The department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada says no rules were broken when the hard copies of former cabinet minister Jim Prentice's expense records were destroyed.
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Earlier this year, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) made a freedom of information request for expense records during Prentice's time with the ministry.
The organization was upset when it was told the receipts were destroyed, but the department did say the information about how much was spent was still available.
"The amount that was reimbursed remains public on the proactive disclosure section of the relevant departmental website," said a government spokesperson in an email.
CBC's request for information went unanswered Monday, but the department now says financial records — such as receipts, vouchers, invoices and claims — are only retained for six years.
The timeline is set by Library and Archives Canada and the rules are published on its website.
But CTF wanted the actual receipts, instead of the total cost, to see if Prentice was "putting his money where his mouth is."
The organization believes the receipts should not have been destroyed under the National Archives of Canada Act.
But aboriginal affairs says that is not how the process works.
"Under the rules, travel and hospitality claims are reviewed prior to reimbursements being issued," said a government spokesperson.
"Following reimbursement, travel and hospitality expenses for ministers are proactively disclosed to Canadians, and the expenses for former minister Jim Prentice are available on the Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development website."
Prentice, who refused to carry a government credit card when he was a minister, says he has been out of government for four years and left the aboriginal affairs portfolio in 2007.
He says he has no control over how the government in Ottawa manages records.
Prentice, a former Calgary MP, is running for the leadership of Alberta's Progressive Conservative (PC) Party.
If he becomes leader of the PC party, Prentice says he will advocate for the Alberta government to keep ministers' receipts for as long as possible.
Calgary MLA Ric McIver and Edmonton MLA Thomas Lukaszuk are also vying to replace Alison Redford as party leader. Redford stepped down as premier and leader in March.
Dave Hancock has been serving as the interim premier for Alberta until the party holds its leadership vote in September.