Peggy Nash: Mr. Speaker, today I rise to introduce my private member’s bill, an act to amend the Parliament of Canada Act (Parliamentary Budget Officer).
I am pleased to present this important legislation. I would like to thank my colleague from Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques for seconding the bill and for supporting efforts to promote transparency and accountability, which are so important to our role as members of Parliament.
The position of parliamentary budget officer was created in 2006 after the Liberal sponsorship scandal, as part of the Conservatives’ commitment to government accountability. But despite their promise to create an independent parliamentary budget office, the Conservatives refused to grant the PBO the same independence and the same authority as other officers of Parliament, such as the Auditor General.
In accordance with the legislation, the PBO’s appointment can be revoked at the discretion of the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister, and not Parliament, has the power to hire and dismiss the PBO. This restriction is not imposed on other officers of Parliament.
Canadians and their members of Parliament deserve to know the real costs of policies and laws, and the PBO must have enough power and independence to achieve this goal.
Canadians and their MPs deserve to hear about the real costs of policy and legislation, and the PBO must have sufficient power and independence to meet this goal. The bill would allow the PBO to operate independently with a budget to fulfill his or her mandate.
Canadians want the government to be held accountable. We must be focused on ensuring that fiscal transparency and accountability are standard operating procedure in Ottawa.
Seconded by Elizabeth May December 12, 2011.