Don Martin: Expect a poodle, not a pitbull, as next PBO
Published Friday, March 8, 2013 5:40PM EST
Last Updated Friday, March 8, 2013 5:58PM EST
Perhaps it's too much to expect this government to find and appoint senators who actually live in the province they're going to represent. For most dignified Canadians, accepting a seat in the scandalized Senate would now qualify as a demotion.
But surely the prime minister can do better than appoint a librarian, even the top one in the Centre Block, to stand in for Parliament's fiscal watchdog, particularly with a crucial budget in the offing.
No other evidence is required to prove this government intends to slash and burn the independence of the Parliamentary Budget Officer beyond its bizarre appointment of a librarian to babysit the position being vacated by Kevin Page.
Sonia L'Heureux may have served briefly as a policy analyst in finance earlier in her career, but that's as close as her resume ever got to actual number-crunching.
This is not meant to deride the value of librarians. To find an elusive book or hidden archived material, they’re priceless. But just in case anyone missed the main point of this position, it is not about filing or cataloguing budgetary documents. It's about researching and writing intensely detailed fiscal analysis.
Suffice to say, morale in the PBO plunged on news of her appointment late Thursday afternoon.
Insiders note the headhunting committee L'Heureux has struck to find a full-time officer has one of the prime minister's own privy council sidekicks on board. The fix would seem to be in that a poodle over a pitbull will be assigned watchdog duty.
Lest we forget, the Library of Parliament had five years to plan for Page's retirement on March 25. Now the official who dragged her feet on finding his replacement is in charge of the office and the search. That suggests a slow and tainted hiring process.
Kevin Page did not do a bad job. He just did the job too well for this government's fragile sensitivity to criticism. They wanted a filter and got a mirror.
That's why they're now advertising for a replacement who will play nice with others and seek fuzzy consensus over hard truth.
When I emailed the nearly-departed Kevin Page to jokingly point out he'd never qualify for his replacement's job description, he responded with a cryptic observation.
"Unemployment," he wrote, "never tasted this good."
How sad. But how true.