It’s not quite Watergate, but . . .

Government withholds, edits tapes from Commons committee

The Public Accounts committee may be heading for a showdown with Public Works after the department refused to comply with a request to hand over complete, unedited audio recordings of a series of group consultations with private suppliers on a new IT procurement system that could dole out as much as $80 billion over the next twenty years. The Ottawa Citizen reports that for months, the committee has been demanding that the department turn over the contents of tapes, but have been frustrated by balky bureaucrats, who have cited everything from transcription costs to privacy concerns for their footdragging. Late last month, the committee finally got its hands on some of the material, only to discover that it had been edited to remove what the department claims was personal information on participants who didn’t consent to the release—and, of the 18 tapes requested, six were withheld completely. Committee chair Shawn Murphy is vowing to keep up the fight, which he calls “a matter of principle”, over this deliberate attempt to flout the power of parliamentary committee to subpoena evidence.””We asked those tapes be produced and, after all the excuses, Public Works finally produced them—but they were reduced and given to MPs altered and (portions) deleted. We are demanding those tapes in unaltered form.”

Ottawa Citizen

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