Federal bean counter to visit Nanaimo

Kevin Page, the country's high-profile Parliamentary Budget Officer, will be at VIU Oct. 11 to discuss the current global economic situation and his most recent expenditure monitor report on federal spending. He will also field questions from the audience.

One of Ottawa’s top bean counters will be at Vancouver Island University in mid-October to educate students about issues surrounding Canada’s fiscal sustainability.

Kevin Page, the country’s high-profile Parliamentary Budget Officer, will be at the university, hosted by the VIU Young Liberals, Oct. 11 to discuss the current global economic situation and his most recent expenditure monitor report on federal spending. He will also field questions from the audience.

“He’s a political figure, but he’s also an independent figure as well. There’s no partisanship at all, he cuts right to the facts and he’ll pick on current day governments, but he’ll also applaud them when he sees things are done right,” said Mike McDowall, vice-president of the Nanaimo-Alberni Federal Liberal Riding Association.

Page is Canada’s first PBO, appointed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in March 2008 to serve as a watchdog on federal spending.

In his latest report, released last week, Page says the federal Conservatives have spent $60 billion in the first quarter consistently with what was planned.

In the past, however, he has criticized the Conservatives over projected costs of new fighter jets and the Tory’s new crime bill.

Some have dubbed him the ‘bean counter with a backbone’.

“He’s definitely a policy wonk, but that’s what you need in his position,” said McDowall. “He holds the government to account and he’s there for the taxpayers of Canada. I think he’ll have a lot to say that people in Nanaimo will be very interested to hear.”

VIU Young Liberals, which has a membership of about 30 people, started last year as the university’s first political youth group.

“It really accepts people of al political stripes,” said member George Anderson. “NDP, Liberals, a couple of Greens. There is even a Conservative on the executive. The idea is to get youth involved in political issues, learn about government fiscal responsibility and fiscal sustainability, especially in these times, and participate.”

Anderson said he is looking forward to listening to a high-profile personality speak about federal matters.

“It’s important for people to know how our money is spent,” he said.

Before taking the position of PBO, Page worked as a civil servant for 27 years with experience in agencies such as Finance Canada, Treasury Board Secretariat, the Privy Council Office and Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

The event takes place at the VIU campus in Building 356, Room 109. Tickets are $10 each or $5 for students. Seating is limited so contact mike.mcd@hotmail.com to secure tickets.

reporter2@nanaimobulletin.com