Parliament's budget officer moonlights as hockey coach

Kevin Page has fought some battles with the federal government over spending, but his favourite place is behind the Nepean Raiders' bench, leading the peewee hockey team to victory.
Parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page in the dressing room of the Nepean Raiders peewee hockey team, which he coaches in his free time. (CBC)

Most Canadians know Kevin Page as Parliament's budget watchdog, but to players on the Nepean Raiders peewee hockey team, he's their coach.

While Page isn't afraid to lock horns with the federal government over its spending — keeping tabs on public service cuts or high-profile projects like the purchase of F-35 fighter planes — leading his young players from behind the bench is what really makes Page tick.

"You can hardly wait to get here," Page said of coming to the rink. "Particularly during practices when you're out fooling around with the kids, on the ice coaching, instructing — you're not thinking at all about work. You're just watching the kids faces, they have big smiles on their faces."

Asked what their coach does when he's not behind the bench, one player guessed a "spy who works at a spy agency" and another thought Page worked at CBC "because he's in the newspaper."

When they talk about "Coach Page," his encouragement to play hard and never give up are what has made an impression on them.

What's impressed hockey dad David Sharpley is Page's dedication to the Raiders and the team's players.

"It's actually quite remarkable when you think about having such a high-profile position and taking the time to be a coach and not have a kid on the team," Sharpley said.

Team manager Dawn Demers said Page is not only a great coach, but a role model to his young players.

"They love him," Demers said. "Whatever he says to them, they look up to him. They stop, they listen and they do it."

As Page's clash with the federal government for more information on $5.2 billion in budget cuts will be settled in court, the Nepean Raiders coach would likely welcome the same co-operation from elected officials as he gets from his players.

But at the rink, the stress of his day job washes away and the Raiders and its players become Page's number 1 priority.

"Once you get addicted to the kids, they give you energy," Page said of coaching. "So you give energy, but they give you energy back ... it's a nice hobby."

The Raiders are playing in the Bell Capital Cup this weekend in Ottawa.