Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Three Harper ministers under investigation by Information Commissioner

Suzanne Legault, the acting Information Commissioner has confirmed three investigations of Harper ministers are underway, including Christian Paradis, and she is not excluding the possibility of extending her investigation into the PMO if facts warrant.

Legault won't say who the other two ministers are. Could the recently disclosed delay and blacking out of NAFTAgate documents point to one of the ministries in question, i.e., Foreign Affairs? If that were the case, there have been three ministers over that time period from spring 2008 to the present, Bernier (resigned May 26, 2008), Emerson and Cannon. As for the third investigation, unclear.

Some details from the translated version:
The Information Commissioner of Canada Acting Suzanne Legault, has opened two new investigations concerning the interference of Conservative ministers in the disclosure of records under the Act for access to information learned Le Devoir. Counting Minister Christian Paradis, previously mentioned, there are now three different ministers who are under investigation "priority" by the Commissioner.
Is there any allegations of interference on the part of the entourage of ministers? "That's right," said Suzanne Legault. Besides the case of Minister Paradis, already known, the Commissioner refused to divulge the names of other ministers who are involved in the investigations. "This is not something I can disclose," she said. When investigations are completed, we will publish the results. "

Commissioner Legault classified these three investigations under the label "priority" that affects cases "that may have significant implications for Canadians." She adds that she put her best investigators on three corporate cases. "I have people experience it. I have two teams on these three issues there. The records have some interrelationship, even if they are not the same. It allows us to follow our investigation in parallel to ensure we are consistent, accurate, fair and complete our investigation, "she said.

Ms. Legault said she intends to go through with these investigations. If I conclude that serious allegations are substantiated, I will not hesitate to do the right thing, and even to refer cases to the Attorney General of Canada if it proves necessary." A prison sentence or fines can be imposed.
As for the Hill Times reporting based on anonymous Conservative sources fingering the PMO as having directed a widespread campaign of obstructing access to information, Legault leaves open the possibility of extending her inquiry to the PMO and ultimately making a separate report on that.

This is exactly the person we need to have as commissioner, someone who will say just that, that she "will not hesitate to do the right thing." To put it mildly, this government with its obvious anti-democratic tendencies needs a good dose of accountability. They are long overdue.