Book Review: Unaccountable – Truth and Lies on Parliament Hill 9780670068166

Book Review: Unaccountable – Truth and Lies on Parliament Hill 9780670068166

Unaccountable : Truth and Lies on Parliament Hill
By Kevin Page
ISBN 9780670068166
CAN $32.00
Penguin Random House

Review by Anthony Patstone

Unaccountable : Truth and Lies on Parliament Hill by Canada’s first, and former, parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page is about a government. Canada’s government. The Harper government. A ‘government that often appears to make decisions based more on ideological grounds than on economic and financial analysis and fact’ (p. 12). A government that ‘consistently attempted to discredit people who stood in opposition on the Hill or dared to disagree with its programs or policies’ (p. 15).

Early parts of the book of course offer biographical information on Page, such as his Polish origins, his childhood in northern Ontario, his studies in economics, and the tragic death of his son Tyler before he was appointed budget officer. Since the book is not about him however, Page spends little time on these personal matters.

Thus author Kevin Page, who officially became budget officer on March 22, 2008, takes us through 200 pages or so of the Harper government’s wrath, secrecy, work ethic, desire for ‘ultimate control’ (p. 54) by choosing people ‘willing to nod yes on command’, and all the machinations and spin that has defined Ottawa over the years, particularly in accordance with the Afghanistan report, the purchase of the F-35 fighter planes, and the economic downturn of 2008.

While at times dealing with technical and complex economic or bureaucratic issues, the book does provide anecdotes, arguments and facts (yes, facts!) in a concise and clear manner. Hence, it is an easy and fast read.

The book ends with a warning about the upcoming election on October 19, 2015. This warning can best be described by a quote from philosopher Robert Hutchins that Page cites in his epilogue which is the ‘death of democracy is not likely to be an assassination from ambush. It will be a slow extinction from apathy, indifference, and undernourishment’ (p. 199).

In other words, Page is telling voters to wake up to the state of Canada’s democracy!

Note that while mentioning the federal election, Page does not endorse anyone.

Anthony Patstone
October 8, 2015

Categories: Opinion, Politics

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