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Tory-created parliamentary budget office overstepping its mandate, Baird says

Minister of Foreign affairs John Baird responds during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, June 19, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

OTTAWA - The Conservative government says the independent parliamentary budget office it conceived, created and staffed in 2006 has overstepped its mandate.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird made the comment in the House of Commons as the Conservative government continues to take heat for refusing to disclose its cost-cutting 2012 budget plans.

Budget officer Kevin Page published a legal opinion this week stating that 64 federal departments and agencies are breaking the law by withholding basic information from him.

The PBO was created under the Federal Accountability Act in 2006 with a mandate to provide independent analysis of the state of the country's finances, government estimates and cost estimates of proposed new programs.

The government has frequently sparred with Page — with Finance Minister Jim Flaherty going so far as to call him "unbelievable, unreliable, incredible."

But while criticizing Page's analytical work, the Conservatives had never before suggested the PBO had no right to examine the books — the very job his office was created to do.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2012
The Canadian Press

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