Roundup: PBO’s platform peril

Now that the budget implementation bill has passed, the Parliamentary Budget Officer is in the midst of transforming into yet another unaccountable Officer of Parliament that will have a broad mandate and few checks on his actions, given that the government backed down on their attempts to limit the scope of his work. What they didn’t limit was the giving the PBO the mandate to cost election promises by other parties, despite his objections to doing so, and so now his office is being forced to figure out just how they’ll do it. The legislation does make it clear that he’s only to cost individual promises, not their whole campaign, but it’s going to be an enormous amount of work that will be used even more as a cudgel than his work already is, and we can expect an election period being filled with taunts of “See, the PBO says that your plans will cost more than you say and he’s independent,” with the unspoken “Nya, nya!” in there. Oh boy. Anyway, Jennifer Robson has a few more thoughts on the issue.

The bit about a common baseline is possibly important, given that economist Stephen Gordon has been trying to match Liberal election promises to the current budget framework and has found the task to be nigh impossible.

Enforcing common costing baselines may sound like a good idea, but it does make me nervous about campaigns devolving into accounting exercises at the expense of other considerations, including accountability, and that we’ll have repeats of 2008, when we had clear platform commitments shrugged off by reporters going “it’s just so complicated” when a) it wasn’t, and b) it reinforces this “math is hard” narrative that does nobody any favours. But maybe that’s just me.

Good reads:

  • Justin Trudeau will meet with the prime minister of Ireland and have a private audience with the Queen in advance of the G20 in Germany next week.
  • The deputy commander of our Special Forces explains how that record-breaking sniper shot disrupted an attack and saved lives.
  • Despite all of their talk over Pride Month, the government has been sitting on bills that would actually redress current and former injustices of the queer communities.
  • The Supreme Court of Canada ruled that Google should de-index sites under an injunction because it’s not freedom of speech to facilitate the unlawful sale of goods.
  • Kirsty Duncan says no to $1.3 billion in new science funding per an expert report recommendation, nor a panel to decide how funds are spent.
  • The government is now allowing bulk imports of medical heroin for substitution therapy in dealing with the opioid crisis.
  • There are warnings that the design for new warships may wind up failing because nobody can supply an off-the-shelf design that meets all of our stated criteria.
  • Here’s a look at the senators stalling the national anthem bill.
  • In advance of Charles and Camilla’s Canadian tour that starts today, here’s an exploration of Charles as possibly misunderstood and ahead of his time.
  • The government hasn’t decided how it will fill the now-vacant Senate Clerk position, as well as other upcoming vacancies in that chamber.
  • The Phoenix pay system will be getting a management overhaul so there are clearer lines of accountability.
  • Andrew Scheer says he would appoint partisan senators if he forms government.
  • Chantal Hébert says that Trudeau’s popularity seems to be stemming from lacklustre premiers and opposition leaders than his own deeds.

Odds and ends:

Justin Trudeau met the cast of X-Men: Dark Phoenix in Montreal last week.

Here’s an 1868 Year Book and Almanac of Canada that made all kinds of predictions which we haven’t achieved.

Here’s how the Fathers of Confederation each met their demise.

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