Inside Politics

UPDATED - Liberals rebuff NDP call for patriation papers

NDP MP Francoise Boivin is calling on her fellow justice critics -- and even the justice minister himself -- to back her party's campaign for full disclosure of documents that could shed light on Quebec historian Frederic Bastien's incendiary claim that two former Supreme Court justices kept British and Canadian officials in the loop on the progress of the court's closed-door deliberations on the patriation of the Canadian constitution.

In her letter, copies of which were sent to Liberal and Bloc Quebecois justice critics Irwin Cotler and Maria Mourani, as well as Green Party Leader Elizabeth May and Justice Minister Rob Nicholson, Boivin notes that the Supreme Court "limited its review to the content of its own records without seeking to obtain documents from other sources to ascertain whether there was indeed inappropriate communication between one or more of its members and the Executive Branch of the Canadian and/or British governments."

Citing the resolution passed by the Quebec National Assembly "supported by all parties, both federalist and sovereignist," Boivin asks her colleagues to consider giving unanimous consent for a motion in support of "the publication of all available documents relevant to the issue."

As yet, it's not clear whether any of the recipients have responded to her invitation. 

UPDATE: Courtesy of Stephane Dion, the Liberal Party response -- an emphatic 'Non', with bonus criticism of party leader Tom Mulcair for acting "irresponsibly" on three separate fronts by "attempting to politicize the application of an act ... criticizing the Supreme Court without foundation and ... playing the game of separatist leaders." 

Madam Member,

On behalf of the Liberal caucus, thank you for your letter dated April 29, 2013. 

In your letter, you suggested that the Liberal caucus join the New Democratic Party in asking the Conservative government what its response will be to the motion passed by the Quebec National Assembly on April 16, 2013.

This motion calls for the federal government to release archived documents related to the constitutional negotiations which led to the patriation of the Constitution in 1982.

However, the federal government has already stated that it does not intend to give policy directives to civil servants responsible for the application of the Access to Information Act.

We would like the government to hold firm in this respect. The Conservatives already have a tendency to politicize everything; there is no need to encourage them in this bad habit. The last thing we should do is politicize the application of the Access to Information Act.

We believe this act should be strengthened; however, this should be done as part of a global legislative review and not in response to one specific request for information.

In your letter, you criticize the Supreme Court. Your leader, Mr. Mulcair, took things one step further by accusing the Supreme Court of never having had the intention to seriously investigate the allegations of inappropriate communications between judges and members of the executive branch in 1981.

We are distancing ourselves from these irresponsible and unfounded comments. There is no doubt in our minds that the Supreme Court investigated as it should.

We suggest that you leave history to historians. But, let's not be naïve: separatist leaders have a vested interest in reinforcing the idea of a scheme in the minds of Quebeckers in order to undermine their confidence in the Supreme Court, in Canada and in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

To summarize, your leader has demonstrated irresponsibility on three fronts by attempting to politicize the application of an act, by criticizing the Supreme Court without foundation and by playing the game of separatist leaders.

If the NDP wants to play that game, it will have to play it with the Bloc alone once again.


Hon. Stéphane Dion, MP

Liberal Democratic Reform and Intergovernmental Affairs critic

The full text of Boivin's letters: 

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