The Rebel gets results! The Prime Minister’s top bureaucrats in the Privy Council Office were just slammed by the Information Commissioner for withholding information from us.
Over the course of the last 4 years, we have been asking for expense documents for Justin Trudeau’s best buddy and former principal secretary in the Prime Minister’s office, Gerald Butts. The requests were nearly always blocked because we were asking for information the Privy Council Office determined to be “personal information”. Often after a series of appeals, we would get just a sliver of the information we knew existed.
And it looks like now, the Information Commish has had enough of partisan bureaucrats in Trudeau's inner circle abusing the records retention rules to protect Trudeau’s closest confidant from public scrutiny in a scathing finding based on an investigation prompted by our ongoing complaints.
Commissioner Caroline Maynard wrote in her decision:
“PUBLICLY AVAILABLE INFORMATION ON EXEMPT STAFF TRAVEL SHOULD BE DISCLOSED.
“We investigated eight complaints about the decision by the Privy Council Office (PCO) to refuse to disclose travel expenses for members of the Prime Minister’s staff who are not part of the regular public service (known as “exempt staff”). PCO claimed that the records constituted personal information.
“Some of the information in one of the complaints did not meet the definition of “personal information” in the Privacy Act (based on which institutions may withhold information).
“The Commissioner determined that these eight complaints were well founded. She wrote to the Prime Minister and formally recommended that he direct the PCO to disclose the information that she considered not to be personal information. She also recommended that PCO reconsider whether it could disclose any publicly available personal information.
“Despite having been granted an extension, the Prime Minister did not respond to the Commissioner’s recommendations. Consequently, we concluded all eight complaints were well-founded, but not resolved, and closed them without the benefit of a response. As a result, the complainant did not receive the information the Commissioner recommended PCO release.”
Trudeau thinks the rules don’t apply to him, but the Info Commissioner just rapped his knuckles to remind him that they do.
But this isn't the first time that the Rebel has gotten these sorts of results.
Back in 2016 in 2017, we uncovered a Liberal partisan working in the public service who was using his government time to do partisan organizing on behalf of the Ontario Liberals.
As Andrew Lawton reported at the time, the man, from his government email address, was receiving partisan materials from the Ontario Liberals. He even helped organize a riding association annual general meeting on his government email in the middle of a workday. That investigation, and the attempted deleted email cover-up after the fact, prompted the Info Commissioner to refer the whole mess to the Attorney General for a further criminal investigation.
Trudeau’s government thinks that handing out cash to failing media companies amounts to supporting the free press while the same government continues to block journalists and stymie access requests when they think no one is watching.
Journalism means holding the government to account for this, and everything else they think they can get away with when those tasked with watching have been bailed-out into silence.
Everything else is just repeating and not reporting.