Opposition MPs want to view the redacted parts of emails concerning a sole-sourced contract the government awarded to Kyle Kemper, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s half-brother, for speaking at a blockchain conference in Switzerland.
Conservative MPs on the House of Commons committee on Government Operations and Estimates (OGGO) introduced a motion to that effect on Wednesday, after documents from Global Affairs Canada released under the Access to Information Act contained questionable redactions.
The government is redacting information for no reason, said Tory MP Kelly McCauley, saying there’s no way the information has been blacked out for the usual reasons of national security or consumer confidence.
“The government should not be arbitrarily redacting information,” McCauley told iPolitics on Thursday. “And they should not be blocking parliamentarians from viewing sole-sourced contract information.”
Kemper is Justin Trudeau’s half-brother, born in 1984 to Margaret Trudeau and her second husband, Fried Kemper, when the prime minister was 12.
Kemper wrote The Unified Wallet, and founded the company Swiss Key, which is in the business of making cryptocurrency accessible.
The documents in question are emails between government officials discussing Kemper’s participation in a Crypto Valley Blockchain Conference in Zug, Switzerland, from June 24 to 26, 2019.
A member of the government’s trade-commissioner team in Switzerland was responding to an email from a Global Affairs official who wanted to ensure that Kemper had met the obligations of his contract, and that there were no problems before making final payments.
The email from the Global Affairs official was sent on June 27, 2019, and the response was emailed on July 2, 2019.
According to the emails, Kemper was the Canadian speaker at the conference, and officials were pleased with the service he provided by sharing his expertise in Canada’s growing blockchain system.
The response contained a handful of redactions, including blacked-out words that appeared to describe Kemper’s public speaking.
“Mr Kemper is a (redacted) speaker with a good knowledge of the Canadian and global blockchain, crypto ecosystem and (redacted),” the email reads.
McCauley said there’s no reason for the government to redact a description of Kemper’s speech.
“And if they block minor stuff like that, you have to wonder what they’re redacting (that’s) more important to the interest of taxpayers,” he said.
Kemper was asked to speak at the conference because of his knowledge of blockchain, and because he was once the executive director of the Blockchain Association, said Youmy Han, International Trade Minister Mary Ng’s press secretary.
“This decision was entirely taken by the non-partisan public service, and the contract was proactively disclosed here,” she told iPolitics in an email.
McCauley said he doesn’t know if the redacted parts of the email will contain anything of concern, but the government shouldn’t be redacting content arbitrarily.
“From my point of view, it’s more about the transparency,” he said.