Saturday, July 18, 2009

Parsing Language

Kady O'Malley parses the language in the open letter and my opening post.
. . . the site’s creator, UBC economist Kevin Milligan, consistently uses “OPBO”, which stands for “Office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer” . Now, this could be just a semantic quirk, but it may reflect a subtle attempt to move the debate away from the individual who currently holds the job — the embattled but unbowing Kevin Page — to the office itself, focusing on policy, rather than the personalities involved.
My intention is not to be subtle. I simply wanted the broadest group of signatories possible. There is certainly a group of economists who like the Office and think the current Officer is doing a great job. However, perhaps there is also a group who like the Office but have some questions about the current Officer. I have no idea which group is bigger, and if there are even any people in the second group. But, I wanted both sets of economists to feel comfortable signing the letter.

Some have also questioned the use of the word 'Office' because it does not appear in the enabling legislation. I don't think it is unprecedented to have a different 'trade name' than legal name for a public institution--legal names can be cumbersome or lack descriptive character. In this case, I am quite sure that the PBO sits in an O, so why not call that shop the OPBO. Moreover, the official website--presumably vetted by the Library of Parliament--calls it the OPBO. I simply borrowed what was on the official website.