Inside Politics

Liberal MP warns Tories not to interfere with Senate expense info request

A week after his leader turned to the Order Paper in an attempt to glean addition details of the now infamous repayment deal between former PMO Chief of Staff Nigel Wright and former Conservative still Senator Mike Duffy, Liberal MP Ralph Goodale has filed similar queries under the access to information regime -- and issued a stern warning to the government to ensure no political interference ensues in the fulfillment of those requests. 

From the release announcing the ATI filings:

"It is simply inconceivable, that once the PCO and the Department of Justice learned that this unethical and potentially illegal transaction took place on behalf of the Prime Minister and involving his highest official, they would not have taken steps to immediately secure copies of all of the documentation," said Mr. Goodale.

"These documents must be preserved and made public according to provisions of the Access to Information Act. There must be no political interference with the release of this information, something that sadly we have seen time and time again with this government."

Mr. Goodale noted that it is unlawful for anyone to destroy or remove documents from the Prime Minister's Office, if they relate to a government matter or the abuse of taxpayer's money, as is the case with the current scandal.

According to the requests filed with the Privy Council Office/Prime Minister's Office and the Department of Justice, Goodale is seeking:

All records ... related to Senator Mike Duffy's and Senator Pamela Wallin's expenses (excluding public media reports), including all records related to the Senate audit of their expenses, including but not limited to:

-Any records concerning the understanding or agreement between Senator Mike Duffy and Nigel Wright (or their agents) regarding Senator Duffy's expenses;

-A copy of the email of the February 20, 2013 written by Senator Mike Duffy;

-All emails, correspondence and other records from or two Benjamin Perrin relating to the arrangement between Nigel Wright and Mike Duffy;

-All emails, correspondence and other records from or two Nigel Wright relating to the arrangement between Nigel Wright and Senator Mike Duffy.

Although the deadline under the access law is more generous than the 45 days allotted for written queries like the one tabled by Justin Trudeau earlier this month, it does have one potentially critical advantage over the parliamentary question system: unlike the Order Paper, it isn't wiped clean by prorogation.

Given the likelihood that the PM will hit the reset button at some point between now and the scheduled fall sitting, Goodale's fact-finding mission may ultimately prove to be the more fruitful of the two. Then again, one suspects he'd be willing to share whatever he gets back in response -- not only with his leader and caucus, but with the rest of the Canadian public as well. 

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