Politics

Liberals agree to release some WE Charity documents

The Liberals are preparing to cede some ground on the WE Charity affair, which has been mired in filibusters and duelling committee motions for nearly two months.

Conservatives say Liberals shouldn't decide which documents are unrelated to probe

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, appear at the WE Day celebrations in Ottawa on Nov. 10, 2015. Trudeau's family ties to WE Charity plunged the student grant program into controversy this summer. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

The Liberals are preparing to cede some ground on the WE Charity affair, which has been mired in filibusters and duelling committee motions for nearly two months.

Government House leader Pablo Rodriguez says his party has agreed to send unredacted documents linked to the controversy to the parliamentary law clerk, who will then decide what information needs to be blacked out to protect personal privacy.

"We have now agreed to send unredacted documents to the law clerk, except those that were redacted to protect cabinet confidences and unrelated material as already allowed by the committee motion," reads the tweet.

The concession comes in response to a Conservative motion that calls on the Speaker of the Commons to rule that redactions made to more than 5,000 pages of government documents on the WE affair amount to a breach of the finance committee's privileges.

Rodriguez, whose Liberal colleagues on the finance committee had filibustered the motion for weeks, says in a series of tweets that civil servants will still redact information tied to cabinet confidences or unrelated material.

That proposal differs slightly from the Conservative motion, which would leave it in the law clerk's hands to black out confidential cabinet communications.

The broader controversy revolves around the government's decision in June to pay WE Charity $43.5 million to manage a grant program for student volunteers, despite the organization's close ties to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his family.

Monday's offer didn't satisfy Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre.

"Mr. Rodriguez is claiming that he can decide what's unrelated. That's the key sticking point. But if these documents that he wants to cover up are really unrelated, why were they included in the original bundle? And blacked out? " he told reporters.

"If the government insists it needs to put aside what it claims are cabinet confidences, fine. We'll do that for now. Put them aside for the moment. Let's look at every other document under the eyes of the law clerk who can review them in private and report whether or not anything further should be released. If Mr. Rodriguez has nothing to hide, if Mr. Trudeau has nothing to hide, he'll agree immediately to my offer."

With files from CBC News

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