Thursday, November 25, 2010

The leaks keep coming

Two items of the leak variety here...

1. This is a follow-up to yesterday's "Leakorama, again" post on the leak of a Finance Committee report on budget consultations out of Conservative MP Kelly Block's office. The leak, as far as we knew on Wednesday morning, was to three lobbyists. Well, throw a fourth lobbyist into the mix:
Mr. Paul Szabo (Mississauga South, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, yesterday, after question period, the member for Outremont rose on a question of privilege concerning the leak of the finance committee's confidential draft report on its prebudget consultations. He also reported that the leak was by Mr. Russell Ullyatt the then employee of the member for Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar.

Also, yesterday at 6:23 p.m., after the presentations on the privilege issue were made, the clerk of the committee received another email from a Mr. Andy Gibbons, who has Conservative ties and is with the lobby firm of Hill & Knowlton. Today the clerk provided that copy of the email to the hon. members of the finance committee before our meeting started.

I bring this to the attention of the House and the Speaker for consideration of the question of privilege raised yesterday. It would appear the disclosure of now a fourth person is more than has been presented to the House with regard to how broad this has gone.

It appears this has gone much further than the House has been aware. As a consequence, I submit that information for the Speaker's consideration and I ask for the unanimous consent of the House to table the email from Mr. Gibbons to the clerk of the committee, in both official languages.
Mr. Tom Lukiwski (Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I want to add my small intervention to this matter. Yes, indeed there was a fourth lobbyist, apparently, who received an email from the now terminated, former employee of the office of the member for Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar.

I would submit for your consideration, Mr. Speaker, that whether there are three or four, I think the arguments presented both for and against a breach of privilege yesterday are still germane. ...
Yes...three, four, whatever, the same argument applies says Lukiwski.

The fact that the fourth lobbyist, Andy Gibbons, is the one who contacted the clerk of the committee is not exactly providing assurance that there's a competent investigation going on here. Nor is it providing assurance that these four lobbyists represent the extent of the distribution of the report. It's unclear what investigative efforts are underway with respect to Kelly Block's office, the former staffer and this apparent drip, drip, drip situation of lobbyists who received the report. Not a good sign. Again, this is a report that could have actionable financial information in it.

2. Word from CBC last night about a possible government leak having to do with that B.C. mine development decision:
Shares in Taseko Mines Ltd. mysteriously dropped almost 40 per cent in frantic trading on Oct. 14, more than two weeks before Ottawa announced it was blocking the firm's planned development of a controversial B.C. mine.
The report notes there are at least two investigations underway. If it becomes apparent that there was a leak out of the government, the RCMP would be called in. Four ministerial offices were involved in the decision: natural resources, fisheries, environment and, of course, the PMO.

Not a good week on the leak front for the government.