Conservative MP Royal Galipeau should probably be cheered for initiating the PBO’s study of the costs associated with one of the Conservative party’s campaign pledges. Cheered even if he had no idea anyone but him and the PBO would ever know about that study.
But reached by telephone in his office on Parliament Hill on Wednesday, Galipeau who answered the phone, said he was surprised to learn that the PBO report had been made public. The Conservative MP said he would not have made that request with the PBO had he known his request was not confidential. “I would have found another way to get at the information,” Galipeau said…
Asked by CBC News why he made the request in the first place, Galipeau said he was considering making a proposal to Finance Minister Jim Flaherty ahead of the next federal budget. Galipeau said he wants to recommend that Flaherty also introduce a “fitness tax credit for seniors.”
Whether the PBO’s reports should be confidential has been a point of debate in the past and Brent Rathgeber has suggested that the fact that the PBO’s reports are made public has deterred Conservative MPs from making requests of the office. As I wrote in February, there might be room for the PBO to be able to provide private counsel to MPs, like the Congressional Budget Office does, but the trade-off should have to be a PBO that is funded and mandated more like the CBO.
As to whether the PBO should be reviewing campaign pledges, it’s another idea worth considering. In Australia, for instance, campaign commitments can be submitted to the PBO for costing.