May 7, 2010
Ignatieff named to Privy Council
By CHRISTINA SPENCER, Parliamentary Bureau
OTTAWA — Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff was sworn in as a member of the Privy Council Friday, a move both the prime minister and Ignatieff’s office said had nothing to do with negotiations over the release of sensitive documents on Afghan detainees.
But one political analyst said Ignatieff’s admission to the elite club of Canadians who may view top-secret information is likely precisely because of the Afghan crisis.
“It’s a prelude, really, to what has to happen if there’s going to be a resolution in this big fight between the executive and Parliament” over the documents, said Michael Behiels, professor of history at the University of Ottawa.
Ignatieff should have been sworn in soon after he become leader of the official opposition, Behiels said, adding the fact it has not happened until now was an “oversight.” Privy councillors may be allowed to see secret government information in times of crisis, or be called on for their advice.
Currently, the government and opposition parties are haggling over the release of potentially sensitive documents pertaining to the treatment of Afghan detainees. Some members of the Liberal caucus could be asked to view them because as past cabinet members, they are already privy councillors. But until now, Ignatieff was not.
The swearing-in was delayed until this week because of scheduling issues, Ignatieff spokesman Michael O’Shaughnessy said. It was presided over by the governor general.
NDP Leader Jack Layton is already a privy councillor.
But both the PMO and Ignatieff’s office insisted conferring of the honour this week had nothing to do with the negotiation over who could see the Afghan documents.