A government response praising the “transparency” of a COVID council's non-disclosure agreement (NDA) was debated and then kept, after a Liberal staffer pointed out that since another MP had already agreed to the language, the “transparent” NDA bragging should remain untouched.
COVID-19 Supply Council's “Transparency”
According to the Government of Canada's website on the COVID-19 Supply Council,
The council is in place to provide advice on the federal government’s work to build up Canada’s supply of personal protective equipment and medical supplies in response to this pandemic
In the interest of ensuring the transparency of the council’s function, and out of an abundance of caution, a member has withdrawn from the council.
Emails obtained by Rebel News show Liberal staffers debated and decided to keep the language in a letter awaiting a ministerial signature showcasing the “transparency of the council's function”.
“The response is good”, writes Madison Taipalus on June 9, 2020:
I think the response is good, lays out the dates clearly, explains we can't share info about the bidders to the RFP, and redirects questions re: Ms. [Carolyn] Bennett to her, as she was the one who resigned.
NDA? Undertaking? “An Agreement”?
Press Secretary James Fitz-Morris responds, referencing Minister Carolyn Bennett:
Tiny quibble from me with these two lines:
Supply Council members, including Ms. Bennett, were required to sign a non-disclosure agreement prior to volunteering their time for the work of the Council. These requirements are in place to ensure the transparency of the Council's function in providing the Government with advice as part of Canada's COVID-19 response and recovery.
Not sure how a non-disclosure agreement ensures transparency...
I see it being something she would poke fun at us about on Twitter.
Can we say they were required to sign “an undertaking” or even just “an agreement”?
In a follow-up defence, Fitz-Morris responded to a question from staffer Caitlin Mullan-Boudreau:
[Yes, the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs Carolyn Bennett] [stated at the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates that each member of the COVID council signed an NDA]
I'm just saying that (unless I'm missing something) NDA's are about keeping things confidential — not about enhancing transparency.
Leave The Response “As Is”
Mullan-Boudreau responded to leave the “transparency” language be, as MP Niki Ashton had already signed on to it:
Looping back on this. We've already used the exact language in our first response to MP Ashton.
James — do you still have concerns, for consistency's case I recommend we leave as is...
You can read the full exchange below.
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