Musings —09.13.2019 06:24 AM—
Legal and political experts are rejecting Justin Trudeau’s statement that it is up to Canada’s top bureaucrat to decide whether to lift the veil of cabinet secrecy over the SNC-Lavalin affair, saying that waiving confidentiality is a political decision in the hands of the prime minister.
Retired judge John Gomery, who led a public inquiry into the federal sponsorship program in 2004 and 2005, said he was initially rebuffed by senior bureaucrats when he asked for access to cabinet minutes related to the national-unity initiative, which was marred by fraud and corruption. The Liberal prime minister of the day, Paul Martin, eventually over rode the senior bureaucrats and agreed to provide access to all available information.
“It is a political decision,” Mr. Gomery said in an interview.
…Yan Campagnolo, a professor of common law at the University of Ottawa, said that except in matters before the courts, the decision to release cabinet secrets is made at the political level through an order in council adopted by cabinet ministers.
“Outside the context of litigation, the only individual with the political authority to authorize the disclosure of cabinet confidences is the prime minister,” he said.
“The Prime Minister is the only person with the authority to broaden the scope of that order in council if it is deemed too narrow,” Mr. Campagnolo said.