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Obstruction at Justice (National Post)

National Post
July 28, 2001

 Obstruction at Justice


Justice Ministry officials briefed the media about a major bill last April, hours before they bothered to tell Members of Parliament. This breach of protocol was seen by many MPs as tantamount to contempt of Parliament. Anne McLellan, the Justice Minister, apologized and said she had "learned a valuable lesson." But has she? A vitriolic debate on the National Post's letters page between the Minister, one of her bureaucrats and fellow Liberals suggests that April's lapse may have been part of a larger pattern of behaviour.

Senator Anne Cools and MP Roger Gallaway, both Liberals, objected to a letter from one of Ms. McLellan's officials about consultations being conducted by civil servants on questions of custody and access to children in divorce cases. They say the consultations have been a "mimic of Parliament," that bureaucrats are improperly making political decisions, and that, as we argued here on July 19, the consultations have been a sham -- with no records kept, the minister and all other elected representatives absent, and so on and so forth. Ms. McLellan riposted a week ago that that she was committed to "positive outcomes for children and their families following a separation or divorce," and asserted that the officials were "acting under my direction." This, in turn, sparked a further rebuke from Sen. Cools and Mr. Gallaway.