Houston calls for immediate release of information

July 04, 2019 at 3:28 pm

Today, Progressive Conservative leader Tim Houston called on the Liberals to stop hiding information and immediately release material that three courts have said should be public.

In a decision released today, the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal said embarrassment is the only hardship the government will suffer by disclosing the instructions former government lawyer Alex Cameron received from the Liberal government in a controversial case regarding a proposed energy project.

“It is not acceptable for the government to keep information secret simply because they don’t want to be publicly embarrassed,” Houston said. “The Liberals have hidden this information for two years already through expensive legal maneuvers. It’s time for them to do the right thing and release the instructions they gave to Mr. Cameron.”

In 2017, Cameron said he acted on instructions from the Liberal government. Premier Stephen McNeil and former Minister Diana Whalen implied that the lawyer had either acted without instructions or against instructions. The Supreme Court agreed with the lawyer and ruled that the instructions should be public.

The government appealed that decision, but the Court of Appeal also said the instructions should be public. Then the Liberals took the extraordinary step of appealing to the Supreme Court of Canada rather than doing the right thing and complying with the two rulings.

The Court of Appeal ruled today that the trial Judge’s decision in October of 2018, to release the information in Cameron’s sealed Court documents were to be upheld, despite the pending request for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada. The information is scheduled to be released on July 18, 2019.

“The Liberals have exhausted their options to keep this information secret,” Houston said. “They should not delay the release of this material another day only to postpone being embarrassed by a few more hours.”

The Liberal government often resorts to the justice system in order to keep information from Nova Scotians. The growing list of court cases is another symptom of a hyper-secretive government.

On Wednesday, June 12, after months of legal wrangling, the Liberals were told by Nova Scotia’s highest court that the provincial Ombudsman’s Office has the right to unredacted information from the government so the office can do its job on behalf of Nova Scotians.

The Progressive Conservative Caucus continues to jump hurdles to try to find out the management fee paid to Bay Ferries for the Nova Scotia-Maine Ferry. The Liberals refusal to disclose this information has forced us to the courts. The Nova Scotia Privacy Commissioner has already ruled that the Liberals should make this information public.

“This is a dismal record from a Premier who promised Nova Scotians he would lead the most open and transparent government in the country,” Houston concluded.