Friday, July 17, 2009

Globe Letter to Editor by Senator Carstairs

Senator Sharon Carstairs had a letter to the editor in the Globe and Mail today in defence of the Joint Committee of the Library of Parliament, of which she is a co-chair.

Let me pick on two of the points she makes.
The second type of report is that requested by a committee or individual parliamentarian. They are therefore not released by the PBO, but by the requesting party. The report on the cost of the Afghanistan war was requested by Paul Dewar, and it would have been immediately released by the MP.
I wonder how the Senator knows what Mr. Dewar would have done with the report? In the future, should we rely on the conjecture that MPs 'would' release reports? I don't find that satisfying--but perhaps I don't fully understand what the obligations are here.
We also believe he should respect the law and job description under which he was hired.
This point has been made on many blog posts as well--the claim is that the Officer has 'over-reached' his mandate. I am not a lawyer or an expert on public administration, so I have no opinion on whether these claims are true.

However, I think the more important and larger issue that is raised by the open letter is what the OPBO should look like--if the current law doesn't allow for independence from the Library of Parliament Committee and public reporting of analyses, then perhaps the current law should be improved so that Canadians can benefit from an effective OPBO.