This week in the House of Commons I participated in the Finance Committee review of Budget 2017 and the clause by clause study and vote. This lasted for two whole days. I was excited to have proposed amendements to this budget legislation concerning the powers of the PBO. Under the old regime of the Stephen Harper government, the Parliamentary Budget Office had been gutted and seen its independence reduced. The Parliamentary Budget Office reviews government proposals and policy to determine costs which are independent of Finance officals. This can be very controversial.
The legislative changes help make the PBO more independent and allow the PBO to help Parliamentarians (MPs and Senators) hold the government to account. I still feel that we need to find additional ways that make the PBO an extension of MPs and not a replace for elected officials. No one elected the officials of the PBO. It is the role of MPs to serve as a safeguard on the powers of the Cabinet (Executive branch of government).
This week the House of Commons continues the final reading and vote on the Budget 2017 before it is sent to the Senate.
Robert Falcon Ouellette