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PACP Committee Report

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Government Response to the Second Report of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts entitled "Legal Fees of Public Servants who have been Called to Testify"

Introduction

On Tuesday, April 20, 2004, the Standing Committee on Public Accounts adopted a motion recommending that the Government pay for the legal fees of public servants who have been called to testify. This was made in relation to the Committee’s study of Chapters 3, 4 and 5 of the November 2003 Report of the Auditor General of Canada.

Response to the Recommendation of the Standing Committee’s Report

The Government agrees with the principle that officials who are called before the Standing Committee on Public Accounts should be eligible to receive legal assistance without costs to themselves. The Government can assure the Committee that mechanisms already exist to address their concern. The Policy on the Indemnification of and Legal Assistance for Crown Servants, Section 7.2 (a) states that Deputy Heads have the authority to approve indemnification and the provision of legal assistance that is provided by the Department of Justice Canada or private counsel. Further, Section 7.3 (c) allows for the Department of Justice Canada to determine if there is a conflict of interest and the servant may be authorized to engage private counsel or seek other legal assistance.

This assistance includes any cases where public servants may be required to appear to give evidence before a Parliamentary Committee as clarified in Section D, amended July 2004. As further assurance to Committee members, following tabling of the response, the Public Service Human Resources Management Agency of Canada will ensure all Deputy Heads are advised of the Government’s response by way of written notification.