Liberals asks Google to delete Harper-era web pages from search results

Outgoing Prime Minister Stephen Harper arrives at his Langevin office in Ottawa, Wednesday Oct. 21, 2015.
Outgoing Prime Minister Stephen Harper arrives at his Langevin office in Ottawa, Wednesday Oct. 21, 2015. FILE - THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

OTTAWA – The Liberal government has had dozens of web pages from Stephen Harper’s days as prime minister deleted from Google search results.

The Privy Council Office requests for deletion from Google began last Nov. 4, the day the Trudeau government took office and continued into January.

Documents tabled in the Commons in response to a written question from Conservative MP Candice Bergen detail the deletion requests.

The PCO says the material itself was neither deleted nor destroyed and remains available through Library and Archives Canada.

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The search result requests cover Harper’s daily posts and his 24-Seven video diary as well as news releases in both French and English.

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On Nov. 9, the PCO asked Google to clear its index for any page published on the domain before Nov. 4, but Google did not offer such a service.

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In January, requests were made for more deletions year-by-year through Harper’s tenure and the government reply says pages no longer show up search results.

In all, the PCO made asked Google 51 times to remove Harper material from its search results.

The office said, however, that Harper’s website material was saved in its entirety and can be accessed through the archives.

“This application went live in April and a link to it has been added to the PCO website,” said Raymond Rivet, director of corporate and media affairs for the PCO.

A few other agencies made a handful of requests to Google asking that documents be removed from web searches.

For example, the RCMP asked that one news release be removed because charges had been dropped and that another be deleted because a publication ban had been imposed in a case.

National Defence asked Google to remove an older version of a document from its cache because it included personal information about a member of the Forces.

The Treasury Board asked for a change after finding that Google searches tied a photo of Bill Matthews, comptroller general of Canada, to biographical information for Bill Matthews, a former MP from Newfoundland and Labrador.


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