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Human Resources Minister Diane Finley speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Sept. 18, 2012. Ms. Finley has been ordered by a federal judge to ‘further consider’ her compliance in the HD Mining case.

CHRIS WATTIE/Reuters

A federal judge has ordered Human Resources Minister Diane Finley to "further consider the scope and nature of her compliance" with an earlier court order in a legal wrangle over temporary foreign workers at a B.C. coal project.

In a Jan. 15 decision, Justice Michael Manson gave the minister until Jan. 21 to determine whether she would take further action to force Vancouver-based HD Mining to turn over documents in the case.

The order follows one in December, when a different judge ordered Minister Finley to produce certain documents, including Labour Market Opinion application forms submitted by HD Mining.

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Companies have to file LMO applications to hire employees under Canada's Temporary Foreign Worker Program. HD Mining had the documents but the December court order was directed to the minister.

Some of those documents have been provided but HD Mining has refused to turn over other material, including resumes of Canadians who applied for jobs at the project, maintaining the minister had no legal basis to ask for them.

That sent the parties back to court to argue over whether and how the minister has the power to compel documents to be produced.

In his decision, Judge Manson said the minister had "exercised her discretion to exercise control" by making three requests to HD Mining "without further demands or stipulating consequences for [HD Mining's] failure to comply".

Judge Manson dismissed the government's motion to vary the order and gave the minister until Jan. 21 to consider further demands.

The unions that brought the case – the International Union of Operating Engineers and the Construction and Specialized Workers Unions – called the order a victory and said an earlier application to find the minister in contempt of court was on hold.

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