The federal government has just told a Canadian democracy watchdog it must wait another 165 days for documents it asked for in November.On November 22 2023, Democracy Watch co-founder Duff Conacher asked for the records of all communications from 2023 regarding the appointment of Konrad von Finckenstein as federal interim ethics commissioner.On Thursday, Conacher released a letter he received from the Privy Council Office (PCO) that said a prompt disclosure was not forthcoming.“At the present time, meeting the original time limit of 30 days would unreasonably interfere with operations. Further, we have found it necessary to undertake a consultation process. As a result, an extension of up to 165 days beyond the 30-day statutory deadline is required to complete your request,” the letter explained.“The new legislative due date for your request is June 4 2024. Should the consultations be completed in a shorter timeframe than specified, we will endeavour to respond to your request before the due date.”Democracy Watch filed a complaint with the information commissioner about the delay and the office is investigating.Von Finckenstein’s six-month term as interim ethics commissioner will be long over by June. He was appointed on August 30th 2023 after Mario Dion retired in February due to health problems and the Trudeau Cabinet failed in its attempt to install Trudeau Cabinet Minister Dominic LeBlanc’s sister-in-law Martine Richard as the interim commissioner.Richard resigned rather than face questions about her appointment, but continues to serve as the ethics commissioner’s senior lawyer.In a press release, Democracy Watch decried what it calls “the Liberals’ undemocratic and unethical watchdog appointment process” “The Trudeau Cabinet has said nothing about its secretive search for a person to appoint to a seven-year term as the next ethics commissioner, and is playing the same game as the Cabinet did in 2016/2017 by using a Cabinet-controlled, partisan, political and secretive process for reviewing applications and hiding key information from opposition parties,” the organization said.“In 2017 the Liberals misled opposition parties by falsely claiming that no qualified candidates had applied for the ethics eommissioner and commissioner of lobbying positions.”The deadline to apply for the ethics commissioner position was May 23 2023. On September 18, von Finckenstein testified at the House of Commons Ethics Committee but only disclosed a bit of information about how he was appointed. He said an unnamed person asked him last April whether he would accept the position of interim ethics commissioner, but he was going on a 40-day cruise at that time. An unnamed person contacted him again in June, and he agreed to an interim role.Von Finckenstein said was only asked to take, and only committed to, a six-month term. He said he hadn’t thought about applying for a seven-year term and it wasn’t discussed, but he would consider it when his interim role was done.The Federal Court of Appeal ruled unanimously in 2020 that the cabinet is biased when it chooses democracy watchdogs such as the ethics commissioner. Conacher has long called for a different process.“The Trudeau Liberals are again playing secretive, dishonest games with the appointment process for the federal ethics commissioner and opposition parties need to wake up and stop the Liberals from again choosing their own lapdog,” said Conacher.“For all future appointments of watchdogs and all other federal agencies, boards, commissions and tribunals that need to be independent from Cabinet, a fully-independent appointments advisory committee whose members are approved by all parties in the House of Commons should be established to do a public, merit-based search for a short list of qualified candidates and then an all-party House Committee should make the final choice of who will be appointed.”The office had been empty for six months until von Finckenstein took the interim role. He told the House he was told the government was having difficulty finding someone to do the job.“If it was only about making rulings, I think it would be easy to find someone,” von Finckenstein said. “It could be the political nature.”No new ethics investigations could be opened before von Finckenstein’s appointment. Within his first three weeks, he already had eight active cases involving 11 people.On Wednesday, the House of Commons ethics committee voted unanimously to have von Finkcenstein talk to the committee about travel, vacations and gift rules for elected officials. The invitation was prompted by a trip by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his family to a $9,300-a-night Jamaican villa. The Prime Minister’s Office said von Finckenstein had been consulted prior to the trip.