Parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page said some astonishing things earlier today on CTV’s Question Period program.
In an interview with host Kevin Newman, Page revealed that he came very close to quitting after the Harper government cut his budget by one-third and demanded that all of his office’s work be kept confidential.
“It definitely was intimidation,” Page claimed.
His five-year tenure, which is about to come to a close, was also marked by some highlights. He called out the government for drastically low-balling the cost of the F-35 fighter-jet program, only to have his estimates largely confirmed in a subsequent auditor general’s report.
Unlike the auditor general, Page has a mandate to analyze Parliament's spending decisions and make determinations before the money has gone out the door.
Question Period also aired a clip of him telling Ottawa public-administration students that parliamentary watchdogs are under attack. He mentioned that the situation is the worst that he’s seen in the past 30 years.
Page is one of several officials who've been vilified or fired by the Harper government for questioning its decisions.
Others include former RCMP complaint commissioner Paul Kennedy, former veterans' ombudsman Pat Stogran, former military police complaint commissioner Peter Tinsley, Statistics Canada's former boss Munir Sheikh, former nuclear-regulatory commission head Linda Keen, and whistle-blowing diplomat Richard Colvin.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his cabinet are not known to brook dissent of any kind. It's amazing that after this record of muzzling and firing watchdogs, a claim of government intimidation by the parliamentary budget officer is still greeted in most quarters with a simple shrug of the shoulders.