Canada's budget watchdog says he's bracing for a David and Goliath court fight with the federal government.

Kevin Page, the Parliamentary Budget Officer, told HuffPost he will seek a reference from the Federal Court over the definition of his mandate.

UPDATE, from the Canadian Press:

Canada's budget watchdog is taking the Harper government to court over the refusal to turn over information about its austerity measures.

Parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page has filed a reference application with the Federal Court seeking a judgment affirming he has the jurisdiction to seek the information.

Page has complained for months that government departments have not been forthcoming with his requests on budget cutbacks, staff reductions and impacts on services.

In response, the government has said Page is overreaching, and that his mandate is to examine government spending, not government restraint.

"Over the last few weeks, we've been busy putting together a legal strategy ... as well as working on a legal opinion about our mandate which will be part of this reference material," Page said.

"It's a bit of a David and Goliath story: PBO is all of 15 people soaking wet, and the government is 350,000 and they have departments of justice and [the] attorney general. So we know that because we are smaller, we have to be a bit smarter and a bit more creative. But we think that what is at stake is just way too much not to try," he said.

For more than six months, Page has been requesting details from the federal government about $5.2 billion in ongoing annual savings the Conservatives say they have been able to find without damaging frontline services.

So far, however, few departments have turned over any documents that would allow Page and his team to locate the purported savings and determine what their impact on government services will be.

Conservative ministers have blocked Page's requests and suggested he has no business asking departments for that type of information.

"He wants to have a look at money that's not being spent, rather than the manner in which money is spent, which is actually his mandate," Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said last month on CTV's "Question Period."

On Tuesday, Treasury Board President Tony Clement's spokeswoman, Beverly Young, suggested Page was acting in a partisan manner and overstepping his bounds.

The statutory mandate of the Parliamentary Budget Officer is to help Parliament by providing an independent analysis of the state of the nation's finances, government estimates and trends in the national economy, Young wrote in an email.

"It is not to scrutinize or challenge government budget decisions -- this is a partisan function that the elected Opposition is here to perform, not the 'independent' PBO," she said.

Page believes he is acting within the boundaries of his mandate and has every right to request information about how the federal government plans to achieve a freeze of direct program spending for six years.

His job, Page said, is to provide MPs with the information they need to do their job. Members of Parliament are supposed to approve federal government spending plans but currently have to vote blind, the watchdog said.

"I just don't find that plausible at all, that you could freeze operational spending for six years and it is not going to have any impact," Page said. He trusts what the government tells him to a point, he said, but still wants to verify the numbers.

Liberal Senator Colin Kenny, who awarded Page a Queen's Diamond Jubilee medal on Monday for his "courageous pursuit of information" said he believes the budget officer is acting within his mandate.

"I think he is right, and I think he should just carry on. But having said that, if he is not getting the information he is asking for, then that is what we have courts for," Kenny told HuffPost.

The Conservatives created the office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer shortly after they were elected in 2006.

Like Huffington Post Canada's Ottawa Bureau Chief Althia Raj's reporter page on Facebook and follow her on Twitter for all the latest news from Parliament Hill.

Also on HuffPost:

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  • Members of the British royal family, (L-

    Members of the British royal family, (L-R) Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, Prince William and Prince Harry stand on the royal barge 'Spirit of Chartwell' during the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant on the River Thames in London on June 3, 2012. Queen Elizabeth II sailed Sunday on a royal barge at the centre of a spectacular 1,000-boat river pageant on the Thames, the set-piece of celebrations to mark her diamond jubilee. AFP PHOTO / POOL / DARREN STAPLES (Photo credit should read DARREN STAPLES/AFP/GettyImages)

  • The Royal barge, 'Spirit of Chartwell' (

    The Royal barge, 'Spirit of Chartwell' (C) carrying Britain's Queen Elizabeth II takes part in the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant in London, on June 3, 2012. Hundreds of rowing boats, barges and steamers filled the River Thames with a blaze of colour on Sunday as Queen Elizabeth II sailed through London as part of her spectacular diamond jubilee pageant. AFP PHOTO / PAUL HACKETT/POOL (Photo credit should read PAUL HACKETT/AFP/GettyImages)

  • BritBritain's Queen Elizabeth II (R), Ca

    BritBritain's Queen Elizabeth II (R), Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall (C) and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge (L) stand on the royal barge 'Spirit of Chartwell' during the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant on the River Thames in London on June 3, 2012. Queen Elizabeth II sailed Sunday on a royal barge at the centre of a spectacular 1,000-boat river pageant on the Thames, the set-piece of celebrations to mark her diamond jubilee. AFP PHOTO / POOL / MATT DUNHAM (Photo credit should read MATT DUNHAM/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Britain's Princesses Beatrice of York (R

