Rights and Democracy: So everyone agrees! And there’s no problem! Right?

Over at the CBC, our their Kady O’Malley points out that Parliamentary privilege being what it is — powerful — “none” of the exemptions claimed by the industrious board of Rights and Democracy “are remotely relevant” to the Foreign Affairs Committee’s request for the Deloitte forensic audit.

You know what’s kind of cool? What’s kind of cool is that, nearly a year into my coverage of the mess at R&D, there are thousands of people in this country who actually understand what I’m talking about in the first paragraph above. For those who need a refresher, start with my next-most-recent post and then start at the beginning by clicking the “Rights and Democracy” tag at the bottom of this post.

Anyway. What this means is (a) the committee has asked for the audit; (b) the R&D board has made an elaborate show of voting to release the audit to the committee — subject to a comically elaborate list of conditions — contractual confidentiality, solicitor-client privilege, privacy concerns, the Official Secrets Act — which are (c) perfectly irrelevant to any serious consideration of whether the audit can be released, for reasons Kady explains. Well, one item on the list would be relevant if it were germane: “Confidences of the Privy Council.” The problem is that the Deloitte audit is an investigation into the ordinary financial transactions of a quasi-NGO during a period, the years 2005 to 2009, when it was not the subject of any public controversy. There can be no Privy Council confidences in such transactions.

So the confidentiality emperor is, to mix up a metaphor, buck naked. Rights and Democracy must release the audit.

Now here’s the interesting thing. Nobody on earth claims to want to keep the audit from being released.

This includes the R&D board, whose interim president Jacques Gauthier said in February, “Results will be made public as soon as possible after the report is accepted by the board of directors.” The board voted to release the report on Oct. 25. So there’s no problem: the board wants the audit released.

So does the government. Three days after Gauthier said he was ordering the audit so he could release the audit, Lawrence Cannon allowed as how this was an excellent idea. He did not put his own weight behind the plan — get an audit, release the audit. He put all of his colleagues’ weight behind it. “I would also like to express the Government of Canada’s support for the decision made by the Board of Directors to engage a private firm to conduct a forensic audit of the organization’s financial transactions, as announced last Friday,” he wrote on Feb. 22. “As announced last Friday” has no meaning unless it includes the announced plan to make the audit public. And indeed, Minister Cannon still believed that having an audit meant releasing the audit as late as Oct. 28, three weeks ago, when he said in the House, “My understanding is that the board of directors has come to a decision and is ready to make it public.”

And finally, Stéphane Bourgon, the two-time former Conservative candidate who now acts as Rights and Democracy’s communications guy, told Le Devoir a month ago, “As soon as the Foreign Affairs committee asks for [the audit], we will send it to them.”

The committee has asked. It asked in April. It is still asking. Aurel Braun and Jacques Gauthier and Marco Navarro-Génie and Stéphane Bourgon and the rest have had a truly excellent time playing silly bugger for yet another month while they burn through taxpayer money at a rate Rights and Democracy has never seen in its history.

It is time, at last, for this pathetic gong show to come to an end.

I need to believe Lawrence Cannon is not just another liar. If he has a good name, he has hitched it, at the beginning of the year and again at the end, to a promise to release a report whose contractors claim to want to release it.

It is now time to deliver.


SERENDIPITY HAS A SCHEDULING ASSISTANT UPDATE: And who is scheduled to testify about women’s rights in Afghanistan today, between 5 and 6 p.m., to the Senate committee on human rights, in room 257 East Block? Why, that would be Gérard Latulippe, President of Rights and Democracy. Gee, do you suppose he’ll scrum?