rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

PMO/PCO dodging ATI request for number of times Ethics Commissioner has contacted them since 2007

Please chip in to support more articles like this. Support rabble.ca for as little as $5 per month!

OTTAWA – Today, Democracy Watch released the response from the Prime Minister’s Office/Privy Council Office that dodges and delays responding to the Access to Information Act request for the number of times federal Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson has contacted the PMO/PCO since beginning her job in July 2007. Democracy Watch also released the complaint it filed with the Information Commissioner about this unjustifiable delay, and called for clear changes to ensure effective ethics rules and enforcement in Canada.

Democracy Watch filed the request on March 29, 2013 but in its response the PCO/PMO give themselves a 180-day extension, claiming they have to consult “a few” other government institutions. Democracy Watch has filed a complaint with the Information Commissioner about this unjustifiable delay given that its request was only about contact between the Ethics Commissioner and the PMO/PCO, and given that modern technology and the simplicity of the request made the request easy to fulfill within the required 30 days.

More than 79,000 messages have been sent through Democracy Watch’s letter-writing campaign to key politicians across Canada, including to MPs on the House of Commons Ethics Committee who are reviewing the federal Conflict of Interest Act right now -- all calling for key changes to ensure strong ethics rules, and independent, effective enforcement.

“This was a very simple request asking only for the number of times the Ethics Commissioner has contacted the PMO or PCO since 2007, so the fact they are dodging the request combined with the Ethics Commissioner’s terrible enforcement record raises alarm bells about whether the Ethics Commissioner is operating independently from Cabinet,” said Tyler Sommers, Coordinator of Democracy Watch.  “With the ongoing Nigel Wright ethics case the government should be providing Canadians with as much information as possible about ethics enforcement, not using delay tactics to keep this information secret.”

Democracy Watch has repeatedly raised concerns about the Ethics Commissioner’s weak enforcement record which includes letting dozens of Conservatives off the hook for clear violations, and rejecting at least 80 complaints without issuing public rulings.

Democracy Watch has also called for an immediate ruling from the Ethics Commissioner based on its belief that the evidence available makes it clear that the Prime Minister’s former Chief of Staff Nigel Wright violated the Conflict of Interest Act when he gave $90,000 to Senator Mike Duffy, and has explained why a public inquiry into this and other current scandalous Senate situations will unfortunately likely be needed because cover-ups by various watchdogs are likely.

Democracy Watch will continue to push the PMO/PCO to disclose details about its contact with the federal Ethics Commissioner since 2007, and along with the Government Ethics Coalition will continue its Government Ethics Campaign until key changes are made to ensure effective federal ethics rules and enforcement.

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.


We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:


  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.


  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.