In a sense, we heard conflicting testimony over order-making powers, or the interpretation of orders that are certifiable. I believe it was Minister Brison who suggested that all was well and that the powers were sufficient, but I'll again refer to the testimony of our hard-working Information Commissioner, Madame Legault, on November 1. I think she was answering a question by Mr. Saini, who asked about this issue.
She said that was not her interpretation of the bill as currently drafted. Essentially, if the government institution sat on the order and did not provide disclosure when ordered, she would have to take a mandamus application in the Federal Court, which is part of the Federal Court legislation. However, her concern was that mandamus applications usually take around 18 months, and that's why she was recommending that there be an added provision that the Information Commissioner be allowed to get the order certified in the Federal Court. Her general counsel advised that those contempt of court proceedings usually take four months.
In the issuing of an order and directing a department to come forward with information that's deemed to be vital and does not infringe on the privacy of Canadians, we have learned through testimony from the various groups—first nations groups, civil society, and journalists—that if information is delayed, information is denied. The simple carrying forward and adding of months and sometimes years to the process, for some issues in particular, means that the public is never given satisfaction. Essentially, the issue has now moved on. We're so many years beyond this.
The amendment that we propose in NDP-24 would follow the advice of the Information Commissioner to be explicit, so that there's no interpretive wiggle room and it's simply the ability of the commissioner to turn to the Federal Court. Again, from her counsel's observation, this would be in the four-month range of delay, which is still a delay but not a year and a half or more.
I'm thinking of some of the information examples we have been given, from residential schools and missing and murdered women to sexual harassment in the government and Ms. Doolittle's work at The Globe and Mail. That part of the effort in revealing these important issues—some of which the government has acted on, by the way, in terms of their recent legislation yesterday on the murdered and missing inquiry—is based on evidence that was gained from access to information. In many cases, it was delayed significantly because of this back and forth with the Federal Court.
All this does is clearly give the Information Commissioner the tool that the minister, frankly, said she already has, but the evidence is borne out differently in terms of this notion—not being a lawyer, I'm trying to be careful here—of mandamus applications and the delay that seems to have been created.