The Liberal government is delaying my investigation into Gerald Butts' new employer, Eurasia Group, until after the election.
Back in August, I broke the story that Gerald Butts' new bosses at the New York based consulting firm, Eurasia Group, received a sole-source $200,000 federal government contract shortly after he joined the company.
After we broke the news, Butts started threatening lawsuits on Twitter -specifically one directed at Alberta-based entrepreneur Brett Wilson - for daring to share the story. Eurasia Group also send an email to me demanding that I retract my story, without ever telling me what they felt was wrong with the story and while simultaneously tipping me off to a previous contract they had received from the Feds!
I sent Eurasia group a series of questions asking who they had spoken to or lobbied in the federal government, and when their contractual relationship began with any agency of the Canadian government.
I never heard back from them. So I set about trying to get answers another way.
I asked the Federal government for records of communication (emails, texts and instant messages) with Eurasia Group regarding their work for the department, plus any communications for the previous contract Eurasia Group had since 2017 — including communications mentioning or including Mr. Gerald Butts.
However, and probably predictably, the federal government has now taken an exemption of 60 days instead of the statutory 30 days to provide this information to me. As in: I won't have this information until after the federal election!
But I did learn something very interesting. The response from the Office of the Information Commissioner completely contradicts Eurasia Group's original contention that Gerald Butts wasn't involved in anything.
The government offered this explanation for the extended timeline:
"Consultations necessary to comply with the request cannot be reasonably completed within the original time limit. In addition, we are taking an exemption under 9(1)(c) of the information act to complete a third-party consultation.”
What third party does the government need to consult before releasing he information? Eurasia group, sure, and who else? I suspect it in the only other third party named in our inquiry: Gerald Butts. If he had contact with the government about Eurasia Group after he left the PMO, then he would be considered a third party needing consultation, and not a government employee subject to access to information laws.
Unfortunately, we will have to wait another 60 days to find out exactly what or who this very convenient road block was.