Kevin Page: ‘hopeful about the future’

Kevin Page, Canada’s former and first Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO)—responsible for providing independant financial analysis to parliament—gave a talk to students on Nov. 23 at the Faculty of Social Sciences (FSS) building on his time as the PBO, and his hopes for Canada’s future and tell his story.

“It’s a story about what it’s like to try and build something new for your country,” said Page of his publication Unaccountable: Truth and Lies on Parliament Hill. Released in August, the book talks about his time as PBO, and his many clashes with the government along the way.

“With Kevin Page releasing his new book, we thought this would be the perfect event for students that are interested,” said Nick Zelizniak, who led the organization of the event by the International, Political, and Policy Studies Students’ Association (AEEIPPSSA).

Page is also the current Chairholder of the Jean-Luc Pepin Research Chair at the University of Ottawa, a position tasked with studying Canadian political institutions and governance.

Page said that despite his initial issues with the position—weak legislation, a lack of interest and an abundance of secrecy—that the Parliamentary Budget Officer’s role is beginning to be accepted.

“I think some change is happening, the town is getting used to the Parliamentary Budget Officer  releasing reports on big issues,” he said. “The media’s paying attention, members of parliament are using this … you can see progress.”

While he sees positive change from the PBO, he says we have a ways to go.

“I think we have to do more,” he said. “Public service renewal is important, I think MPs need to review the processes that we use to hold the executive accountable.”

“There are people in this country who are very concerned about the state of our institutions, I think that cuts across all demographics,” he said. “It would be ideal if the student generation starts to get involved in this kind of literature.”

He continued that the student generation will soon have a vital role to play in Canada’s future.

“The generation of students now have been handed a difficult set of cards,” said Page.

“The more time I spend with your generation the more I realize that what you will bring to these challenges is the right style of leadership… I’m actually quite hopeful about the future.”

Zelizniak said he was happy with the event, especially the response from the attendees.

“We actually got a lot of questions, it was awesome, it shows the interest of students in public policy,” he said.

AEEIPPSSA will also be hosting a public policy conference on Feb. 6-7, which will touch on poverty reduction, marijuana policy, Aboriginal policy, and more.