Thursday, October 8, 2009

Editorial in the Star

Today in Canada's largest circulation daily paper there is a big editorial in support of the PBO. Read it in the Star here.

One interesting nugget--the Committee is meeting today, apparently. (At 1pm-3pm EDT--so it is happening right now! They are 'in camera' though, so no webcast.)

I wonder whether the committee unanimity will continue? As the Star notes, the opposition members are actually a majority on the committee. If Mr. Ignatieff really wants to 'unshackle the watchdog', he should simply chat with the Liberal committee members, for it is this committee that is doing the shackling, not the Prime Minister directly.

I like the Star's line of reasoning here:
Unfortunately, however, funding of the PBO could be derailed by an arcane dispute. Page has been lobbying to make all his reports public – not only those he undertakes on his own but also those done at the request of individual legislators. Senators and MPs believe they are entitled to ask that research be done on a confidential basis. While that's true, they shouldn't hold the PBO hostage over it. Surely protocols can be negotiated to let Page do his sums and release the findings with minimal delay, if not instantly. It's all public money.
Even better is the point that--no matter who is right about what the current legislation allows the PBO to do--we ought to stay focused on what the legislation should say:
At root, PBO independence and transparency is in the public interest. Prime Minister Stephen Harper should have given the PBO more authority from the start. Unless this mess is resolved, Parliament should revisit the law establishing the office.
The goal here is to have a transparent, adequately funded, and free-to-have-its-own-unmolested-website PBO. Let's get that done.