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RCO





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PostPosted: Mon May 01, 2017 2:26 pm    Post subject: Alberta government interferes with freedom of info requests Reply with quote

( funny that the ndp who had claimed harper did this sort of thing , is now doing something worse . )



Alberta government interferes with freedom of information requests, email reveals

Alberta Justice asked for copies of requests submitted by journalists and opposition, CBC News learns

By Brooks DeCillia, CBC News Posted: May 01, 2017 7:00 AM MT| Last Updated: May 01, 2017 10:07 AM MT

Sean Holman, a freedom of information specialist who teaches at Mount Royal University, says surveillance of requests opens up the potential for abuse.


An Alberta Justice internal email uncovered by CBC News reveals political interference by the NDP government in a freedom of information (FOIP) request.

The email, also obtained through a freedom of information request, reveals that a senior civil servant ordered junior FOIP officers in January to provide the minister's office with a copy of all records requested by journalists and opposition politicians.

"My ADM, Gerald Lamoureux, has advised me that the ministry's office would like to receive a copy of records release packages for access to information requests made by opposition parties and the media," reads the email from Richard Marks, the director of FOIP records management.

Experts worry about political staff meddling in the processing of access to information requests by non-partisan civil servants.

In 2011, the RCMP were called to investigate meddling at the federal level. Stephen Harper's Conservative government came under fire when political aides scrutinized — and even inappropriately censored — documents requested under the Access to Information Act by The Canadian Press.


"Surveillance opens up the potential for abuse. If government knows who is filing the request… it opens up the door to treating those requests differently than they would any other request," warns Sean Holman, a freedom of information expert at Mount Royal University.

"It's only necessary if government is worried about the public finding out its secrets and it's only necessary if the government is worried about preserving that secrecy."

'Lack of respect'

CBC News's freedom of information request to Alberta Justice did not identify the applicant as a journalist.

Politicians, the news media, advocacy groups and individual citizens frequently use Alberta's Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act as a tool to expose wrongdoing and hold governments to account.

"Democracy," stresses Holman, "is based on the idea that you have informed citizens.

"Our marketplace is based on the idea that you have informed consumers and when you see any institution frustrating those information rights, it is deeply troubling."

Alberta's independent information and privacy commissioner, Jill Clayton, blasted Alberta's Rachel Notley government for a "lack of respect" for freedom of information in February, and last year's annual report by the commissioner warned that Alberta's access to information system is approaching a "crisis situation."

Chronic staff shortages, delays in handling requests and accusations of political interference have plagued the system aimed at providing Albertans access to records held by public bodies.

Wildrose critique

At the beginning of April, the Wildrose Party called on the government to fix the province's "broken FOIP system."

The opposition party also accused the NDP of interfering politically in access requests. It recommended eliminating the involvement of the province's Public Affairs Bureau and Justice Ministry in the processing of all FOIP requests.
■Fire issues managers, free up money for processing FOIP requests, Wildrose says

"The government likes to claim that they are running an open and transparent government — but nothing could be further from the truth," says Nathan Cooper, Wildrose's democracy and accountability critic.

Nathan Cooper
Wildrose MLA Nathan Cooper accuses the NDP government of being secretive. (CBC)

Earlier this month, Clayton concluded her office's investigation into possible political interference in the processing of freedom of information requests was unreliable due to obstruction by the previous long-serving PC government.
■Alberta government roadblocks blamed for delays in political interference probe

New Democrats decried the Progressive Conservatives' handing of freedom of information requests while on the opposition benches.

As a rookie opposition MLA in 2011, Notley accused the governing PCs in the legislative assembly of being "far too secretive" and "shredding holes in access to information."

'We should not be surprised'

The Wildrose Party says the NDP is no better than the PCs.

"This government is very secretive. They are interfering politically at every opportunity," says Cooper.

Holman said a reversal in attitudes is normal.

"We should not be surprised," he says.

The MRU professor says opposition parties often posture about freedom of information.

"But when they do actually get into power, we find very quickly that they behave in exactly the same way because secrecy is addictive," he says.

Holman and the Wildrose Party both want the NDP to stop singling out requests made by the news media and opposition politicians.

"All requests for information should be treated equally. There's no reason why a request from the opposition or the media should be handled differently because it might have a negative political impact on the government," the MLA for Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills told CBC News.

NDP rejects interference allegation

The NDP government, for its part, calls it standard practice to send copies of finalized access requests to the minister's office for "information purposes."

"There is no place for edits or other changes to be made by a minister's office," a justice spokesperson told CBC News in an email statement.

"The process of informing ministers' offices of information being released is a responsibility of government departments," it adds.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/.....-1.4080620
Toronto Centre





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PostPosted: Mon May 01, 2017 2:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

And now we know more about why Canada has fallen on the freedom of the press ranking.

Its started to really drop under Harper, then made worse due to the Quebec police hassle last year and now this.
RCO





Joined: 02 Mar 2009
Posts: 6300
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votes: 3
Location: Ontario

PostPosted: Tue May 02, 2017 7:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

May 02, 2017

NDP’s ‘Orwellian’ threat to Freedom of Information

Sheila Gunn Reid
Rebel Commentator


The NDP are meddling in the Freedom of Information process in Alberta by having all the freedom of information requests filed by opposition parties and journalists monitored and examined by Alberta Justice.



This was all revealed in an internal Alberta Justice email that CBC received in a Freedom of Information document.

The email reads "My ADM Gerald Lamoureux, has advised me that the ministry's office would like to receive a copy of records release packages for access to information requests made by opposition parties and the media.”

In response, the Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley, said her ministry only monitors these requests for “informational purposes”.

What a bunch of Orwellian baloney. Questions from political enemies are being surveilled by allegedly non partisan government bureaucrats at the behest of the Minister of Justice. Where are we? Venezuela?

The best response from an opposition party about the vetting of these freedom of information requests was from an opposition member. This person said he has sent a letter to Privacy commissioner Jill Clayton asking she conduct a broader review to ensure the independence of the FOIP process has not been compromised. He said, "We want to make sure that documents aren't disappearing and they're not changing the story (as a result of the FOIP request),. This person also said the government abandoned construction of a secret taxpayer-funded penthouse suite for Redford on top of a government building after a FOIP request was filed.

The person who said that was the NDP leader at the time and current transportation minister, Brian Mason, back in 2014 when the PCs were also vetting and examining Freedom of Information requests so they too could pre-craft responses.

It took the PCs 44 years to turn into the corrupt secretive PCs of old. It took the NDP 40 minutes.

https://www.therebel.media/ndp_s_orwellian_threat_to_freedom_of_information
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