Canada's new PBO is economist Jean-Denis Fréchette, a veteran public servant of Parliament Hill who currently serves as the Senior Director of Economics, Resources and International Affairs in the Library's research service.
"Mr. Fréchette brings 27 years of experience supporting the institution of Parliament,” Government House Leader Peter Van Loan said in a statement on Friday afternoon.
"After more than a quarter-century providing strong, non-partisan support to Senators and Members of the House of Commons, he brings a deep and serious understanding of the needs of the client group that the Parliamentary Budget Officer has a mandate to serve."
Despite his impressive record of public service, however, there are some people concerned about this hiring.
CBC's Evan Solomon is reporting that insiders are complaining about Fréchette's lack of budget experience:
Sources tell me ... he has never worked inside a central budgetary office. He's never worked on preparing a budget.
Some sources say ... he has no idea how to read a budget.
Some people are so disappointed in this appointment that sources are saying people inside the current Parliamentary Budget [Office] are now thinking about leaving office because they say the watchdog will now become a lapdog. Will no longer be as public challenging the government's numbers. They see this as [a] form of ... muzzling of the Parliamentary Budget Officer.
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The Harper government initiated the Parliamentary Budget Office in 2006 with a mandate to provide Parliamentarians with independent financial analysis of government policies and spending.
But Page, their first hire, quickly became the biggest thorn in Harper's side. Page was often at odds with the government over what he said was their unwillingness to provide him with complete financial and economic data.
He also embarrassed the federal government in several instances with scathing reports about the F-35 procurement controversy, Ottawa's crime agenda and its plan to raise the OAS eligibility age.
During the latter stages of Page's term, the Tories consistently and publicly lashed out at him, accusing him of overstepping his bounds.
Page — who now works for the University of Ottawa — was asked about Fréchette's appointment on Friday.
"He’s a very nice man, communicates very well," he told Postmedia News.
“But he’s somebody who has never worked in a central agency, that worked on a budget, and that’s something he’s going to have to counteract, for sure.”
That certainly doesn't sound like a ringing endorsement.
Fréchette officially begins his five-year term as PBO on September 3.
(Photo courtesy of www.parl.gc.ca)
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