August 30th, 2013

Statement by NDP Finance Critic Peggy Nash on the new Parliamentary Budget Officer

On behalf of the Official Opposition, I congratulate Jean-Denis Fréchette on his appointment as Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO).

Members of Parliament, and all Canadians, have relied on the PBO to produce high quality and objective analysis on our economy, federal budget, cuts to government services and our fiscal sustainability in an open and transparent way. Through the PBO, we learned the truth about government mismanagement on issues like F35s, OAS, the deficit, infrastructure funding, crime funding and so many other issues.

Given the stellar work Kevin Page did earning the confidence of Canadians and informing the public on how taxpayers’ money is spent, Mr. Fréchette clearly has some large shoes to fill.

We are disappointed that Stephen Harper’s Conservatives have resisted every attempt to strengthen the Parliamentary Budget Officer’s mandate and refused to ensure a thorough, transparent and competitive search process for finding a new PBO.

Instead, the Conservative government refused to consult with the Official Opposition, refused to have a transparent hiring and allowed the whole process to become tainted by Conservative political staff inappropriately included in the hiring committee.

It is now up to Mr. Flaherty and the Conservatives to make it clear that they will give Mr. Fréchette the independence he needs to serve parliamentarians and maintain the first class organization Mr. Page had built.

We look forward to working with Mr. Fréchette, understanding he has the added challenge of needing to quickly learn how to do this very important fiscal transparency work on a tight budget. We expect Mr. Fréchette to maintain the same high standards set by Mr. Page, including rigorous peer-reviewed work that is published publicly and open communication with parliamentarians and the public.