    Britain's Princesses Beatrice of York (R) and Princess Eugenie of York wave from the boat 'Havengore' during the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant on the River Thames in London on June 3, 2012. Queen Elizabeth II sailed Sunday on a royal barge at the centre of a spectacular 1,000-boat river pageant on the Thames, the set-piece of celebrations to mark her diamond jubilee. AFP PHOTO / POOL / MATT DUNHAM (Photo credit should read MATT DUNHAM/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Princess Beatrice hugs the daughter of t

    Princess Beatrice hugs the daughter of the Earl and Countess of Wessex at the start of the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant on the River Thames in London on June 3, 2012. Queen Elizabeth II sailed Sunday on a royal barge at the centre of a spectacular 1,000-boat river pageant on the Thames, the set-piece of celebrations to mark her diamond jubilee. AFP PHOTO / POOL / LEON NEAL (Photo credit should read LEON NEAL/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Spectators line Westminster Bridge in Lo

    Spectators line Westminster Bridge in London to catch a glimpse of Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee Pageant on June 3, 2012. Hundreds of rowing boats, barges and steamers filled the River Thames with a blaze of colour on Sunday as Queen Elizabeth II sailed through London as part of her spectacular diamond jubilee pageant. AFP PHOTO / Dan Kitwood/POOL (Photo credit should read Dan Kitwood/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Princess Beatrice of York waves to spect

    Princess Beatrice of York waves to spectators from the deck of 'Havengore' during the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant on the River Thames in London on June 3, 2012. Queen Elizabeth II sailed Sunday on a royal barge at the centre of a spectacular 1,000-boat river pageant on the Thames, the set-piece of celebrations to mark her diamond jubilee. AFP PHOTO / POOL / LEON NEAL (Photo credit should read LEON NEAL/AFP/GettyImages)

  • The Queen's rowbarge 'Gloriana' travels

    The Queen's rowbarge 'Gloriana' travels ahead of the rowing boats during the Diamond Jubilee Pageant in London, on June 3, 2012. Hundreds of rowing boats, barges and steamers filled the River Thames with a blaze of colour on Sunday as Queen Elizabeth II sailed through London as part of her spectacular diamond jubilee pageant. AFP PHOTO / PAUL ELLIS (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Britain's Prince Charles, (L) and Camill

    Britain's Prince Charles, (L) and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, arrive at Chelsea Pier to take part in the Diamond Jubilee Pageant on the River Thames in London, on June 3, 2012. Hundreds of rowing boats, barges and steamers filled the River Thames with a blaze of colour on Sunday as Queen Elizabeth II sailed through London as part of her spectacular diamond jubilee pageant. AFP PHOTO / Bethany Clarke/POOL (Photo credit should read Bethany Clarke/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, is pict

    Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, is pictured aboard the Queen's Royal Barge, 'Spirit of Chartwell' during the Diamond Jubilee Pageant on the River Thames in London, on June 3, 2012. Hundreds of rowing boats, barges and steamers filled the River Thames with a blaze of colour on Sunday as Queen Elizabeth II sailed through London as part of her spectacular diamond jubilee pageant. AFP PHOTO / GLYN KIRK (Photo credit should read GLYN KIRK/AFP/GettyImages)

  • A small girl wearing Union Jack boots ge

    A small girl wearing Union Jack boots gets a glass of milk during a street party to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee in Edinburgh on June 3, 2012. Britain is celebrating the diamond jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, marking 60 years on the throne during which she has set a number of landmarks. AFP PHOTO / ANDY BUCHANAN (Photo credit should read Andy Buchanan/AFP/GettyImages)

  • A little girl cheers with a baloon durin

    A little girl cheers with a baloon during a street party to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee in Edinburgh on June 3, 2012. Britain is celebrating the diamond jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, marking 60 years on the throne during which she has set a number of landmarks. AFP PHOTO / ANDY BUCHANAN (Photo credit should read Andy Buchanan/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and Camilla

    Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, stand together on the royal barge 'Spirit of Chartwell' during the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant on the River Thames in London on June 3, 2012. Queen Elizabeth II sailed Sunday on a royal barge at the centre of a spectacular 1,000-boat river pageant on the Thames, the set-piece of celebrations to mark her diamond jubilee. AFP PHOTO / POOL / ADRIAN DENNIS (Photo credit should read ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, arrives

    Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, arrives to board the Spirit of Chartwell during the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant on the River Thames in London on June 3, 2012. Queen Elizabeth II was to sail on a ceremonial barge down the Thames at the centre of a 1,000-boat pageant to mark her diamond jubilee, although heavy rain threatened to spoil the party. AFP PHOTO / POOL / JOHN STILLWELL (Photo credit should read JOHN STILLWELL/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Members of the Royal family (from left t

    Members of the Royal family (from left to right) Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Prince William and Prince Harry talk onboard the Spirit of Chartwell during the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant on the River Thames in London on June 3, 2012. Queen Elizabeth II was to sail on a ceremonial barge down the Thames at the centre of a 1,000-boat pageant to mark her diamond jubilee, although heavy rain threatened to spoil the party. AFP PHOTO / POOL / JOHN STILLWELL (Photo credit should read JOHN STILLWELL/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, is pict

    Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, is pictured aboard the Queen's Royal Barge, 'Spirit of Chartwell' during the Diamond Jubilee Pageant on the River Thames in London, on June 3, 2012. Hundreds of rowing boats, barges and steamers filled the River Thames with a blaze of colour on Sunday as Queen Elizabeth II sailed through London as part of her spectacular diamond jubilee pageant. AFP PHOTO / JOHN STILLWELL/POOL (Photo credit should read JOHN STILLWELL/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and Pri

    Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and Prince William wave onboard the Spirit of Chartwell during the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant on the River Thames in ondon on June 3, 2012. Queen Elizabeth II was to sail on a ceremonial barge down the Thames at the centre of a 1,000-boat pageant to mark her diamond jubilee, although heavy rain threatened to spoil the party. AFP PHOTO / POOL / JOHN STILLWELL (Photo credit should read JOHN STILLWELL/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridg

    Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, walks with an umberella on the royal barge 'Spirit of Chartwell' during the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant on the River Thames in London on June 3, 2012. Queen Elizabeth II sailed Sunday on a royal barge at the centre of a spectacular 1,000-boat river pageant on the Thames, the set-piece of celebrations to mark her diamond jubilee. AFP PHOTO / POOL / DYLAN MARTINEZ (Photo credit should read DYLAN MARTINEZ/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Britain's Queen Elizabeth (front) waves

    Britain's Queen Elizabeth (front) waves next to Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge (4th R) and Princes Harry (5th L) and William (5th R) onboard the Spirit of Chartwell during the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant on the River Thames in London on June 3, 2012. Queen Elizabeth II was to sail on a ceremonial barge down the Thames at the centre of a 1,000-boat pageant to mark her diamond jubilee, although heavy rain threatened to spoil the party. AFP PHOTO / POOL / JOHN STILLWELL (Photo credit should read DYLAN MARTINEZ/AFP/GettyImages)


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  • Queen Elizabeth II and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, look on during the Diamond Jubilee carriage procession. <br> Getty photo

  • Queen Elizabeth II and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, look on during the Diamond Jubilee carriage procession. <br> Getty photo

  • Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, look on during the Diamond Jubilee carriage procession. <br> Getty photo

  • Prince William and Kate Middleton look on during the Diamond Jubilee carriage procession. <br> Getty photo

  • Prince Harry and Kate Middleton during the Diamond Jubilee carriage procession. <br> Getty photo

  • Queen Elizabeth II during the Diamond Jubilee carriage procession. <br> Getty photo

  • Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, during the Diamond Jubilee carriage procession. <br> Getty photo

  • Kate Middleton during the Diamond Jubilee carriage procession. <br> Getty photo

  • Kate Middelton and Prince William during the Diamond Jubilee carriage procession. <br> Getty photo

  • Queens Elizabeth II drives to St. Paul's Cathedral for a thanksgiving service. <br> Getty photo

  • Queens Elizabeth II drives to St. Paul's Cathedral for a thanksgiving service. <br> Getty photo

  • Queens Elizabeth II drives to St. Paul's Cathedral for a thanksgiving service. <br> Getty photo

  • Queens Elizabeth II drives to St. Paul's Cathedral for a thanksgiving service. <br> Getty photo

  • Prince William and Kate Middleton drive to St. Paul's Cathedral for a thanksgiving service. <br> Getty photo

  • Prince Harry, Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, drive to St. Paul's Cathedral for a thanksgiving service. <br> Getty photo

  • Princess Beatrice drives to St. Paul's Cathedral for a thanksgiving service. <br> Getty photo

  • Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice drive to St. Paul's Cathedral for a thanksgiving service. <br> Getty photo

  • Diamond Jubilee Marks Queen's Reign

    The Diamond Jubilee on the Thames River celebrates Queen Elizabeth II's 60th year on the throne.