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Old 12-14-2011, 05:13 PM   #1
bmdbley'sBro
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Judge considers Sun request for secret evidence in Fed Conttract lawsuit



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The Ottawa Sun has asked a judge to allow public access to secret evidence of conflict of interest in the award of $1 billion in federal contracts.


The civil trial is now on hold as lawyers consider their positions.

Losing bidder Envoy Relocation Services launched a $62-million lawsuit against the federal government claiming the 2002 and 2004 bidding processes were rigged to favour winner Royal LePage Relocation Services.

Former Public Works fraud investigator Michel Genest began testifying Thursday. He’s the author of a report into conflict of interest allegations that dogged the 2002 award of federal relocation contracts and prompted the government to retender them in 2004.

Judge Peter Annis has cleared the courtroom every time other witnesses have been questioned about the report because of a publication ban requested by government lawyers and granted by another judge.

But when Genest reached the sensitive part of his testimony, the Sun opposed the order to leave.

“I think we’re going to have to stand down and reconsider this matter,” Annis said.

Envoy lawyers had consented to the ban but are taking no position on the Sun challenge.

Government lawyers are now seeking further instruction and expect to update the court on Wednesday. Unless they concede to drop the ban, the court will likely hear arguments about it in January.

The Sun has viewed a copy of the Genest report obtained under the Access to Information Act, but it is heavily censored.

This has not been unusual.


Documents pertaining to Ram Singh — a member of the 2002 bid evaluation team who also helped redraft the 2004 evaluation criteria — have emerged neutered.

Singh is a Treasury Board staffer who is also the unofficial leader of the Sai Nilayam Spiritual Organisation, a registered charity that spends little on actual charity work.


The Public Service Values and Ethics Code says public servants fundraising for charitable organizations “should ensure that they have prior authorization from their Deputy Head.”

Though this paperwork exits, an Access to Information Act request yielded only a note saying it is exempt from disclosure — even though the report is mandated by a Code that purports to “maintain and enhance public confidence in the integrity of the Public Service.”

A Treasury Board spokeswoman doubted she would even be able to release the name of the person who authorized Singh’s charitable activities — if those activities were authorized at all.


http://www.ottawasun.com/2011/12/08/...ecret-evidence
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