Rights and Democracy: Time keeps on slippin’…

PAUL WELLS checks in on the audit situation

Last week I decided to check in on the Deloitte forensic audit of Rights and Democracy, which the agency’s interim president announced in February and expected to receive three weeks later. In May the new president expected to make it public in June. In July he said it wouldn’t be available before the end of the summer. (The electronic trail of all of this can be found by clicking on the “Rights and Democracy” tag at the bottom of this blog post.)

I wrote to the communications people for Rights and Democracy:

It has now been just over a month since I last inquired about the Deloitte audit of Rights and Democracy. I am writing today with some further inquiries, which I hope you’ll pass along to Mr. Latulippe or anyone who can answer them.

1. Has Deloitte delivered the audit?

2. If so, when was it delivered?

3. If it has been delivered, when will it be released to the public and/or the Commons committee on foreign affairs?

4. In the interest of transparency and accountability, please account for any delay between Rights and Democracy’s receipt of the audit and its release to parliamentarians and the public.

5. If Deloitte has not yet delivered the audit, do you know when it will?

Thanks once again for all your help.


Paul Wells

This morning I received a reply from Gérard Latulippe directly. Here it is in its entirety:

Dear Mr Wells;

I received your email query .

In response to your question as to whether Deloitte has delivered the audit, I am pleased to tell you that I just received the final report. I am sending it to Rights & Democracy’s lawyers to obtain a legal opinion on the report’s contents. It will also have to be translated, as per Rights & Democracy’s Official Languages obligations.

Once the legal consultation and translation are complete, the report will be given to the members of Rights & Democracy’s Board of Directors for discussion .

As to the audit report’s distribution, it is for Rights & Democracy’s Board of Directors to take the decision. In that regard, the only information I can provide at this stage is that the next scheduled meeting of the Board is October 25, 2010.

Please feel free to contact me if you need any further clarifications.

Yours truly,

Gérard Latulippe

Président, Droits et Démocratie – Rights & Democracy

I wrote back, asking whether I understood correctly: Will the Deloitte report not be sent to the Foreign Affairs minister or the Commons foreign-affairs committee before the board meets in late October? Latulippe replied:

It is not clear for me at this point. It will be for the board to decide if they want a special meeting before the October board meeting which [would] involve a special procedure and cost.

I don’t know about all of you, but I’m torn. On one hand, it’s starting to be a while since the new board majority at R&D took it into its head to order up a forensic audit, with the promise that it would cast a proper light on the financial mismanagement that Aurel Braun and his lot had spent months cavalierly alleging. There was, back then, a tone of urgency to the whole project. Results would be made public “as soon as possible” after the board accepted the report, Jacques Gauthier, who still sits on the board, promised. That promise permits, but did not really imply, a two-month delay for the board to accept the report, more than five months after Deloitte blew the original three-week timeline.

On the other hand, one is reluctant to urge the R&D board to get the lead out, since it would “involve a special…cost.” This late-breaking concern for special costs can only be lauded, given that the last time anyone checked, two months ago, the new board majority’s ingenious and breathtaking list of “special procedures” had already blown half a million taxpayer dollars. All of this because Aurel Braun didn’t like expenditures amounting to less than one-twentieth that amount when R&D staff briefed him on his arrival.

So hurry up, take your time, whatever. All I can say, at the risk of repeating, is that I will not ever let this story go until the R&D board coughs up the financial transparency they promised, so many months and so much taxpayer money ago.

Some people, many of them friends of the Harper government who used to like to write about how Aurel Braun and the rest of the cavalry were finally going to set things right at the agency, have lately taken to wondering, with exhausted exasperation and amusement, why I keep at it. The answer is simple. Rémy Beauregard died while he was, by every account, well on the path to cleaning up R&D’s administration and making it an effective global advocate for the human rights all Canadians cherish. Aurel Braun and the gang were already well along in a concerted campaign to smear Beauregard’s name and they did not let his death stop them. Very well then. They will provide proof of their claims, or bear the responsibility such shocking and profligate behaviour deserves.