By Aaron Wherry - Monday, March 25, 2013 - 0 Comments
Two years ago, the procedure and House affairs committee voted to find the Harper government in contempt for its refusal to provide costing analysis for some of its major initiatives.
Last fall, the Harper government refused to provide the Parliamentary Budget Officer with information about the government’s spending cuts.
And three weeks ago, Conservative MPs on the public accounts committee decided they didn’t want to see the government’s reports on fiscal sustainability.
Meanwhile, the Finance Minister says he doesn’t know how much his increase in tariffs will end up costing consumers.
But, last week, several Conservative MPs submitted order paper questions asking the government to provide costing analysis for several private members’ bills proposed by NDP MPs.
It is perhaps useful here to recall Brent Rathgeber’s words about the job of a government backbencher.
I understand that Members of Parliament, who are not members of the executive, sometimes think of themselves as part of the government; we are not. Under our system of Responsible Government, the Executive is responsible and accountable to the Legislature. The latter holds the former to account. A disservice is provided to both when Parliament forgets to hold the Cabinet to account.
Perhaps Merv Tweed, Ted Opitz, Randy Hoback, Kelly Block and Wladyslaw Lizon could use their next order paper questions to ask for the government’s fiscal sustainability reports or demand a costing analysis of the tariff increases. (Perhaps they could refuse to vote on the budget until such information is provided.) Perhaps they could submit order paper questions demanding exactly the information that Kevin Page is seeking. Or perhaps they could join together to propose that the Parliamentary Budget Officer be given the resources necessary to analyze all private members’ bills, thus saving the government the time and expense.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 11:35 AM - 0 Comments
Bruce Cheadle provides another accounting of how much the Harper government has increased public spending on advertising to promote itself.
Meanwhile, NDP MP Mathieu Ravignat has filed the following order paper question.
With regards to advertising by the Government of Canada during the broadcast of Super Bowl XLVII on February 3, 2013: (a) what was the total cost for advertising; and (b) what was the cost for each advertisement shown?
The government has 45 days to respond.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, December 18, 2012 at 11:03 AM - 0 Comments
Since the ability of MPs to hold the government to account is paramount in our system of democratic governance, it would seem odd to turn this into a question about whether MPs should be able to pose questions or to suggest that ability should be somehow limited. Rather, if one is truly concerned about cost, one might explore what is entailed in these costs and how the practice of finding answers might be made more efficient.
Mind you, Dean Del Mastro would probably point out that, in the grand scheme of things, $1.2 million isn’t a lot of money.
Update 12:28pm. Via Twitter, Brian Jean suggests he’s “looking out for taxpayers by holding the opposition accountable for the money spent on written questions.” For the sake of comparison, Mr. Jean might use his next order paper question to ask how much the government of the day spent responding to the questions listed here, here, here, here and here.