Wednesday, March 16, 2011

More Harper Government Secrecy. Welcome to the Purple File

It would appear that Rhona Ambrose's announcement of her own government calling in the RCMP to investigate the suppression of information, was a smokescreen for what was to come.

In fact the RCMP was called in on the recommendation of the information commissioner. And we have learned that the Conservative party use something called a "purple file" to bury information they don't want released to the media.
The launch of an RCMP investigation into a Tory staffer for political interference in access to information has again exposed the secretive practice of flagging sensitive requests for scrutiny by ministerial aides. A report this week by Suzanne Legault, Canada's information commissioner, was highly critical of a so-called "purple file" process at Public Works.

An access request in 2009 from The Canadian Press was tagged sensitive, put into a purple-coloured folder, labelled "media," then handed over to Sebastien Togneri, a political aide to then-minister Christian Paradis. In face-to-face meetings with compliant bureaucrats, and in terse emails, Togneri ordered the release package withheld, then heavily censored, even though he had no legal authority to do so.
We have always suspected such a file, but this exposes the practice.
The commissioner's report laid part of the blame on a "drift" in the "purple file" process, which was set up under the Tories to alert the ministers to potentially embarrassing requests made under the Access to Information Act. At Public Works, that alert function had morphed into a political vetting machine ...
This story is coming on the heels of learning that this government is planning to hike the rates for access to information, again speaking to their secrecy.

What are they hiding?

1 comment:

  1. Yikes. I wonder whether anyone ever, in these affair, says, "hang on, guys, do you think maybe it's wrong to break the law?" I mean, you can't even set up a system like that without being fully aware that it's illegal.