PBO wont issue analysis on Ottawas finances blames government secrecy

by Julilan Beltrame, The Canadian Press Posted Nov 6, 2012 5:23 pm MDT OTTAWA – Canada’s budget watchdog will not issue a mid-year report on the Harper government’s finances, citing lack of co-operation from the vast majority of departments.Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page posted a partial analysis on the government’s $5.2 billion spending cuts plan Tuesday, but said a complete report that would be useful to parliamentarians is impossible because he just hasn’t been given enough information.He is seeking legal advice on whether he can sue Ottawa for the information, saying he will have an opinion this month.“We’re just saying show us the plan. This is not just a PBO issue, Parliament needs to see this and if they do see it and start scrutinize these plans, the chance of hitting objectives goes up,” he said.“But to say: We are not giving you the plan, totally undermines Parliament.”Page said he has been begging departments and other governmental organizations to report to his office their plans for personnel cuts and their impact on programs and services for seven months, but in many cases has received only a perfunctory response.To date, the PBO has received responses to requests about budget cutbacks from 91 per cent of government departments.However, most have supplied inadequate information, he said.Only one-quarter of departments, representing three per cent of the $5.2 billion in budgeted cutbacks, have provided data on personnel losses or the impact on services to Canadians, he said.“The lack of disclosure will prevent the PBO from providing parliamentarians with independent analysis on the state of the nation’s finances and the estimates of the government,” the budget officer said in the analysis.On Monday, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty reiterated his position that he does not believe Page is entitled to the information he is seeking.“My concern is his mandate is to look at government spending,” Flaherty told CBC’s Power and Politics program.“What’s he’s proposing to do now is look at government non-spending. I don’t see that in his mandate. I wish he would stick to his knitting, quite frankly, he has enough to do.”Treasury Board President Tony Clement took a different tack Tuesday.“All I can say is we continue to co-operate with Mr. Page,” Clement said outside the Commons.“We have done so in the past. We’re doing so in the present. We’ll do so in the future.”He said the government has a number of competing obligations,“so this process is quite all-encompassing in terms of our reporting.”Flaherty is expected to issue the government’s economic update on the fiscal year so far later this month.Page said his counterparts in other countries have no such difficulties, noting that his mandate is to scrutinize the estimates of the government, which would include both higher and lower levels of spending. He has the backing of the opposition parties on the interpretation.But Page said he doesn’t want to go to court, and once he receives a legal opinion, he hopes the dispute can be resolved.“The solution we want to achieve is a change in culture where transparency is the norm,” he said.“The PBO cannot hold anyone to account, it’s only Parliament that can. It’s Parliament that needs this information. Wouldn’t our fiscal plans be better if we had front-end due diligence by parliamentarians? That’s their fiduciary responsibilities under the Constitution.”Page gave no date when he will offer his next analysis, saying it will come “as further data is provided.”Based on information he has received so far, he said the government will achieve most of its cost savings from cutbacks to international, immigration, defence and social programs and general government services.Reductions in internal operations, or overhead, only represent about 15 per cent of the overall package, he said, but added that he has no information how service to Canadians is being impacted.Clement, who has claimed most of the savings would come from “back office” operations in government, maintained that’s the case.“I think we stand by our numbers,” he said.“Our calculation is 70 per cent of expenditure reductions are in the back office certainly and we took special care to make sure that core services delivered to Canadians were not affected by any of our budget decisions.” PBO won’t issue analysis on Ottawa’s finances, blames government secrecy AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email read more

Redshirt players making an impact for Ohio State

Redshirt-sophomore offensive lineman Pat Elflein (65) blocks during a game against Minnesota on Nov. 15 in Minneapolis. OSU won, 31-24.Credit: Mark Batke / Photo editorWhen Urban Meyer first came to Ohio State in late 2011, he made it clear that he was not a fan of redshirting players.Now, three years later, he might be changing his tone slightly.“Those days (of redshirting) are certainly here (but) if you are a good player, play ‘em,” Meyer said Tuesday during the Big Ten teleconference. “That is going to be our philosophy to continue moving forward.”The Buckeyes currently have 34 players on their roster that have been redshirted at least once.One of those players is OSU starting quarterback J.T. Barrett, along with three of the five starting offensive lineman.Redshirt-sophomore offensive lineman Pat Elflein said his redshirt year helped him get used to the college game.“It definitely benefitted me a lot,” he said Monday. “My freshman year, just being on scout team going against (Johnathan) Hankins and (John) Simon and transitioning to this level of play (helped a lot).”Specifically, Elflein said his time on the scout team and not being afraid to make mistakes were what made his redshirt year in 2012 so beneficial.“You can kind of just go out there and play (on scout team) and kind of get acclimated to this level of football and I got so much better doing that,” Elflein said. “It just transferred over to learning the offense after that and it all just came together.”For Elflein, it paid off as he made his first career start on a big stage in the 2013 Big Ten Championship game, when he said he thought he performed admirably.“We fell short last year, and that still hurts,” he said. “I played well that game, but we want to get back there and win the Big Ten.”Defensively, the Buckeyes currently have three redshirt players in the starting lineup, including redshirt-freshman cornerback Eli Apple, who was one of two players Meyer singled out when discussing the benefits of a year off.“(Redshirt-freshman linebacker) Darron Lee and Eli Apple are two guys off the top of my head … Will Eli Apple be here five years? No. My guess is if he continues to improve, that he may move on,” Meyer said.Lee is one of six players who has started each game on defense and is second on the team in tackles for loss for loss with 9.5.Apple, who has started all but one game this season, said watching from the sidelines last year was beneficial, adding that he learned a lot from veteran players at his position.“When I first got here, I definitely had my little struggles. I feel like that redshirt year really helped me a lot just watching guys like (Bradley) Roby, watching guys like (current senior) Doran (Grant), see how they handle their business and picking up stuff from them,” Apple said Monday. “When I came in this year, I really wanted to take an approach — take things serious, work on my technique, work on all aspects of my game and it has really helped out.”Already with two interceptions under his belt, Apple said that with each game comes more assurance in his abilities.“I feel like my confidence has grown after each game,” Apple said. “It’s just great being a starting corner, playing opposite of Doran Grant, somebody that just takes the game so serious. It’s one of those things where you have to raise your game up a notch every week because you got somebody like him who just goes so hard and has great preparation.”The Buckeyes are scheduled to take on the Indiana Hoosiers on Saturday at Ohio Stadium. Kickoff is set for noon. read more