Skip to main content

Laurentian asks judge to quash Queen's Park warrant for privileged documents

Sudbury -

Laurentian University is asking the Superior Court of Justice to set aside a Speaker's warrant that would force it to surrender privileged documents to Ontario's auditor general.

Earlier this month, the Ontario legislature voted to issue the warrant after the insolvent university refused to give documents covered by solicitor-client privilege to Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk.

The university argues it is not compelled to surrender such documents, while Lysyk counters she has the right to see them under provincial legislation.

The matter ended up in court before Superior Court Chief Justice Geoffrey B. Morawetz on Dec. 6. Before Morawetz could issue a decision, however, the province's Standing Committee on Public Accounts voted to have the Speaker issue a warrant demanding the documents.

That decision was approved by the Ontario legislature Dec. 9, marking the first time such a warrant was issued since 2012, when Ornge founder Chris Mazza was forced to appear in front of MPPs who were looking into financial irregularities at the air ambulance service.

In a post on its website (, the university said the warrant put it in an impossible position, since it is under court order to keep the documents private.

MPPs, who gave Laurentian until Feb. 1, 2022, to comply, rejected arguments that the warrant was interference in an ongoing case in the Superior Court of Justice.

Now, lawyers for the university are asking Morawetz to suspend the enforcement of the warrant until he makes a decision on the court case.

They argue staying warrants is allowed under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act, under which Laurentian declared insolvency Feb. 1 of this year.

LU argues the Ontario legislature doesn't have the authority to order a non-government agency to give up its "constitutionally protected right" to solicitor-client privilege.

"Parliamentary privilege of a provincial legislative assembly does not extend to compelling the production of documents and information that a federal statute, or a court order made pursuant thereto, prohibits a person or entity from disclosing," the court documents said.

"It is not necessary to its functioning for a provincial legislative assembly to have the power to compel disclosure of information in breach of federal law."

Further, it argues that the Auditor General's Act does not give Lysyk the power to demand privileged documents, and the legislature can't demand something that is not included in its own legislation.

"The legislature cannot now circumvent the limits on the Auditor General’s authority that it itself enacted by resorting to parliamentary privilege," the court documents said.

If he opts not to quash the decision, Laurentian is asking for guidance on how to comply with the warrant without violating Morawetz's previous order to keep the documents confidential. 

Read the court filings here. Top Stories

Stay Connected