Ot­tawa, VW, want doc­u­ments sealed

The Daily Courier - - CANADA -

OT­TAWA (CP) — The fed­eral gov­ern­ment has re­fused to pro­vide records show­ing the scope of its in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the Volk­swa­gen emis­sions-dup­ing scan­dal in Canada and the Ger­many au­tomaker is now seek­ing a le­gal or­der to keep those records con­fi­den­tial.

In Septem­ber 2015, Volk­swa­gen ad­mit­ted it had in­stalled soft­ware on 11 mil­lion diesel-en­gine ve­hi­cles de­signed to dupe emis­sions test­ing equip­ment into think­ing the cars were emit­ting less green­house gases than they ac­tu­ally were. About 105,000 of those cars were sold in Canada and En­vi­ron­ment and Cli­mate Change Canada has been in­ves­ti­gat­ing the com­pany here for more than two years now.

En­vi­ron­men­tal De­fence and Cana­dian Physi­cians for the En­vi­ron­ment are frus­trated by the slow progress of the Cana­dian probe and filed a law­suit over the sum­mer to try and force the gov­ern­ment to com­plete those in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

As part of the law­suit, the groups re­quested all ma­te­rial from the cur­rent in­ves­ti­ga­tion be handed over. The gov­ern­ment re­fused.

Last week, Volk­swa­gen filed a mo­tion re­quest­ing in­ter­vener sta­tus in the case, ask­ing the court to pro­tect its con­fi­den­tial in­for­ma­tion, and say­ing the com­pany pro­vided in­for­ma­tion to En­vi­ron­ment Canada “with an ex­pec­ta­tion of con­fi­den­tial­ity.”

The en­vi­ron­men­tal groups asked En­vi­ron­ment Canada to look into four spe­cific things: Did Volk­swa­gen im­port cars which vi­o­lated Canada’s emis­sions re­quire­ments? Did it ap­ply the na­tional emis­sions mark on cars that didn’t meet the stan­dards and then sell those cars? Did it lie about it? Did it re­sume sales ear­lier this year of mod­els that still don’t meet Cana­dian emis­sions stan­dards?

En­vi­ron­ment Canada says it was al­ready in­ves­ti­gat­ing the first three items and did agree to launch an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the fourth. An of­fi­cial from the depart­ment told The Cana­dian Press last week it is not unusual for com­plex in­ves­ti­ga­tions to take this much time.

An of­fi­cial speak­ing on back­ground last week said it will be many more months be­fore the Cana­dian probe is fin­ished. En­vi­ron­ment Canada told En­vi­ron­men­tal De­fence ear­lier this month its in­ves­ti­ga­tion of the re­sump­tion of sales of the faulty ve­hi­cles will take a year more to com­plete.

Volk­swa­gen pleaded guilty in U.S. court last March to de­fraud­ing the U.S. gov­ern­ment by sell­ing ve­hi­cles it knew didn’t meet U.S. emis­sions stan­dards for diesel-en­gines and hid­ing that fact with soft­ware that de­feated emis­sions-test­ing equip­ment to make it seem as if the ve­hi­cles were emit­ting less than they were.

The com­pany was fined more than $4.3 bil­lion U.S.

Six ex­ec­u­tives have also been crim­i­nally charged in the United States in the af­fair, one of whom pleaded guilty in Au­gust.

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