The Harper government has delayed for months the release of notes on conference calls held at the height of last summer's deadly listeriosis outbreak — a lag some experts say breaks Ottawa's own information laws.It's stretching, it's hypocritical in light of production of handwritten notes by Agriculture Canada, as noted in the article, and it's the unaccountable, secretive Harper government at work.
At issue is an Access to Information request by The Canadian Press to the Privy Council Office for “all transcripts and minutes” of the crucial exchanges last August and September.
Officials were grappling at the time with a health crisis that sparked intense scrutiny of the national food safety system.
Twenty Canadians died after developing listeriosis, an outbreak that was traced to meat-processing equipment at a Maple Leaf Foods plant in Toronto.
Privy Council officials at first said they had records as requested, but needed four months “to consult other government institutions” about them.
Then Ann Wesch, the access to information director for PCO, wrote a letter dated Feb. 10 stating that in fact “the records retrieved do not fall under the scope of this request. Therefore we have no records relevant to your request.”
The explanation for the flip-flop? Records retrieved were handwritten notes — not minutes or transcripts, said the PCO analyst questioned about the response.
This, despite the fact that the word transcribe is in part defined in the Canadian Oxford Dictionary as “make a copy of, esp. in writing . . . write out (shorthand, notes, etc.) . . . .” (emphasis added)
So...they won't produce them to the press, wonder if their listeriosis investigator with no subpoena power will have any luck either?