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Judge to decide whether to hear case calling for G8 report release

A Federal Court judge will rule Thursday on whether to hear a case that calls for the auditor general to release her report on G8 spending before next week's election.

A hearing was held Wednesday asking the court to expedite the case and Justice Simon Noel reserved his decision.

Toronto's Kathleen Trotter, a 27-year-old personal trainer who is backed by the global online activist group Avaaz, filed the lawsuit in Federal Court this week.

She says Sheila Fraser's refusal to release the report on the G8 legacy infrastructure fund is preventing her from making an informed choice in Monday's federal election. She claims her Charter rights are being violated.

Earlier this month, a leaked draft copy of Fraser's report said the government had "misinformed'' Parliament to get approval for some G8 spending.

Trotter wasn't in court Wednesday but her lawyer Frank Addario urged the judge to hear the case this week.

"Plainly, this is urgent," he told the court. "The election is only days away."

The public has the right to be informed about the government's behaviour and no time is more meaningful than on the eve of an election, said Addario.

Todd Burke, lawyer for the auditor general, said there isn't enough time to prepare a complex constitutional argument.

"A hurry-up offence will lead to nothing but a bad outcome," said Burke.

Fraser's office has said the report can't be released because Parliament isn't sitting.

The findings on the G8 infrastructure spending are contained in the draft of a confidential report Fraser was to have tabled in Parliament on April 5. The report analyzed the $1-billion cost of staging last June's G8 summit in Ontario cottage country and a subsequent gathering of G20 leaders in downtown Toronto.

The report was put on ice when Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government was defeated.

In the notice of the application filed with the court, Trotter references an April 11 Canadian Press story that cites a leaked Jan. 13 draft copy of Fraser's report.

The draft of the chapter on the G8 legacy infrastructure fund shown to The Canadian Press said the government misinformed Parliament to win approval for a $50-million G8 fund that dished out money on questionable projects in Industry Minister Tony Clement's riding.

The confidential draft also suggested the process for approving the funding may have been illegal.

A second draft that was subsequently leaked by the Conservatives was similar in substance although less incendiary in tone.

Conservative cabinet minister John Baird has said Fraser's final report differs from the draft and does not say the government misinformed Parliament.

For more from the Canadian Press scroll down the Tyee's main page or click here.

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