Mr. Speaker, on October 22, 2007, I asked the President of the Treasury Board about the Conservative government's unwillingness to be transparent and to make public information to which Canadians are entitled.
The information commissioner came out with a report and actually talked about how the Privy Council, obviously under orders from the Prime Minister and the Conservative government, was deliberately blocking access to information requests to prevent embarrassing information from becoming public. At the time I talked about how it was the Prime Minister's own Privy Council that blocked the information, that since the Conservatives had taken power, the Conservative government under that Prime Minister has neglected, delayed and censored access to information requests.
Is it not interesting that in the past week we have learned that correspondence from Mr. Karlheinz Schreiber was written directly to the sitting Prime Minister, was sent as would normally be done, to the Privy Council and that lo and behold now we are being told that this information never got to the Prime Minister. Is that not delaying? Is that not blocking? It provides the Prime Minister with the cover of plausible deniability, that he never received this information which contained new allegations regarding a former prime minister, Brian Mulroney.
The government has now been forced to agree to have a public inquiry, a public inquiry that the opposition parties, and in particular the official opposition, has been calling for since the issue of these new allegations came to light. At that time the Prime Minister said, “No. We are going to appoint an independent adviser who will inform us and advise the government as to what measures should be taken to deal with these new allegations”.
It was only when the former prime minister, Brian Mulroney, himself said, “I want a public inquiry” that the sitting Prime Minister finally acquiesced, knuckled under, back-tracked and said that this independent adviser will not be recommending what kind of measures but instead will be recommending the terms of reference and mandate of a public inquiry because now there will be a public inquiry.
However, the Prime Minister is still refusing to provide public access to the paper trail of the letters that Mr. Karlheinz Schreiber wrote to him, not to Mr. Mulroney but to the sitting Prime Minister, the leader of the Conservative Party, last winter. They sat, according to the Prime Minister, in the Privy Council office and were never transferred over to the Prime Minister's office, nor was he ever informed of either the existence of this correspondence or of the contents which contained new allegations which have now sparked a public inquiry.
It is a clear pattern on the part of the Conservative government to block information, to deny, and only when it is caught to finally say, “Yes, but we cannot release the records”.
There is a paper trail that shows exactly who received the letter--