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NEWS: Will the Auditor-General’s report be leaked?

CBC reports, “The Canadian Press reported Monday the Conservative government allegedly misinformed Parliament to win approval for a $50-million G8 fund that lavished money on dubious projects in Conservative (Tony Clement’s Parry Sound-Muskoka) riding. A chapter of a January 13 draft report…said Auditor General Sheila Fraser suggests the process may have been illegal.”

Conservative candidate John Baird says, “We are very comfortable to ask for the report to be made public…” The article notes, “Baird…told reporters on Monday that statements such as ‘Parliament was misinformed’ do not appear in a later draft of the auditor general’s report, which he said he had seen. …But CBC News has learned that while the reference to misleading of Parliament was removed, the changes in the final report were not substantial.”

Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff says, “Mr. Harper has no choice, he has to release this report today and he has got to explain to Canadians how he could have so scandalously abused public money, and so scandalously misled Parliament and so scandalously disobeyed the law.” NDP leader Jack Layton says, “They don’t like to release information about what they do (but they must).” The CBC report also notes, “(Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles) Duceppe told reporters…he also wants the report released before the leaders’ debate…”

But Auditor General Sheila Fraser says, “Under the Auditor General Act, we can only present reports when Parliament is sitting. The Office of the Audit General of Canada remains the custodian of its reports until they are presented to the Speaker of the House of Commons for tabling.”

Robert Silver writes in the Globe and Mail, “Stephen Harper’s spokesman, Dimitri Soudas, among other Conservatives, alleges that the final report tells a very different story. If Mr. Soudas’ version of events is accurate and the report exonerates entirely the Conservative government, there is zero chance that the report will not be leaked by the Harper camp today. What, is Stephen Harper suddenly paralyzed by Parliament and its rules? Really? ‘Oh, I would really, really like to release a report that I have a copy of that exonerates me and saves my now-floundering election campaign; but damn, those rules of procedure won’t let me.’ Yes, this sounds like the Stephen Harper that we all know and love. Or the final report is bad news for Mr. Harper just like the draft report is. It doesn’t exonerate the Tory Leader at all. …The problem for Mr. Harper is if the final report is bad news for him, it is hard to see how he gets to May 2 without this issue dogging him day in, day out.”