Thu. Apr 18th, 2024

Liberals submit a project of law for a DPB in Quebec

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According to Liberal MP Monsef Derraji, a position of parliamentary budget director is important in a context where the plan to return to a balanced budget will not be known until next year. (Archive photo)

  • Mathieu Gohier (View profile)Mathieu Gohier

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The official opposition don't give up: barely 48 hours after tabling a largely deficit budget, the Liberals are back on the charge and will table a bill on Thursday calling for the creation of a Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) to monitor finances public authorities in Quebec.

If the province had such a monitoring mechanism, the announcement of a record deficit would not have caused such a surprise, believes the MP Monsef Derraji, at the origin of this new initiative.

It's not Monopoly money, it's Quebec taxpayers' money. If we had this independent institution like in Ottawa, we [would have seen] red lights for a long time and the government could have rectified the situation, maintains the parliamentary leader of the Liberal Party of Quebec (PLQ) in an interview with Radio-Canada.

Over the past year, all opposition parties have unsuccessfully called for the creation of a PBO. Again this week, Prime Minister François Legault said he was open to the idea of ​​creating such a position, but he also stressed that it is not a priority. As opposition bills are rarely adopted, does Monsef Derraji really think he will change the minds of the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ)?

There is already a consensus within Parliament, I hope that most parliamentarians will take up this bill, replies the member for Nelligan, who at the same time recalls that the CAQ itself had tabled a similar bill in 2016, when François Legault's party was in opposition.

So that we will have to wait for the next budget before to know the detailed plan for returning to a balanced budget, a PBO position is more essential than ever in Quebec, insists Monsef Derraji.

What François Legault has just done with his $11 billion deficit budget, he has just mortgaged the future of a generation, but we do not have an independent study on intergenerational equity.

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The Liberal MP for Nelligan adds that such a parliamentary officer will also monitor all future governments, CAQ or not.

With a view to tabling its bill, the PLQ made a request for access to information from the Ministry of Finance to find out if the government had considered the possibility of creating a PBO.

The result of this research, of which Radio-Canada obtained a copy, confirms that Quebec has looked into the role of PBOs at the federal level and in Ontario and that the various proposals made by political parties have been identified for a decade.

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Liberal MP Monsef Derraji received a request for access to redacted information on the creation of a PBO.

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">However, what about the recommendation made by the Ministry of Finance? Impossible to know, because this portion of the document has been redacted.

Does the department recommend a parliamentary budget officer? […] I cannot know, says Monsef Derraji, who nevertheless presumes that the ministry's suggestion was positive.

In the report obtained by the PLQ, the entire section titled Workforce Issues is also redacted.

Probably a problem of not finding the right person or not finding people, believes the Liberal MP.

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