: The Librarian's Tale

In his first interview on the subject, parliamentary librarian William Young tells the Ottawa Citizen why Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page had to be “reined in”, and points out  — once again  — that according to the legislation that created the office, Page is not an independent officer of Parliament:

For Mr. Young the law is clear. Mr. Page and his office offer “independent analysis” to Parliament and that independence means from the government, but not from the library. Where he and Mr. Page don’t see eye-to-eye is over the office’s autonomy. He said the office was never intended to be a full-fledged and ‘autonomous’ officer of Parliament, but rather an employee of the library who reports to the librarian.

“As far as I concerned, I have no absolutely no interest or concern with the independence related to the analysis or the process related to the analysis that Kevin has undertaken. I don’t spend my time vetting any of the publications . The analysis that comes out of this place is independent…based on evidence, is reviewed and goes out.”

“The issue of autonomy, on the other hand, is something defined in the legislation. I go back to the legislation and assume what parliament passed is what parliament intended the law to say and as far as autonomy is concerned the law is quite clear. – the PBO reports to me and I report to the speakers.”

I don’t really have to say it again, do I? Good.

(In fairness to Young, it’s worth noting that the current confusion over the PBO’s ostensible independence is not his fault – he didn’t draft the bill, he didn’t pass the Federal Accountability Act, and he can’t change the law as written.)

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