Monday, October 12, 2009

Paul Dewar's Private Member's Motion

Re-reading the Hill Times article, the positions of the Bloc and NDP are actually quite clear.

The Bloc supports the independence of the PBO.
His party has been asking for an independent office since the PBO was created, but Mr. Duceppe said they weren't able to push for that in the committee because, with only two members on the 17-member committee they don't have enough of a voice.
The NDP's Paul Dewar wrote a private member's motion to make the PBO independent.

I don't know much about the nuts and bolts of how Parliament works, but according to this list, a notice was filed on June 17th, but the motion has not yet been debated. According to this document, there is some kind of draw for MPs with motions to be placed in the Order of Precedence. If I understand this correctly, I see that Mr. Dewar is #88 on the list as of October 9th. From January to now, they have gotten through 46 of the names on the list. So, depending on how long this session of Parliament lasts, the motion might make it to debate.

In any case, the text is on Mr. Dewar's website here:
That in recognition of the Standing Joint Committee on Library of Parliament‘s recommendation for the review of the effectiveness of the position of the Parliamentary Budget Officer, the House recognizes the importance of the office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer in ensuring accountability and to that end calls on the government to enact legislation that ensures the office of Parliamentary Budget Officer is independent of the Library of Parliament, the executive or any other branch, is answerable to Parliament only and receives adequate and sustained resources to continue its important work.
Given Mr. Duceppe's stated position, I suspect this wording will be acceptable to the Bloc. We can also likely guess that Mr. Dewar has the support of his colleagues in the NDP. With sufficient Liberal support, this could pass.

Of course, this motion doesn't literally change anything. It is a just a call for Parliament to enact new legislation. But it would be a meaningful expression of the will of Parliament.