Consider the words of Colin Gabelmann, former Attorney General of British Columbia. On June 18th, 1992, he introduced the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act for its second reading:
“As a result of the tremendous amount of input we received, I asked Professor Murray Rankin to examine all of the material and make recommendations to me as to how we could improve the legislation. Professor Rankin, as members know, is one of Canada’s leading experts on this kind of legislation and has the added advantage of being neither a politician, a bureaucrat nor part of any special interest group. Accordingly, I knew that he could assess the various proposals from an independent perspective. Yesterday I received Professor Rankin’s report, in which he took the many suggestions received and fashioned them into 50 recommended amendments to the legislation. I have accepted all of Professor Rankin’s recommendations and in committee stage will introduce the 50 proposed amendments. The amendments will not change the intent or direction of the bill, which I will speak to today. They will, I believe, clarify and thus strengthen the rights set out in the bill and will fine-tune the balance between privacy and freedom of information.”
Gabelmann added this:
“I want to say thanks to a number of people, particularly public servants in the Ministry of Government Services, who were, in effect, seconded to me to help develop this legislation. They have done outstanding work. The member for Burnaby North has identified them, and I want to add my words of thanks as well; in addition, of course, to Dr. Murray Rankin, who as always has been energetic, forceful, inspired and, in fact, brilliant. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with him in this process to date, a process which is not yet complete.”
I’ve been meaning to write about Murray Rankin for some time. He is a candidate for the NDP nomination in Victoria, along with Ben Isitt, Charlie Beresford and Elizabeth Cull. I feel tepid commenting, because I don’t live in the riding, yet I’m so impressed with his candidacy.
His work on privacy and freedom of information legislation has changed this country for the better. These topics have always been important to me. FOI is one few tools Joe and Jane Citizen can use to encourage all levels of government to become more transparent and accountable. I look around and I see so many public interest stories in the media as a result of FOI access requests.
There is not a lot of money in this kind of work so it’s clear that Murray did it for the right reasons. His heart is in the right place.
I’ve filed a “Request for Review” against Esquimalt with the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner.
This is in regard to an access request I submitted to the Township of Esquimalt on July 6th. I asked for a copy of the RCMP proposal received by Esquimalt in response to its RFP for policing services.
Esquimalt denied the request.
In a nutshell, their position is that they “cannot release the requested report in its entirety, or reasonably sever exempted information to disclose any part of it” as the proposal is exempt from disclosure under sections 12, 13, 15, 16, 17 and 21 of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
These sections of FIPPA deal with serious matters including Cabinet confidence, government relations, the investigative techniques used by law enforcement, the financial and economic interests of various public bodies, the ability of the government to manage the economy, trade secrets and other issues.
My position is that Esquimalt does not genuinely believe the proposal is exempt, nor do they believe that harm will result if the proposal becomes public. If this were the case, Esquimalt Council never would have passed an in-camera resolution asking the RCMP to release its proposal.
Another concern is that the Township has informed me that it will not release any information without an actual Order from the Commissioner. Often these “Request for Review” disputes get resolved through mediation with the OIPC. However, after a statement like that, it is difficult to believe that Esquimalt will participate in mediation in good faith.
The Township of Esquimalt is charging $200 in access fees to look at the minutes and agendas of the (now defunct) Esquimalt Police and Law Enforcement Advisory Board. I’ll post them here when I get them. In the meantime, here is the list of municipal police boards in British Columbia who post their minutes online, for free:
I received this email yesterday:
Dear Mr. Bratzer:
Your June 29, 2012 e-mail addressed to the Ministry of Justice regarding your request for copies of archived Esquimalt Police and Fire Department audits, has been forwarded to the Policing and Security Programs Branch for reply.
The audit reports you are requesting have now been archived and will require a Freedom of Information (FOI) request under the FOIPP Act. More information on how to file a FOI request can be found at: http://www.gov.bc.ca/citz/iao/foi/process/index.html. For more information the FOI office can be contacted at FOI.Requests@gov.bc.ca or 250 387-1321.
We hope this information will be of assistance to you. Thank you for writing.
Policing and Security Programs Branch
Ministry of Justice
PO Box 9285, Stn Prov Govt
Victoria BC V8W 9J7
Years ago, these audits were public documents and they were available to everyone. Now a Freedom of Information request is needed?