Sudbury, Ontario – Thursday December 9, 2021
Laurentian University is deeply disappointed that a motion, passed Wednesday by the Standing Committee on Public Accounts issued a Speaker’s warrant to compel production of certain documents and information today. This is a clear attempt to pre-empt and interfere with an existing court process. Further, the University is gravely concerned that compliance with a warrant would put it, and its officers, directors, and employees, in contempt of a court order.
The serious consequences of the Speaker’s warrant are laid out in a letter delivered to the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, Premier Doug Ford, opposition leaders Andrea Horwath and Steven Del Duca, and others, on Wednesday December 8th.
Motion interferes with ongoing court process, creates chaos and confusion
The Auditor General started a court application about whether she was entitled to receive privileged information. A court hearing on that issue was held on Monday, December 6. Chief Justice Morawetz heard the application and said that he would issue a decision shortly.
Laurentian University had expected that the Auditor General and Standing Committee would allow the court’s determination to be known before deciding whether to take any further steps. Instead, the Speaker’s warrant seeks to pre-empt and interfere with that pending determination. Further, it creates chaos and confusion when the University must focus on supporting its students and successfully emerging from the CCAA process.
Compliance with Speaker’s warrant would put University in contempt of court orders
Laurentian University is on a difficult and necessary journey of transformational change. As we continue the hard work of restructuring, we are working through a complex process involving many stakeholders under the direct supervision of the Court.
The Standing Committee seeks the disclosure of documents and information that the Court has ordered to remain confidential, as well as documents subject to the constitutionally-protected privilege of Laurentian University and many third parties.
As such, complying with a Speaker’s warrant would mean violating a court order.
Laurentian has cooperated with the Auditor General’s investigation and with the Standing Committee
The University has authorized and encouraged all staff to participate in interviews with the Auditor General of Ontario. We have also granted her office direct access to our entire financial database, enrollment system, as well as extensive non-privileged documentation. The provision of documents to the Auditor General is ongoing and will provide the Auditor General with the information she needs to perform her audit.
Further, the University has cooperated with the Standing Committee’s inquiry. The University has produced, and continues to produce, substantial documents and information to the Standing Committee directly.