Truth and Lies on Parliament Hill

Book - 2015
Average Rating:
Rate this:
A unique insider's account of the Harper government so damning that it cannot be ignored
In March 2008, Kevin Page was appointed by the federal Conservatives to be the country's first Parliamentary Budget Officer. The move fulfilled a Tory campaign promise to deliver greater government transparency and accountability. He was later denounced by the same people who appointed him to scrutinize their spending. When he challenged the government on several issues--most notably about the true costs of the F-35 fighter planes--and publicly claimed the government was misleading Canadians, Page was vilified. He was called "unbelievable, unreliable and incredible" by then-Finance Minister Jim Flaherty. Page's term was not extended and he retired from the civil service.
Page's assessment of the F-35 procurement was proven right, a major embarrassment to the Harper government. But Page's overriding concern is that Parliament does not get the information and analysis it needs to hold the executive (the prime minister and cabinet) to account. Parliament, he argues, is broken, with power centralized in the PMO. The civil service appears cowed, and members of parliament almost never see enough financial analysis to support the policy decisions they make. That was true at various times on the tough-on-crime legislation, new military procurement as well as changes to the Canada Health Transfer and Old Age Security.
In this shocking insider's account, Page argues that democracy is being undermined by an increasingly autocratic government that does not respect facts that run counter to its political agenda. Elected officials need accurate, independently verified data to support the implementation of policies and programs. In Unaccountable , Page tells all Canadians why we should be concerned.
Publisher: Toronto, Ontario : Penguin Canada, ©2015.
ISBN: 9780670068166
Characteristics: 216 pages ;,24 cm
Additional Contributors: Stenlund, K. Vern - Author


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Jun 26, 2016

Kevin Page has some very strong opinions about the Harper government and isn't afraid to express them. An interesting read about the political activities in Ottawa.

Nov 21, 2015

Excellent insight to the PBO office & creation to increase transparency regarding budget costs. A Stephen Harper initiative with ironic twist after the Conservatives were elected. Beyond the ill feelings, Kevin & staff fought the good fight in a difficult political situation.
The Liberals have promised to keep the PBO funding & independence so this needs to be followed up on.
Example the Liberals are claiming a $4B deficit while the PBO website shows a $1.2B surplus ! A red herring from Scott Bryson?

Nov 08, 2015

But Harper Agenda
The description of this book is misleading and doubles down on the Anyone But Harper vibe that is somewhat less pronounced in the book itself. It is not true that “Page’s assessment of the F-35 procurement was proven right, a major embarrassment to the Harper government.” The PBO costing of the F-35 differed from DND estimates for acquisition costs (the only costs presented by DND at the time that the PBO did its costing) and operating costs, where the DND only published its estimates later. However, the differences in costing appeared much more dramatic than they were when DND estimates for acquisition costs were compared with PBO estimates for acquisition and operating costs combined. It is really hard to see what is meant by “right” in this context, since no actual acquisition or operating costs are available, and if PM Trudeau stands by his decision not to buy F-35s, none ever will be.
Published less than two months before the October 19 election, the book contains a number of errors of fact and omissions that suggest it was rushed into print to serve as a source document for Anyone But Harper activists. That said, the PBO under Mr. Page’s direction did do excellent work, which is well-described here, and Mr. Page is surely right in saying that we need a PBO that reports to Parliament and not to the Parliamentary Librarian. We also need a PBO that doesn’t release reports once an election writ has dropped, like the PBO report on the War in Afghanistan that was released just five days before the 2008 election. The Standing Joint Committee on the Library of Parliament in a 2009 report on issues related to the PBO made this recommendation, which is nowhere mentioned in Mr. Page’s memoir.
Unfortunately, although he frequently mentions Jeff Danforth and most of the other staffers behind the Economic and Fiscal Assessment Report of 2009, Mr. Page makes no mention that the prominence it gave to estimates of real gross domestic income (GDI) was an important spur to Statistics Canada producing its own real GDI estimates. Incorporating gains or losses due to changes in the terms of trade, the real GDI estimates provide a far better measure of real income than the more commonly referenced real GDP estimates. There is no doubt that the domestic gross domestic final expenditure (DFE) deflator used to calculate real GDI by StatCan is a better choice than the quite similar final domestic demand deflator used by the PBO. However it is most regrettable that StatCan has introduced the statistical discrepancy into the gross DFE deflator. It was never part of the PBO deflator. This is a defect that should have been corrected by StatCan when it was pointed out to them, but never has been.

Sep 17, 2015

actually, that's "Unaccountable" BD


Add a Quote
Nov 09, 2015

I cannot tell you how the government effectively costed out the entire program because we were never privy to such information. But what I can tell you is that once the decision was made to purchase the F-35s, the government produced and distributed a one-page document in the fall of 2010—yes, a one-page document that was supposed to provide costing estimates for the jets.... We estimated the the F-35s would cost billions of dollars more than the government had projected in its one-page document—no small thing. The DND had pegged the number at $16 billion over a life-cycle of twenty year.... We estimated that a more realistic cost would be $30 billion over thirty years. Obviously, one of us was off base in our projections.

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at Library

To Top