Thursday, September 24, 2009

Response in defence of Library of Parliament Committee

In Monday's Hill Times, there was a response to last week's piece by Jean-Marc Tremblay. The article is here, but it is subscription only. The response is from B. Thomas Hall, who is identified as a past clerk to the Library of Parliament Committee.

Mr. Hall disputes many of Mr. Tremblay's claims about the Committee and the OPBO.

It is clear that Mr. Tremblay used some sharp--perhaps overly so--language in his piece last week. This generates the content of much of Mr. Hall's response.

However, the general thrust of Mr. Hall's argument is about the interpretation of the current law and how the PBO should act in order to be in compliance with the current law. I don't have any particular insight about the interpretation of the law, but I do observe that interpretations do seem to differ.

The question that interests Mr. Hall is how the PBO should behave in order to be in compliance with the law. That is an important issue--people should follow laws. No question there.

What interests me, however, is a different question: what should the OPBO look like? My observation having been a consumer of data from budget offices from other countries is that a greater degree of independence seems to be a good thing. I like that they can have a website and a blog and communicate things directly to citizens without the direct oversight of a Parliamentary Committee or the Librarian of Parliament. If that is not possible under the current law, then the current law should be changed.