Monday, October 12, 2009

The Opposition and the PBO

This week's Hill Times has an in-depth and detailed article about the latest political positions on the PBO. (Complete, no-subscription required link here.)

I don't really care for games of 'gotcha' and comparing who said what 6 months ago. (It often seems like the point of such exercises is little more than this.) If people have changed their minds toward a better position, that's great. Welcome aboard.

But something that does stick in my craw a bit is having the Leader of the Opposition demand that the Prime Minister 'unshackle' the PBO. It is not the Prime Minister who is shackling the PBO. It is the Joint Committee on the Library of Parliament. Look at the membership of the Committee. The Committee is co-chaired by Liberal Senator Sharon Carstairs. There are 8 Conservative members of the Committee, 6 Liberal members, 2 Bloc members, and 1 NDP member.

That makes for 9 opposition members and 8 government-side members. If it is indeed true that the Prime Minister desires to shackle the PBO, my math tells me that even if he did exert control over all government-side members of the Committee, the Prime Minister would still be one vote short. Moreover, the Liberal Co-Chair of the Committee has been a lead voice in the debate.

If the Official Opposition is indeed interested in 'unshackling', then I hope to see this position manifest itself in the Committee. I'm also curious about what position Committee members from other parties will take. I'll be watching.