Appoint the Auditor General to review Ottawa sale and leaseback plan

    OTTAWA, June 28 /CNW Telbec/ - The Public Service Alliance of Canada has
called on the Prime Minister to mandate the Auditor General of Canada to
review the federal government's plan to sell nine office buildings and lease
them back from the new owners. The text of the PSAC's letter to the Prime
Minister follows:

    June 27, 2007

    The Right Honourable Stephen Harper
    Prime Minister of Canada
    House of Commons
    Ottawa, Ontario
    K1A 0A6

    Dear Prime Minister:

    The sale of nine office buildings owned by Canadians will lead to one of
the largest sales of public assets ever, assuming the government endorses
Minister Fortier's view that the federal government should not be in the
business of owning real estate assets.
    This transaction is taking place behind such a heavy veil of secrecy it
may well do harm to your call for greater transparency and openness in
government. To date, Minister Fortier has refused to release any details
related to any aspect of the transaction.
    The Public Service Alliance of Canada has deep concerns about the merits
of the sale and lease back plan and serious questions about its costs and
benefits. We believe that taxpayers will pay $2 in leasing costs for every $1
gained in proceeds from the sale of the buildings.
    Only with the public release of key documents related to the sale will
Canadians be able to judge the merits of this approach, which brings me to a
specific recommendation we wish to make concerning the independent third party
review process Minister Fortier has established as a means of ensuring the
bidding process is "fair".
    We are concerned that the Minister has or will appoint a private company
to play this role, that the review will be conducted in secret and that the
results of the review will be withheld from the public.
    In the interests of transparency and given the scope of this transaction,
we urge you to appoint the Auditor General of Canada to conduct this third
party review and to expand the mandate to examine the costs and benefits of
the sale and leaseback plan and to report the findings publicly so that all
will know if this arrangement is fair to taxpayers.

    I hope you will give our recommendation urgent consideration.

    John Gordon,
    National President,
    Public Service Alliance of Canada

For further information:

For further information: Jim Thompson, cell.: (613) 447-9592

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