Federal appeal court imposes new deadline on Tommy Douglas spy dossier

OTTAWA – The Federal Court of Appeal has imposed a new deadline on Library and Archives Canada in the seven-year battle to lift the shroud of secrecy over the decades-old spy dossier on socialist icon Tommy Douglas.

The court gave the institution 90 days to determine whether it has identified all relevant documents sought by Canadian Press reporter Jim Bronskill, who originally requested the Douglas files in 2005 under the Access to Information Act.

The oral ruling from the bench came unexpectedly Wednesday after a panel of three judges heard three hours of legal arguments from lawyers from the federal government and The Canadian Press.

The court granted the appeal by the government of the ruling that The Canadian Press successfully obtained last year for fuller disclosure of the file.

The Federal Court of Appeal also tweaked some of the language of the ruling of Federal Court Justice Simon Noel.

Files released so far showed the RCMP’s security branch spied on Douglas from the late 1930s to shortly before his death in 1986.

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.