NOW, what’s going on at PWGSC?

Interesting little piece over at the MotherCorp about a mad dash to the department’s mailroom, a released and then “un”released report and similarities to Adscam.

In short, a ATIP request initiated by Canadian Press asked for the annual report on Public Works’ real estate portfolio, which contained data on such things as vacancy rates and returns on investment. These reports are never made public.

Initially, the Department OKed the release after the legal eagles said that there was no real reason to not release it.

The department’s real-estate branch had consented to the full release, and the Access to Information office at Public Works had determined after extensive consultation that there was no legal basis to withhold any of the report.

The file, though, was deemed “sensitive” — partly because it was a media request — and was sent to the Conservative minister’s office for review. The office initially gave the green light, but had a change of heart on the very day it was being mailed out.

Togneri insisted that only one small section of the report be released, despite the uniform view among Access to Information officials that the entire 137-page document could not be withheld under the legislation.

The copy was in the mail room when work from the Minister’s office was received that some minion had better get their sorry ass down there and get it back. I woulda hated to be that minion!

In the end, though, the department released only a heavily censored version just as Togneri had insisted — 82 days later than allowed under the law. The final release included just 30 pages.

A lawyer specializing in the Access to Information Act called the case “troubling,” saying it was unprecedented.

“This is a manifestation of political interference with the administrative processes,” Michel Drapeau said in an interview. “I’ve never in my career seen a minister basically do or tell a bureaucrat how to do his job and how to apply the law.”

I wonder how the Conservative Party’s version of Pravda , er, the National Post, is going to spin this?

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