Pierre Poilievre held a press conference this morning to tout the work of the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO), specifically praising a report on the fiscal impacts of not reducing taxes for small businesses.
It was a moment none in Ottawa could have seen coming a year ago.
The previous Conservative government, Poilievre included, slammed the PBO on numerous occasions during its time in power.
The latest incident occurred just over a year ago, on March 17, 2015. On that occasion, the PBO released a report on income splitting which showed just two million households would benefit from the scheme and middle to middle-high income households would receive the greatest advantage.
Poilievre’s response was a statement dismissing the report, saying in part: “The high-tax parties think bureaucrats should decide how Canadians’ hard-earned money is spent but our Government believes in keeping more money in the pockets of Canadian families.”
However, Poilievre recently requested the PBO look into the small business tax cut that didn’t happen this year, and today was quite willing to endorse the PBO’s findings.
Naturally, a reporter asked about the change of heart.
Here is a transcript of the exchange (you can watch the full video above).
Reporter: Can you explain why when you were in power the PBO was a pariah and now his word is gospel? Can you just explain that?
Poilievre: That’s an outrageous suggestion (laughs). I didn’t comment on its truthfulness. I just said it was outrageous. No, joking aside, I think that government officials have access to departmental resources and Opposition members, Members of Parliament tend to rely more heavily on the Parliamentary Budget Officer. I’m very glad we created this office especially over the last eight months I’ve come to appreciate more and more the PBO. I expect that appreciation will grow further as the years go on.
Poilievre: I think it’s always good to have a healthy tension between parliamentary budget offices and the Finance Department because it allows for as much openness as possible in the finances of the nation and we look forward to working with the PBO and with Finance Canada for that matter.