CJFE intervening in Mike Duffy case to limit parliamentary privilege

Thursday, May 28, 2015
CJFE is participating along with CTV, The Globe and Mail and Postmedia, in seeking leave to intervene in the motion brought by Mike Duffy (returnable June 1, 2015). In particular, CJFE is intervening with respect to the Senate's claim for parliamentary privilege over an internal audit report dealing with the Senate policy on expenses of Senators, and Sen. Duffy's expense claims. We are not directly supporting either side of the Duffy case, but are rather advocating for a carefully delineated interpretation of the scope of parliamentary privilege. Essentially, our argument is to say that any determination of the scope of parliamentary privilege must include an overriding consideration of the broad public interest and the need for transparency. CJFE is participating in this process because this is a rare opportunity for the media to potentially limit the scope of the parliamentary privilege, allowing greater access to parliamentary documents in the future. Our position is different from that of the defence, and we argue that any interpretation of the scope of parliamentary privilege ought to be limited to those situations where it is necessary to allow the Senate to perform its core functions. As such, the documents over which the Senate is claiming privilege (in this case internal audit reports) must meet the necessity test. In determining the extent to which these documents meet the necessity test, the public interest in a transparent parliamentary system ought to weigh heavily in determining the contours of parliamentary privilege. Read the full Factum (PDF)

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