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Kevin Page Suffers From Revisionist History

June 25, 2009

Renee’s earlier post about Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page mentions the criticism of the PBO’s release of the Afghanistan War figures during the election.  In fact, this criticism – raised in the media as well as by the BILI committee – seems to be the most commonly cited example of the PBO run amok and why the officer needs to be ‘reined in’.

I’ve found all this rather curious because I remembered that incident differently.  As I recalled, the government and the opposition parties all agreed that he should release that report, and indeed wanted and pressured him to do so.  I was beginning to doubt my own memory when I ran across this excellent article on the PBO from The Hill Times in which Page gives his version:

“I didn’t want to do it,” says Page. “We told people publicly that it would be unprecedented for any agent of Parliament to release a document like that. And then the media put a lot of pressure, with public support, on the party leaders and they all said we should release it.”

Page is at pains to explain that the Prime Minister’s agreement to release the Afghanistan findings was key; only when Harper consented did the PBO step in front of assembled reporters to give a single, explanatory briefing on the meaning of a technical document and only then after consulting with the Office of the Auditor General and other sources on how to handle such a thing.

This version is confirmed by archived articles here and here. So why is the government and the media pushing this notion that Kevin Page somehow ‘went rogue’ with his report?

And how is it that so many people can’t remember what happened just eight months ago?

2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 29, 2009 8:22 am

    The worst part, of course, is that Stephen Harper came to power on a wave of public outrage over precisely this sort of chicanery, vowing to open all the doors and windows to government. Funny how power changes everything.

  2. canworldjon permalink*
    June 28, 2009 9:37 am

    I’ve never really understood this idea that it’s more “appropriate” to release essential information about the government or policy until *after* an election. The justification? That the information will not get proper airing because of the time constraints and thus may skew election results.

    This seems patently stupid. It assumes that regular people are incapable of sorting through the “new” information and deciding if it is credible and worthy to change their vote in the upcoming election.

    The converse situation is the true problem: governments– including independent officers like Page — sitting on or burying important or relevant information until after an election. Thereafter, how can the People not feel they’ve been duped?

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