Monday, January 28, 2013

A Very Conservative Loathing For Their Very Own Budgetary Officer

The Conservative Party had - at one time - at least pretended to be promising "accountability".  Since taking office, however, that remains a pipe-dream for the hoodwinked targeted voters who lent them their votes.

The Harper Gov't has been ANYTHING BUT ACCOUNTABLE.  Beyond simply not addresses past government weaknesses, the Harper Government decided they would simply invent their own realities.  Shucking science, and any sort of evidence to support their wonton embrace of a narrow ideology, the Conservatives have elevated public lack of accountability to a new art form.

In most democracies there are a few checks and balances to keep a government from running away with public freedoms and disregard for accountability:

- Parliamentary respect for ALL MPs ("honourable members")
- Responsibility to provide all parties access to details on government spending
- Active engagement of political media and Parliamentary press (so the public can find out what is going on)
- Respect for a highly trained civil service which will advise the gov't if they are heading the wrong way.
- Being open and honest with committees.
- If all else fails, most governments will still respect their election watchdogs and courts.

Forget about getting the facts from this bunch.  They are beyond that.  They've followed none of the principles listed above.  Rather, they have thumbed their noses at more than tradition - they've created a government that is accountable to no-one. 

Now some will say, "but, they are accountable to voters".  Really?  When the Conservative Party does everything they possibly can to ensure voters are not aware of their actions... When they go out of their way to obfuscate...  When they are being investigated for potential election fraud... THEN, the so-called accountability to the electorate is meaningless.

Here is Ralph Goodale's take on the Kevin Page situation.

A commentary by the Member of Parliament for Wascana

January 28th, 2013


It was almost exactly a year ago now that Stephen Harper jetted off to Switzerland to give a speech to the world’s economic elite, announcing that Canada could no longer afford its Old Age Pension program, and he would soon cut it back.

That program to help low and middle-income Canadians has been in place since 1952.  Subject to income-related eligibility rules, it provides a monthly payment to each individual Canadian when he/she reaches the age of 65.  The total cost of doing that is currently about $36-billion.  That amounts to a modest 2.2% of our GDP.

This makes Canada’s Old Age Pension one of the most affordable social security programs in the whole world.  Similar systems in other countries use up 10% or more of their GDPs.  Ours is a bargain by comparison.

But Mr. Harper says the impending retirement “bulge” caused by all those post-war Baby Boomers, soon turning 65, will blow the bank.  He claims the Old Age Pension will become too costly.  So, he says, the eligibility age must be changed – from 65 to 67 years.  That will save big money, right?

Not really.  If no changes are made, the cost of Old Age Pensions will increase by the year 2030 to consume about 2.9% of GDP.  That’s up from 2.2% today, but still a small total cost by global standards.  With Mr. Harper’s changes, pension costs will still rise, but only to about 2.6% of GDP in 2030.

So all-in, the saving to the federal treasury is a rather tiny 0.3%.  Clearly, there can be no allegation that Old Age Pensions are unsustainable.

Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page pointed all this out, last February – just a couple of weeks after Mr. Harper’s erroneous claims in Switzerland.  The PBO’s findings were later confirmed by the Auditor-General.

Something similar happened on the Conservatives’ proposed purchase of F-35 stealth fighter-jets.  First, the PBO disclosed the Harper government’s colossal mismanagement and dishonesty in this multi-billion-dollar procurement boondoggle.  And then the Auditor-General confirmed he was right.

Time and time again, this pattern has repeated itself.  Kevin Page has been fearless in blowing the whistle on incompetence and deceit.

That explains the tirade against PBO this past weekend by Finance Minister Flaherty – ironically, just as he was jetting off to Switzerland for this year’s meeting of the world’s rich and famous.

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