Budget officer needed now more than ever

I hope everyone is enjoying their summer despite all of the rain and economic challenges we are currently facing.
It may seem like the recession will never end, but like the weather the economy will eventually take a turn for the better.
The main difference between the two though is that an accurate, reliable, and honest forecast is much more difficult to obtain for the economy.
There aren’t many reliable forecasters left, but one consistent and non-partisan forecaster is the Parliamentary Budget Officer. His name is Kevin Page and he is under attack from the Conservative government.
Like the Auditor General, the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) is an independent officer of parliament who undertakes important work in the public interest and reports his or her findings to parliamentarians and the public on a regular basis.
Officially, the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) was created by an act of parliament in 2006 and is responsible for providing; “authoritative, non-partisan financial and economic analysis to support Parliament and parliamentarians in exercising their oversight role over the government’s stewardship of public funds and in ensuring budget transparency.”
In other words, the PBO cuts through the political spin of both the opposition and the government and provides Canadians with a realistic picture of the economy, the deficit/surplus status of the federal budget, and any effects (positive or negative) that government policy will have on the long term debt load that we pass on to our children.
I’m sure you will agree that the office of the PBO is greatly needed in today’s world and that Canadians deserve a clear understanding of the effects of government policy.
If so, you are probably also confused by the fact that the Conservative government is actively undermining the work of the PBO through a cut to that office’s operating budget after establishing it just three short years ago.
Why would the Conservatives cut the already microscopic budget of the PBO when a reliable forecast is needed now more than ever?
The obvious answer is that Mr. Page is doing his job too well. He is too accurate and he is far too honest.
In short, Mr. Page is providing the accurate and unvarnished truth about the country’s finances which conflicts, sharply, with what the Conservative government is saying and what they want you to believe.
Just 10 months ago, Mr. Harper said that his government “would never, ever, run a deficit” and that there is no recession on the horizon because “it would have happened already.”
Mr. Page and his small team of researchers were the first to call him on this absurd statement, and have been politically targeted by the government ever since.
Through no fault of his own, Mr. Page is now facing a cut to the operating budget of his office which would reduce his staff by one third and which would give him just $1.8 million to scrutinize over $300 billion in federal spending.
This unwarranted cut is a cynical political play by the Finance Minister that is intended to hobble the PBO from carrying out its invaluable work during these troubling times. The truth it seems is the enemy of this government.
Times are tough to be sure, but Mr. Page and his staff have been spot on with their forecasts and have done an excellent job of making their reports accessible to both parliamentarians and the public.
This is why I wanted to take a moment this summer to let you know that the PBO and our right to unbiased, honest, and reliable information about the federal budget and the economy is under attack.
The New Democrat caucus and I will be working hard in parliament, in committees, and in the media to bring awareness to these politically motivated cuts and to protect this officer of parliament from the partisan attacks perpetrated upon him and staff by this Conservative government.
I hope you will agree that the determined and honest work of the PBO is needed now more than ever, and that you will support my efforts to protect the integrity and resources of that office moving forward.

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