Conservatives were apologizing in every direction Tuesday afternoon, after revealing a staff member for Tory MP Kelly Block leaked a secret Finance committee report to three lobbyists.
The trio were emailed a copy of the committee's draft report on budget consultations last week by a member of Ms. Block's office.
"I am sincerely sorry for the leak of the report," the MP told the House of Commons. When she became aware of the leak last Thursday, she said, she fired the staffer and contacted members of the committee to apologize.
The committee's report on pre-budget consultation was sent by the former staffer to Clarke Cross, of the lobbying firm Tactix; Tim Egan, head of the Canadian Gas Association; and Lynne Hamilton of the consulting firm GCI Group.
While accepting the apology, Liberal Finance critic Scott Brison criticized the government for not moving quickly to retrieve the report. And he said the leak revealed the "real coziness" between the Conservatives and Ottawa lobbyists.
The opposition parties asked Peter Milliken, Speaker of the House, to rule on whether parliamentary privilege was breached so that a House committee can further study the issue.
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty told reporters earlier in the day that he hasn't seen the report, but was concerned about the leak as the MPs should have first crack at the study's contents.
It must be added that reports by Parliamentary committees, which are dominated by the opposition in minority Parliaments, tend not to be chock-a-block with highly sensitive data.
But with the opposition working overtime to paint the Conservatives as being in the pocket of big business and special interests, this embarrassment is the last thing the government needs.
With a report from The Canadian Press