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View Don Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
Mr. Chair, I think there have been some points made on both sides of this. I have noted the pattern where generally opposition wants more disclosure and government seeks to limit disclosure, and I see that pattern repeating itself here today.
I'm going to support the amendment only because if the disclosure of information that we get is not sufficient, I think it's open to Mr. Kitchen or Mr. Paul-Hus to move another motion requesting the emails. I don't find it persuasive to.... This is the second or third time I've heard the government side argue that it's too onerous to provide emails. Disclosure and accountability are foundational concepts, and I believe Mr. Trudeau has famously said that his government should be “transparent by default”. That's what he told the Canadian public.
Just because it's difficult or just because it's onerous to get emails, that's not a sufficient reason to override the need for transparency. I also think that with emails what's behind my Conservative colleague's motion is that there's a degree of frankness, granularity and detail that is usually found in emails that is not found in other documents. In supporting this motion to move this meeting forward, that in no way doesn't mean I don't think the emails are a valid source of information, and we could be pursuing those later on.
I do want to comment, and ask the clerk to comment, on redaction. When this committee passed a motion before for disclosure from the government, in my opinion, we had illegitimate and, frankly, I thought unjustifiable redactions by the government. I want to make sure that the documents being sought here come in unredacted form, and that it's the clerk of this committee who will determine if anything ought to be redacted or not.
Last time, I think the privileges of these committee members, of us, were violated when we received documents that someone else, prior to sending them to us, had redacted for all sorts of reasons, many of which were way beyond the grounds that are normally given for redaction. If we're going to hold the government to account—and I think it's a good motion on behalf of my colleague to do so, particularly when the border is affecting so many Canadians in so many ways, both on an economic and a personal level—then I want this committee to get the unvarnished information we seek. I want to be very clear that I'll be looking for documents that are not sanitized to protect the government's political interests like they were last time.
Finally, I want to say that I don't find emails to be that difficult to get. There are search functions that exist in our computers, such that if a particular individual were asked to provide all emails that bore on the subject of border controls, I would point out to Mr. Van Bynen that it's a simple matter to use search functions to produce those documents. In fact, because emails are, by definition, stored on computers, it's actually very quick and easy to produce documents by email, so that is not an argument that I find persuasive.
To move this forward, I think we should have the vote on this. I'll support Monsieur Thériault's amendment to remove emails at this point, on the proviso that I reserve the right to pursue those emails later on if we find that the documents that are produced to the committee are not sufficient for the purposes of my Conservative colleagues.
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