Inside Politics

NDP wants ethics committee to investigate Ben Perrin's reappearing emails

Sooner or later, it seems like nearly every political scandal to consume the capital eventually finds its way onto the agenda of the House ethics committee, and the ongoing controversy over that now infamous $90,000 repayment arrangement between former PMO chief of staff Nigel Wright and Senator Mike Duffy is, it seems, no exception.

New Democrat ethics critic Charlie Angus wants the committee to explore the still somewhat murky circumstances surrounding the mysterious disappearance -- and arguably even more mysterious reappearance -- of former PMO legal advisor Ben Perrin's electronic inbox.

If adopted, the NDP proposal would have the committee investigate "how government departments and ministries preserve all communications, including but not limited to emails, text messages, decisions and recommendations."

It would also extend an invitation to outgoing Information Commissioner Suzanne Legault to "discuss her recommendations on the duty to document."

At press time, Angus is scheduled to present his motion on Tuesday, when it will actually be the second Wright/Duffy-inspired proposal on the committee agenda. 

Last week, Liberal MP Scott Andrews launched his bid to call senior Deloitte partner Michael Runia and Senator Irving Gerstein to the witness stand, ostensibly to share their respective thoughts on the current conflict of interest regime.

It's safe to say that neither motion is expected to survive the vote, which means the only question will be how long the Conservative majority allows the ensuing debates to take place in public before moving that the committee go behind closed doors.

In any case, here's the full text of the Angus motion:

That, in relation to the case of public office holder Benjamin Perrin's emails in the PCO and PMO being deleted and then found, and pursuant to Standing Order 108(3)(h)(vi), the Committee undertake a study on whether government initiatives including proper protocols, legal obligations were fulfilled in this case;

That the study include how governmental departments and ministries preserve all communications including but not limited to emails, text-messages, decisions, and recommendations;

That the Committee invite the Information Commissioner to take part in the study to discuss her recommendation on a duty to document;

That the Committee invite both the PMO officials, PCO officials and President of the Treasury Board to explain governmental protocols in relation to preserving governmental communications including Benjamin Perrin's emails; and

That the Committee report its findings back to the House.

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