The premier of Nova Scotia and eight members of his cabinet were issued subpoenas Monday by a legislature committee trying to get to the bottom of a failed immigration program.
The public accounts committee wants about 1,000 documents turned over to the auditor general by July 23. Committee chairwoman Maureen MacDonald said the government has been hiding behind claims of cabinet confidentiality and solicitor-client privilege.
"The net has been thrown wide on these documents and the auditor general has been denied access," said MacDonald.
"They're even refusing things pursuant to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act."
In an interim report on the program, released earlier this month, auditor general Jacques Lapointe was critical of the lack of access to relevant paperwork.
As an example, Lapointe said the program, which saw applicants pay more than $130,000 for a mentored work program, failed to properly screen employers.
MacDonald said committee members know they're being denied e-mails and information regarding government's communication strategy, dating back to when the failed program began to break into the public view.
She said her committee was trying to force the government to be transparent and accountable.
"We want to know who knew what, when. Who was making decisions or more importantly, who was asleep at the switch when some of the important decisions were being made on this file."
Having said that, MacDonald said she remained optimistic they would eventually get the documents.
"I've been around for a bit and this government generally does the right thing when they've tried everything else and have failed," she said.
"This is the right thing to do."
Wade Keller, a spokesman for the premier's office, said the subpoenas have been turned over to Justice Department lawyers.
"The folks there will review them and we'll deal with them in accordance with advice from our lawyers," he said.
He said Premier Rodney MacDonald, who was in Qatar on a business trip Monday, was aware the documents had been served.